Charlaine Harris on "Midnight, Texas" Adaptation for Television

Charlaine Harris is best known to television viewers for True Blood, an HBO series adapted from The Southern Vampire Mysteries that she wrote. Now the public will be treated to another romantic supernatural series that she wrote, Midnight, Texas. The series was brought to SDCC 2017, which is nothing new for Harris after all the visits True Blood had during its run.

Harris enters the process of having another of her properties adapted for television with considerably more experience this time around. "True Blood wasn't a big hit right away. It had to grow by word of mouth. So I had a little while to get used to it being on everybody's lips and then of course there people who just hated it. When I sold my house in Arkansas, they had it exorcised. I'm so bad! I felt pretty badass after that. I think I learned with True Blood, I was totally new to the industry, I had never met an actor, I had never met anybody like Alan Ball. He's a unique guy, one of a kind, I just think the world of him. But I had never met anyone in the entertainment industry before so I was terrified and that doesn't help. And now I feel just very causal about meeting people who are in entertainment and not being scared really helps."

Harris isn't involved much with the details of how her books are adapted to work for television, but Harris has no issues with this. "I'm not really involved because they have to make the decision that's right for television viewing. I made all the book decisions a hundred percent so I am glad to leave the making of the television show to them. They're the experts, I'm not, and I don't want to."

Midnight, Texas being adapted for NBC means a considerably less gratuitous approach to the violent and provocative aspects of the novels compared to True Blood. "David Janollari (executive producer) was very enthusiastic about the material and so was Monica. The first prerequisite is people who really love the material. I felt confident that they would stick to the spirit of the books and they have. I think that's really all I can ask. As for being a little less graphic, I'm kind of glad about that. I'm certainly no prude but sometimes on True Blood, as lovely as those people are, really it was the graphic quality of the killing scenes that bothered me a little bit more. So I wanted to cover my eyes. For NBC, it's pretty much pushing the envelope, though. I've seen the first six episodes and I'm still happy about it!"

Harris now refrains from projecting much when waiting to see how this new adaption turns out. "I don't have expectations anymore because I'm waiting to be informed. I'm waiting to have that experience. Entertain me! Show me what you've got! And they have, I've been very pleased with it. It's a very good show."

Midnight, Texas offers a new experience for Harris as a writer in that the series mixes events from different books into the first season, as opposed to adapting the content of just one book per season. "That was really new to me. But there again I thought, well there are only three books. That's okay with me, really. It's not like they have to be sequential to make sense. They don't. So far I'm going,  'Okay, that was from book three, I think that was from book two,' but okay, it's all good."

With just three books worth of material to pull from and uncertainty about the longevity of the television series, which has only just begun airing, there is a possibility of the show-runners having to create more substantial quantities of completely new events and characters. "I don't doubt that Monica can make up enough good stuff to fill it up. I have no doubts about her creativity at all. I really hope the cast and crew, I hope they're all employed for many years."

Harris hopes that having her work adapted for live-action hasn't changed her style of writing. "I don't think you can write thinking, 'Maybe this will be on TV someday,' and try to make your book more action-figure type than it would necessarily be. That's not my job. My job is to write the best book I can, fulfill my contract with the reader, which is to provide them with the best book, the most entertaining book I can write. Anything after that is beyond my control."

Harris no longer takes part in the practice of imagining certain actors to portray the characters she has created. "I kind of gave that up along with True Blood too. I want them to cast the best person for the role, not the one who looks most like the character in the books and inevitably, I would think about someone who looked like the character as I described them. I think you have to be able to see beyond that to the actor who can carry that character for several seasons if need be and I hope they will have to."

Harris is also full of praise for the Midnight, Texas cast. "I'm on board! Of course Peter was in True Blood also and so I knew he was good and he's got that gravitas. I'm so impressed with Yul as the Reverend. There again he's not the stick-like elver man I described but he's got the presence, huge presence. Oh and Jason as the angel, oh my gosh! He's so good. They're all good! Dylan and Parisa and Sarah and of course Fran├žois, I really think they've gotten a really cohesive group that all stick up for each other."

The plot and greater themes of Midnight, Texas are highly relevant to the currently tumultuous sociopolitical climate of the world. It's a strength that gives the content greater weight and a means of connecting to the audience. "I think you write what's really pressing in you. I think the fact that people need to band together to present a united front is pretty important, especially now. When [I] write, I always have a message. Whether people get it or not is kind of up to them. If people just want to read the books for entertainment, that too is fine cause books are entertainment. I'm in the entertainment industry anyway. But I do have a message and I really hope it resonates with people and it gives them a minute to think about it. I'm not a preacher. I think that people who feel like they're outcasts or different or not mainstream for whatever reason can find family and likemindedness with each other. That's not exactly a new or startling message but it seems like a message that needs repeating."

Watch our full interview with Charlaine Harris here:


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