Image Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty ImagesCharlaine Harris has a new Sookie Stackhouse novel on the way in May (Dead Reckoning is the title; you can read the first chapter here), but fans of the author who inspired HBO’s acclaimed drama True Blood can fill the time until then with another one of her vampires — provided they have a computer. Available today: Dying for Daylight is a downloadable game for the PC produced by iPlay Entertainment starring one of Harris’ other “Sookieverse” creations, the feisty, fashion-forward vamp Dahlia, who has appeared in three short stories. (There’s a “Sookieverse” bibliography available at Harris’ website.) The hidden object light adventure game — about eight months in the making –allows you to play as Dahlia as she searches southern gothic locals like New Orleans and Memphis for a legendary potion that can allow vampires to survive in sunlight. It’s an interesting new form of expression for Harris, a self-professed luddite. “I am so far behind on technology,” says Harris, 59, who does keep a Facebook page. “I don’t even tweet. It’s just another way to use time that I should use writing. I keep thinking I need to know how to do [Twitter]! And then I realized: I already know all these different ways to communicate to fans — how about giving them a book to read!’”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why, then, were you interested in exploring the world of games?
CHARLAINE HARRIS: Well, my kids play videogames, and I grew up seeing a lot of videogames, although the few times I tried to play the, I was an abysmal failure. Then I saw some of my friends — fellow writers — venturing into videogames, and I thought: “Well, golly, nobody has ever asked me!” So I was thrilled when my agents told the people over at iPlay were interested in me.
Who were some of your writer-friends that you saw exploring the world of videogames?
Several of them have gotten offers which haven’t yet panned out. But of course I knew that James Patterson had an iPlay offer and other writers had been contacted. I thought there was a new field to conquer out there and fun to find out what the process was like.
From a storyteller’s point of view, what are some of the cool opportunities that the videogame medium gives you?
Well, I hope that people will play the games and think: “Oh the person who thought of this game must be so cool, maybe I’ll go buy the books!” And then buy the books. Maybe people who don’t really read novels a lot would become aware that there were books and short stories about the Dahlia character – who is only in short stories – and hopefully appeal to a new audience. And also I think it’s just fun to associate my name with a product that is just simply fun.
Why did you think Dahlia would work well for a videogame?
Because Dahlia is a really visual character. I only use her in short stories because she’s such a strong personality that I don’t know I can carry her through a whole novel. She’s very proud of the way she looks, she’s very proud of being a vampire, she’s totally unapologetic about killing things from time to time — including people. She just loves what she is. There’s no in angst in Dahlia. She’s all into looking good and being forceful.
Will there be a Dahlia book of stories that will be released in conjunction with the game?
Not so far, because I don’t have enough, but at least one more will be coming out this year, and I think by the end of next year I will have enough to make a book form, because there will be six or seven by the end of next year.
Would you like to do more of these games?
Oh, gosh, yes, I would love to. I think Dahlia could easily feature in three games.
Are there any other characters or series you’re thinking about bringing to videogames?
Well unfortunately for me, HBO owns the videogame rights to the Sookie Stackhouse books, which are my biggest sellers. Harper Connelly has been optioned for a series of comic books and television series. [The deal with CBS was announced last fall.]
What was your creative involvement in the making Dying For Daylight?
Well, iPlay saw the stories that had already been written, and then they reconfigured some of them and made up entirely new ones and pitched me on scenarios which they thought would lend themselves well to the character and the game. The goal in a game is very different from the goal of a short story. You have to provide puzzles along the way; you have to be able to backtrack. These are luxuries you don’t have in a short story; you have to go straight forward. The set-up is quite different. The set-up I thought was best was Dahlia’s quest for the sun potion, which actually isn’t in any of the books, but did seem to lend itself well to the medium.
The puzzle making process – was that something you sank your teeth into?
No! That’s when I stepped back and let the experts do what they do best — the same way I did when [True Blood exec producer] Alan Ball optioned the Sookie Stackhouse novels. I thought he doesn’t need me, he knows how to make a television show. I thought these people don’t need me, they know how to make games.
How difficult is the game?
I would say someone who has never played a game like me can play it, though very slowly at first, because I had no idea what I was doing. I just hit on everything within sight until I hit on something that worked. But I gradually caught up, and it’s tremendous fun. They say it will be intuitively obvious, and I was like, “Maybe not so much for me.” But after awhile, after I understood what I was doing, it was more so. My assistant has turned out to be whiz and clicked all the way through it. I was like, “I don’t even know how t get the screw out of her neck!” And she said, “Oh, Charlaine, you just go get the screwdriver!”