Wait! I’m not ready to Break-Up (aka saying goodbye to your beloved book series) Jessie Smith

To my friends, family and people who have no idea how they ended up on this blog. With much sadness, I have just learned that after 13 wonderful novels, Charlaine Harris has decided to end her Sookie Stackhouse series.  This sucks and that is not just a pun about vampires.

Today’s blog is the first of a two-part series on the subject to act as group therapy sessions. Why two parts? Because I’m going to linger and refuse to move on, like an bitter ex who moves from the bedroom to the couch instead of moving out of the house and moving on with their lives.

Where to begin? Well, in 2008, HBO turned Charlaine’s book series into a wildly popular show called True Blood. When anything becomes popular, people get all territorial and want the bragging rights of saying that they were a fan long before someone else. You know those people. Well, I am one of them. I pitched a tent in the book series fan camp as I was a fan of books long before HBO discovered Sookie (yeah, I hear it, let’s keep going). I can still remember the day when I read her first book, Dead Until Dark. The second line hooked me. “Ever since vampires came out of the coffin (as they laughingly put it)…” Some lines are legendary to readers. This was one of mine.

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2011 San Diego Comic Con: True Blood Panel
Rutina Wesley, Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin

During a free HBO weekend, I tuned halfway into a Season two episode and saw Tara worshiping a large glowing egg and chanting with possessed eyes. As a fan of the books, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking, where the hell did this freaking egg come from? I was waiting for the Easter Bunny to show up and pellet the vampires with holy water doused Cadbury eggs. I haven’t been able to watch another episode. At this point, I expect comments from people in the TV show camp but let me just say that the reason why I love the books is because they focus on Sookie and all her relationships while the television series seemed to be the Sookie and Bill show (or Eric if you are Team Eric) when I was still waiting around for Quinn to show up.

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2011 San Diego Comic Con: True Blood Panel
Kristin Bauer van Straten, Alexander Skarsgård and Kevin Alejandro

In 2011, I did attend a True Blood Peace Treaty, under the protection of a mermaid at a local, agreed upon Starbucks. For years, I tried to get my friend to read the series but she always acted like the books were too heavy for her dainty arms to lift. What changed? She said, “I watch for Lafayette, Mother F*cker”. She quickly explained that was his catchphrase with her bad southern accent, not a declaration of war. Because she knows me, she threw down the Daryl trump card. You see, I love the show the Walking Dead. I like the graphic novels too but I heart Daryl Dixon and it’s not my fault he wasn’t a character in the graphic novels. Lafayette and Daryl represent add-ons to shows, whose roles help translate and enhance the visual storytelling but they also can prevent fans from crossing over to the original content because their favorite characters aren’t there. Since Lafayette doesn’t exist in the book series, the books don’t exist to her.  Since I was frustrated with my latest issue of the Walking Dead because I was waiting for Daryl to show up with his crossbow and save the day, I had to begrudgingly concede that she could have a point, maybe.

Now by all accounts Charlaine has fully supported the show. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s obvious that this decision has been financial rewarding and allowed her to reach a new audience. But not every adaptation turns out so well. A writer once said that watching his books turned into a series was like having money stuffed into your pockets as a dentist pulls out  all your teeth out without novocaine.

We know good and bad adaptations. The word PRECIOUS connects my opinion of the best and worst book-to-film adaptation. The Lord of the Rings is my favorite book and I own all the movies. I have so much faith in Peter Jackson’s visual storytelling capabilities that even though I have read the Hobbit and know it could have been easily made into one movie, I’m willing to let him string me along with two movies, separated by an entire year of not-so-patiently waiting. On the flipside, when I heard that Showtime was turning Alexander McCall Smith’s #1 Ladies Detective Agency into a series, I did the happy dance. Precious Ramotswe is my absolute favorite literary character. I want to be her best friend but I would settle for being in her circle of friends or just let me make her tea in the mornings. I kept dancing when I heard Jill Scott was hired as the lead role and Anthony Minghella was brought on as the Executive Director. This was a dream team so why did the show only last a season? Of course I have an opinion. Mr. Smith’s literary voice wasn’t translated into the TV show. Readers felt great about mankind when they finished one of his novels. However, the show focused on creating conflict. In the books, we rooted for Precious to keep her faith about humanity because we knew that she had an abusive ex-husband so she could have decided to be jaded about life.  This was her backstory revealed in the first book of the series. However, the show brought her history, in the form of her ex-husband, into her present by turning him into a major character, instead of just a side “Note” (a little pun for fans of the series). This changed the entire fabric of the series and fans turned off the show.

Charlaine Harris’ literary voice is just as unique as Alexander McCall Smith so there is always a gamble and mystery to why some adaptations work and some fail miserably. I can’t be the only one with strong opinions on the matter. Please share your thoughts about the pros and cons of seeing a book series turned into a TV show or major motion picture. And next month, in the second part of this blog topic, we will discuss fan reactions to the endings of other popular book series and whether or not authors should create a book series or stand alone books.

In the meantime, some people debate that if a tree falls in a forest and there is no one around, does it make a sound? I will internally debate if a reader refuses to read the final book in a series, does the series truly end?

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About Jessie Smith

Health Care Worker by Day, Aspiring Author by Night and 24/7 Staff for Riley (Corgie/Tibetan Spaniel Mix)

Posted on May 30, 2013, in Auth: Jessie Smith and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Thank you Darla. I love Harry Dresden and I was thrilled when Paul Blackthorne was hired to play Harry but it feel flat.

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  2. Jessie- you bring up a good point! I read the first few books of the Dresden Files (books by Jim Butcher), and loved the snarky voice of Harry Dresden. But the series was flat and short lived (I rented it and watched it over one weekend). I think part of what makes a TV series transition from books to television is if the writing and/or acting can somehow portray the internal monolog.

    Sorry to hear the Charlaine Harris is ending her series, but hopefully she can give you some closure with the final book.

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