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We have a winner and also a new giveaway!  Ossiander has won a copy of Faith Hunter's wonderful BLOODRING.  Ossiander, please contact me at Luciennedotdiver at knightagency.net with your address.  Congratulations!!

Again today, anyone who comments will be entered into a giveaway, this time for a signed copy of THE IRON HUNT by Marjorie M. Liu.  And tune in tomorrow for another wonderful  blog from Diana Pharaoh Francis.

Today we have a great essay by fiction and non-fiction author
Susan Wright.  Her erotic fantasy duology TO SERVE AND SUBMIT and A POUND OF FLESH is already available from Roc Books.  Next year will see publication of her urban fantasy novel CONFESSIONS OF A DEMON.  Susan is also the spokesperson for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, and so well-equipped to write about:

"Sex and Sookie Stackhouse" by Susan Wright

Who would think the South is so steamy when it comes to vampire sex? From the opening credits of writhing religious ecstatics and young women dirty dancing with older rednecks, to the speedy decomposition of a dead fox, I knew that HBO's Sookie Stackhouse was going to notch up the intensity.


I think Charlaine Harris's urban fantasy, Dead Until Dark, has been followed more or less faithfully in HBO's True Blood. But aside from the explicit sexual scenes, the subtext of vampires as minorities, in particular a sexual minority, has been brought out much stronger in the HBO television series. On the latest show, Sookie is vilified as the vampire's girlfriend when the bite marks are seen on her neck, a theme that also reflects the old South taboo against interracial couples, just as the vampires themselves are blamed for the killings of young women who like to have sex with them.  



I've been fascinated by the reactions of Sookie Stackhouse readers to the HBO series in a number of Internet readers' groups. At first some people really objected to the addition of the "unnecessary" sex scenes, especially those involving Sookie's brother Jason, who is accused of killing the young women and his own grandmother. In the very first episode, we get to see vampire sex in all its rapid-fire glory, with a demon speed-pumping a willing, tied-up woman. That scene was apparently so much fun for the producers that they showed it again in the home-movie version.


It made one reader remark that she started cringing when she thought of all the people she had told to watch True Blood, since it was "more about sex than vampires." Another rolled her eyes when her husband said, "Now I see why you read those books." One reader estimated that the books have 1/10th the sex in them than the HBO series, much to some prospective readers' disappointment. But everyone seemed to quickly accept that this is HBO, after all, notorious for open and frank representations of sexuality.


HBO also ramped up the sexual themes by capitalizing on Harris's mention that vampire blood has been the "drug of choice" for the past couple of years. She compared it to "prednisone and Viagra" while in True Blood, it's called "V" and acts much more like ecstasy (with dire and graphic consequences if too much is consumed). The emphasis on the drug really heightens the push-and-pull fascination that the vampires have for the people in town. Vampires offer the ultimate in pleasure, but they also promise death if you get too close to them.


That isn't to say that I think Charlaine Harris is a shrinking violet when it comes to sex. She even said in the pre-series show, "The most pleasurable way to take blood is through sex." Though Sookie is a virgin in the beginning of Dead Until Dark, by midway through, she's having sex with Bill the vampire for the first time in her dead grandmother's bed. There's also a vampire bar where everyone dresses Goth while some people crawl on the floor in obvious imitation of BDSM scenes.


One advantage TrueBlood has over the books is the fact that Harris tells Sookie's story from the first-person perspective, which means we only hear second-hand speculation about other characters' lives. I love first-person narrative, but by breaking away from that, HBO is able to show the wild and varied sex life of Jason as well as the biggest addition to the cast in the television series—the black best friend Tara. I didn't like Tara at first, taking her for a caricature, but as the series continues, I think Tara's love for Jason and lust for Sam (their boss who's in love with Sookie) have developed nicely into a complex love quadrangle.


Now when I read the books, I hear Anna Paquin's voice as Sookie. I think that's a very good sign. I look forward to seeing more of HBO's interpretation of Harris's world.

