Weekend Round Up

By Naomi Berwin

Posted on July 22, 2013 in Fun Stuff with tags Weekend Roundup

I’m writing this on the train on the way back from Harrogate, where I have spent the weekend at the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Festival. I promised the Hodderscape team a weekend round-up ‘about Harrogate with an SFF slant’, but at 19.37 on a Sunday night and with the number of great events I attended over the last couple of days, that feels like a pretty tough task! So instead I’m going to cheat a little bit and focus on one event (the last one of the weekend, in fact), Charlaine Harris in conversation with journalist Paul Blezard.

At 11.30am on the final day of the festival – and with a fair few glasses of white wine having been consumed the night before – I must admit I was feeling a like a nap wouldn’t go amiss, but as a fan of both the Sookie Stackhouse novels and their TV incarnation True Blood, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hear Charlaine talk. After a whistle-stop tour through her early career (‘moderately successful’), influential authors (Elizabeth Peters and Anne Rice), and the development of True Blood (‘a crazy, amazing show’), the conversation reached the pressing issue of the moment: the controversial ending to the Sookie Stackhouse series and the extreme reactions of some of the fans.

Without giving any spoilers, let’s just say that the ending of the final book in the series, Dead Ever After, led to Charlaine receiving death threats – something that she, unsurprisingly, found both scary and saddening. This kind of reaction seems bizarre to me; whilst it’s a testament to the strength of Charlaine’s storytelling that readers care so deeply about her characters’ fate, I find it astonishing that anyone would feel inclined – and justified – to respond with threatening messages personally attacking the author and her family.

Paul asked Charlaine whether she felt that she had a responsibility to give the readers what they wanted, whether after all these years she owed them the ending they desired. Charlaine replied: ‘The series ended exactly as I’d always planned. My only responsibility to readers is to provide the best story possible, told as well as I can.’

I’m inclined to agree with her. But what do you think? Obviously the fans in this instance took things too far, but do authors have a responsibility to their readers? Does a story belong purely to its creator, or at some point does it begin to belong to its consumers too? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

PS. Now I’m going to have that nap I’ve been dying for all day. Fingers crossed someone will wake me up when we get to King’s Cross…

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