WHEN you think ‘female superheroine’ cinematic incarnations like Katniss Everdeen, Lisbeth Salander or Buffy pop to mind. Add to that any of the characters ever played by Kate Beckinsale and Milla Jocovich. But why does a female heroine have to be physically commanding? Why can’t we be just as empowered by a shy librarian trying to find her inner voice or a sheltered twenty-something searching for a spot of romance? Best-selling author Charlaine Harris is taking the cinematic super heroine and making her a whole lot more relatable. Known for her Southern Vampire series – adapted into TV’s True Blood – the small-town Arkansas author has given us more than just bouncy, blonde Sookie Stackhouse. In her twenty years as a professional author and through four different series she’s introduced Sookie, Lily Bard, Auora Teargarden and Harper Connelly. Two supernatural, two a la natural, Harris’ leads cover four quadrants of superwoman.
From a telepathic barmaid to a private investigator who can sense the dead, there’s something very abnormally normal about Harris’ heroines. Sure, some are humans with added extras, but they’re vulnerable just like the rest of us. For the 60-year-old author that’s the only way she knew how to come at it. “I just thought it was a realistic way to portray women,” she says. “My mother was a very strong woman and she always said ‘Women can do whatever they have to do and men aren’t necessarily like that’. “I don’t agree with that one hundred per cent, but in a lot of ways that’s very true. “I found it more appealing to write women than men because I wanted to write about what has happening in my own life. “I’m far from a superwoman – I have no extra sensory powers or supernatural abilities – but it seemed like a great way to comment on other things that I was seeing around me.”
In Australia for her first time as part of The Hub’s True Blood fan conventions, Harris says it’s fascinating to be surrounded by fans as interested in the darker side of life as she is.
“Isn’t everyone fascinated about the possibility that there’s something out there that we can’t interpret with our own senses?
“We all want to believe that there’s things we can never understand.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s out there. In writing about serial murderers and the supernatural, Harris has put herself in the path of many people who claim to be as abnormally gifted as her characters. “I haven’t met anyone yet that has convinced me,” she says. “Yet.”
“I’ve certainly met people who allege they have (special abilities).
“It’s a field cluttered with charlatans and frauds and it’s hard to separate someone who’s genuinely gifted from that. “I’m open to it.”
In the meantime, her Houdini-esque quest to discover the truly gifted among us is taking a backseat as she continues working on her several book series and seeing another one of her characters – Harper Connelly – developed for the small screen. After a failed attempt by CBS, SyFy have bought the option for the gritty Grave Sight crime series and are working on getting season one to air. Throw in a graphic novel series based on the character, True Blood comic books and a Sookie Stackhouse musical – which Harris says “would be wonderful” – and you have a lady much closer to her fictious female superheroines than she will have you believe.
Maria Lewis - follow Maria on Twitter here: @moviemazz