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( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 23rd, 2008 01:19 pm (UTC)
I just started watching the show and LOVE it! I'm going to have to get the books now.
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 23rd, 2008 02:43 pm (UTC)
Hee. Hee. I think of him as the Mr. Bill of little pumpkins. Nooooooooooooooo! ;)
Oct. 23rd, 2008 01:37 pm (UTC)
Reading can be a guilty pleasure at times and Charlaine Harris is right up there as one of my favorite reads.
Oct. 23rd, 2008 03:00 pm (UTC)
I love Marjorie's books! I have a couple but not this one, I NEED to have it :) Please enter me :)

Thanks! Crystal
Oct. 23rd, 2008 03:27 pm (UTC)
I suppose I only have myself to blame, since I am a fan of HBO shows ROME and DEADWOOD so I know they like teh sex, but Sookie is a book series my younger sister and I enjoy reading together and while I don't mind on paper the sex happening for her (she's 15) on TV its worse. I try to fast forward but they have this annoying habit of interlacing the sex scenes with non-sex scenes so we end up missing bits of the plot.

ah well we're enjoying it though oddly not as much as lifetime's Blood Ties series so that's all that matters in the long run.
Oct. 23rd, 2008 03:51 pm (UTC)
I've really enjoyed the show, and will be reading the books as well. I agree about Tara, at first I was eh--over the top, but now I really like her. And I'm eager to find out Sam's secrets--although growling in his sleep is a pretty strong indicator.
Oct. 23rd, 2008 04:38 pm (UTC)
I guess I'm going to have to TiVo True Blood now. I certainly enjoy the novels. *grins*
Oct. 23rd, 2008 05:24 pm (UTC)
I enjoy the chance to read about the books you highlight!
Oct. 23rd, 2008 06:34 pm (UTC)
I am a huuuuge fan of the books, I started reading them when they first came out and have signed hardcovers and everything... but I am having a really hard time getting into the series. I dislike the sex scenes, I don't understand why they changed Tara so drastically from the books, the vampires look more creepy than hot, and I think the series looses a lot of the charm of the books.

The first book is also not the best in the series, so I wish they'd speed up the plot and get to the later books, which are much better. The third one with Eric is one of my favorites.
Oct. 23rd, 2008 06:59 pm (UTC)
no HBO sigh
So, it's posts like this that make me wish we could afford the premium channels. I've been reading quite a bit about this show on Joshua Bilmes's blog as well, and it sounds terrific. I had also hoped to watch the Blood Ties series on Lifetime based on Tanya Huff's books, but missed it. I just don't watch much television. I'm usually reading or writing.

Lisa Iriarte
Oct. 23rd, 2008 10:25 pm (UTC)
I had read some of C. Harris' books, so when I saw this was going to be on, we activated HBO just to see it (helps that they were running a special of three months free if you signed up). Enjoying the series (and hope to win the book from Liu, as I haven't read that one)
Oct. 24th, 2008 01:47 am (UTC)
I'm a big fan of the Sookie books (just spent a good half-hour at Borders arranging an order for Definitely Dead) and so I was very glad to see how faithful True Blood was being. I knew it was gonna be good the moment I realised many, many of the lines were taken straight from the book.

Now I'm wanting something done for the Harper Connelly series by Harris as well - hopefully that would stay faithful too, although that series has more openness as a series with a new story (and dead body) a week.
Oct. 24th, 2008 04:11 am (UTC)
I love the show, and have read all the books, and while I like the books, I actually think the show is better in some ways.

(Love Liu's book, too, btw!)
Oct. 24th, 2008 05:49 am (UTC)
It's so cool when someone you actually know does well. I'm thrilled for Susan, and am looking forward to the new book. Yay!
Oct. 24th, 2008 04:08 pm (UTC)
My teenage daughter and her friends were huge fans of this series in book form. We, as a family, love the series. Yes, we're uncomfortable with some of the sex scenes, but she's an older teenager and will see cinema like that often as an adult. We try to focus on the story.

I've committed to reading the series now, seeing as how she already has all the books. I've done both...read the book and see the tv/movie...see the tv/movie and read the book. The first is always more fun, but I enjoy reading with a whole backdrop of info and visualization behind it, also.

My daughter was at first not thrilled with the casting for the show, but the actors have grown on her as being the characters. What a thrill it must be for Ms. Harris to see her world come to life!
Oct. 25th, 2008 06:11 am (UTC)
WELL my family is getting very tired of me, saying, thats not in the book, agh jason is NOT that much in the book, and not that many sex scenes. and to which my fella and 16 yr old, who i wasssss soooooo embarressed
that so mcu sex, while im trying to tell them my books, is not all sex
bnut i starting to lkke the series but i having to not think of the books , as to what happens
and needless to say , i usually watch it alone now, lol everyone got tired of me, and saying o that was in the book, no that wasnt in the book
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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