In 2008, I met Charlaine Harris at a book signing. She was charming, witty and one of the nicest people I've ever met in my life. A few months later, I wrote a letter (not an email, twitter or Facebook post, an honest to God, stamp-requiring letter) to her, through her publisher. It took a while to filter through them and reach her, but I got a letter back (also requiring a stamp), in which she apologized to me for taking so long to reply. I was both shocked and pleased that a best-selling author would even take the time to write back, let alone apologize for the delay.
But that's not the subject of this blog post. I'm writing about True Blood, I remind myself somewhat sternly. Okay, it's early and I haven't had coffee (or green tea) yet, so bear with me. This blog is actually about ownership. Of your ideas, thoughts and yes--books. I have faithfully read every single one of Ms. Harris' Southern Vampire Mysteries series and enjoyed all of them immensely. Nowadays, I download most of my reading material as e-books, but Ms. Harris' books are proudly displayed on my bookshelves in hard copy.
And that brings me to True Blood, the cable television series, based on the Southern Vampire Mysteries. Yes, I have watched every episode and yes, I was caught like a deer in the headlights when the first episode aired. True Blood isn't much like the books at all, but if you've read and watched both series, you already know that. Was I upset that True Blood veered away from the books? A little at first. But then I sat down and had a talk with myself. This happens all the time. You read a book and then see a movie based on the book, discovering quickly that they often have little in common. Two different formats, two different takes. Honestly, even though True Blood bears little resemblance to the books, I don't blame Ms. Harris one bit for that. After all, I used to work in a bookstore and love the printed word. True Blood has likely garnered an entirely new readership for the Southern Vampire Mysteries series, and I have always held the belief that the more we read, no matter what it is, the richer we are. Ms. Harris did the right thing, I think.
And so we come to ownership. All readers have their favorite books. The characters that populate those books feed our dreams and fantasies. That's why we read them, isn't it? So we can walk away from our own lives and live somewhere else for a while? A place ultimately more interesting and exciting than our own routine existence? Does that mean we own the characters and events in those books, or do we only borrow them for a while? Should we be allowed to dictate the actions of our favorite fictional characters? In our imagination, we can.
We owe the authors for giving us those books and characters to begin with. Therefore, we have to allow the authors to take us where they will in the writing (and selling) of those books. I also believe we have to take a deep breath, step back and refrain from judgment when an author's characters transform during their leap from page to screen. Someone else has imagined different lives and events for those characters (just as some of the rest of us have) and then presented their imaginings to us on television or in a motion picture. I think of True Blood as an alternate universe and (as everyone knows) in an alternate universe, all things are possible. Will I stop watching True Blood because it doesn't follow the books? No. I've separated them, as they are two completely different things. Both are highly entertaining and worthy in their respective formats. Will I stop reading the Southern Vampire Mysteries series? Absolutely not. And I'll have a copy on my shelf of every single title.
Connie Suttle is the author of Blood Wager (Blood Destiny, book 1) available as a kindle e-book from Amazon.com. Learn more at www.subtledemon.com.