When Charlaine Harris discusses racial integration in our nation’s public-school system, she knows whence she speaks.
Because during the late ‘60s, at the height of that social experiment, the gothic scribe was a high school student in the tiny town of Tunica, Miss.
“It was a very turbulent and unpleasant time,” Charlaine (above) tells us of her bussed-in classmate days.
Now she reveals on Dr. Blogstein’s Radio Happy Hour that the integration she witnessed serves as a meta- phor for the vampires in her bestselling Southern Vampire Mystery series, which is the basis for the hit HBO series True Blood.
“The scenario of the vampire trying to assimilate into the community – you’ve said in other interviews that, in writing it, you thought of gays and the struggle that they’re going through,” inquires host Dr. Blogstein during the 25- minute interview.
“But, growing up in the South, how much did the Civil Rights movement and the way blacks are treated work its way into the scenario?” he continues.
“To an incredible extent. Because my high school class was the first integrated class in history, in my county,” Charlaine responds.
“It was a very difficult, scary time. I grew up in Mississippi and it was full of change and full of uncertainty. And yet, long overdue.
“We weren’t sure if there would be violence. We weren’t sure that everything would go peacefully,” continues Charlaine, before telling listeners that she was a senior when the integration got under way.
“They allowed two black kids to – it must’ve been horrible for them – come over and attended school their senior year at our school,” adds Charlaine, whose latest Southern Vampire novel (featuring, as always, heroine Sookie Stackhouse) is titled Dead and Gone.
“And, honestly, I don’t know how they lived through it. Not that any- body threatened them – that I knew of – but it must’ve been so incredibly tense.”
The 57-year-old mom also discusses how she came to master erotic mom- ents in her work.
“The first time I tried it – a full sex scene – was in the first Sookie book, about nine years ago. And I rewrote it several times because I want- ed to catch her awkwardness. This was her first sexual experience and yet I wanted it to be the complete sexual experience,” Charlaine explains.
“I didn’t want to resort to the stereotypical romance novel euphem- isms, like ‘pulsating rod’ and stuff like that. And yet I didn’t want to be crude. So it took a lot of thought and it took me a long time.”
To hear Charlaine’s full interview, click here.