Sookie Stackhouse is coming back — in print and on TV.
Charlaine Harris — the best-selling Arkansas author who gave the world the telepathic waitress who lives in a chicken-fried world of vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, faeries and other creatures who quip as often as they kill — will be at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington on Saturday to discuss and sign Deadlocked, her newest Sookie Stackhouse mystery.
Harris said that after Deadlocked, there will be only one more book in her Southern Vampire series, which began in 2001. There's a lot of plot to wrap up there, she admits: Deadlocked is the 12th novel in the popular series set in Bon Temps, La.
Harris, 60, said she usually gets advance copies of the latest episodes of True Blood, the HBO series based on the Stackhouse novels that premiered in 2008 and returns in June. But she does not have direct input on that show.
Nonetheless, she admires it.
"I love the show uncritically," Harris said by phone. "Really, it's like watching any other television show to me because the story is very different from my own. I think it's like an extension of my work, or a slightly different view of my world."
As an author, she does not have a favorite book she has written, but rather favorite sections of books, "parts of maybe each book that I feel that I achieved what I set out to do," she said. She likes the section where the 2,000-year-old penitent vampire Godric died in the series' second novel, Living Dead in Dallas. She said it "worked out really, really well."
In that book, as Godric prepares to die by stepping into the sunlight, a no-no for vampires, Sookie begins to cry. Godric said: "That's nice. Someone to cry for me at the end. I had hardly expected that."
Harris is no stranger to Kentucky: The mother of three grown children has appeared at Joseph-Beth before, and her husband has family in Louisville, she said.
After appearing at fan events all over the world, does any question ever catch her off guard?
"There's aren't too many that can catch me off guard any more, and that is a fact," Harris said.
She said that sometimes she is surprised to find that someone has developed an extreme involvement with a character and with the book series. (The Southern Vampire Series has 3,453 entries at Fanfiction.net, the Internet warehouse for the unpublished imaginings of those who have developed intimate relationships with everything from anime to movies to Charles Dickens.)
"People read the books several times, and they tend to see big subplots that weren't there, or at least I didn't think so," Harris said.
After writing mysteries for more than 20 years, Harris has developed an eye for what bonds writer to reader.
"There's always a happy moment when it works," she said, "when everything came together and you feel like you did everything you set out to do."