The OF Blog: Interview with Laurell K. Hamilton

Friday, July 07, 2006

Interview with Laurell K. Hamilton

Dear Laurell K. Hamilton,

Thank you for accepting to do this interview for - other fantasy section, and being so kind to answer these questions for us.

How did you come to the idea to write books about vampires? Why vampires?

I've loved vampires since I was a little girl. Why vampires and not some other monster? Not sure but my two favorites have always been vampires and werewolves. I guess I prefer monster that can eat you, or at least drink you. One of my earliest completed stories, at fifteen, had vampires in it.

What do you like the most about your books?

That 15 books into the Anita series and I'm still learning new things about my characters and my world.

Are any of your characters' personalities taken from people you know?

Not really. Sometimes a gesture, or some small thing will get incorporated, but I; I’ve never based anyone’s personality on people I know.
Anita, being my fist attempt at first person narration was close to my own personality in some ways. Part of that was accidental and part was to make the writing easier. Our personalities have diverged as our life experience has diverged over the years.

What part do you have in the Dabel's Adaptations of the Anita Blake book? How much of the sexuality will make it into the comics?

We see everything, from concept, script, sketches, etc. If something doesn't work we send it back and they try to get it closer. They've been wonderful.
What most people tend to forget is that there is no actual sex until book five. So it's not really a hard issue right now.

You are one of the few writes that write sex so vividly, yet still make it part and parcel of the plot/storyline - not just titillation. Will you continue to push the boundaries of sexual explicitness in your books?

If the plot or characters demand it, yes.

I see some similarities between Anita and Merry. Like both being not so tall, both being tough girls, both being (some sort) of detectives. Was that intended or just coincidence?

Well, I've never been tall and when you choreograph fight scenes or sex scenes, it's just easier if you have about the same size as the character you’re writing about. Why is it so strange that my female characters are tough? I had no idea there was an alternative to it. Frankly, I worked very hard that Merry isn't a clone of Anita, but for the short and strong personality.

How much research do you put into each novel? Which book took the most research?

For factual things, I like three different sources. So a good bibliography in a book is a must on a research book. I will often look for those books they list. It is easier to get someone to believe in the fantastical elements if you have your factual elements correct.
I have been told by people in New York that I do more research for my fiction than most people do for their nonfiction. So, though I don't write hard science, I do a lot of research. I have a degree in biology, which probably influences the amount of detail I want. For instance, in Caress Of Twilight I needed to give one of my minor-major characters moth wings. I researched for a week for Eurpeon silk moths. There aren't many of them. There are even fewer that have ever flown over Britain. The only one I could find at present day just wasn't quite spectacular enough for me.
Here is one of Hamilton's rules of writing. You can fudge the facts, if you know the facts first. So I ended up combining about four different moths; one for the shape of the hind wing, another for the eyespots, a third for the outer wing coloring, and a fourth for some added color. Here's a little known fact. Due to one moth in Europe, they now theorize that moths and butterflies may have been brighter colored before the industrial revolution. As the pollution darkened buildings and the surrounding trees, the brighter colored insects were eaten faster, and didn't get to breed as much, survival of the fittest at work. So, my brighter moth wings may be more accurate than we'll ever know. I know these wings are not on a present day living moth, so I can combine living moths to make my own design. I did the research, covered my desk with pictures of the different moths and created, like Dr. Frankenstein, the moth of my dreams that better matched what I needed.

I know, I know my zombies are not right. I do know that zombies are not shambling, rotting corpses as portrayed in the Anita books. That is a Hollywood invention, but it was just too fun not to use. Again, I did my research and then broke the rules.

When you started writing Anita Blake books did you have some sort of ending in mind? How much of the story line did you know?

I started with about 15 plots sketched out, but other books have spawned new ideas, so at book fifteen, I’m not even half way through those first plot ideas. Some of the original ideas are actually abandoned because Anita and her world have changed since the original notes.

Do Merry and Anita live in the same world? If they do, is it possible for them to meet?

No, they are separate worlds. Besides, both are first person narrative. So it would be impossible to write.

And the last question in this interview is the traditional questions of the OF: If you were to own several monkeys and/or midgets, how many would you own, and what would you name them?

It is illegal to own other human beings. So midgets are out. And they prefer to be called little people.
Monkeys are incredibly time consuming as pets and are often uncontrollable once they reach sexual maturity. Many of them end up at zoos, or rescues or even destroyed. Many zoos will not take ex-pets because of their lack of normal monkey socialization. Not to mention health and behavioral problems.
If you wanted a light hearted answer you're talking to the wrong girl. I have a degree in biology and support several rescue groups and contribute to the St Louis Zoo. I don't actually contribute to any rescue groups that specialize in monkeys, but maybe I should look in to it.

Thank you for your time, and patience, Laurell. I wish you the best of luck with your work.

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