Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Redhead of the Week

McKenna Jordan, the new owner of Murder By the Book in Houston, gets her picture in the Houston Chronicle as a result of her being mentioned in two of Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse books.

The story, which you can read in full by clicking on the headline, REDHEAD OF THE WEEK, is about Charlaine and her connection to the famous bookstore. McKenna's name is used for a minor character and a clothing-store clerk.

Harris’ first Sookie Stackhouse novel, Dead Until Dark, sputtered into existence in 2001 with some help by Dean James, then the general manager of Murder By the Book.

Harris’ agent wasn’t keen on the idea of a vampire series, but bowed to James’ recommendation for the book and his knowledge of the genre and the market.

“I read it practically in one sitting and said, ‘This is wonderful,’ ” said James, who now works as a librarian in the medical center.

After two years, Dead Until Dark found a publisher, Harris said.

“The book might not have been published if he didn’t love it,” Harris said.

James was rewarded for his support with an acknowledgement at the start of the book. But his namesake in the book and show, Dean, is a very important collie. To give away more would spoil a surprise.

“Dean just has got sweet eyes, and I thought that was a sweet tribute to him,” Harris said.

Employees of Murder by the Book have appeared in Harris’ other works. But the 26-year-old new owner of the store, McKenna Jordan, gets a nod in two of the Sookie books. Her name is used for a minor character, a clothing-store clerk.

“I might just say, ‘Can I help you,’ but I’m in there,” Jordan said.

After more than two decades of writing, Sookie has taken Harris to best-seller lists. Now the publisher picks up the publicity tab. The first Sookie books were originally published in paperback. But the newer ones started in hardcover.

The HBO show, by Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball, has earned a dedicated fan base and two Golden Globe nominations, one for best television drama and another for Sookie.

In 2007, the publisher ACE Books shipped about 230,000 copies of the books to stores and customers. True Blood has boosted book sales. Since it first aired in the fall, the publisher sent out 2.3 million copies of the paperbacks, said Jodi Rosoff, associate director of publicity for ACE. Before the holidays, special box sets of all eight novels sold about 130,000 copies.

“It was successful before the show,” Rosoff said. “She moved from paperback to hardcover, and that is always a sign of success. But since the show there is a whole new audience that I don’t think would have gone to this type of book.”

Thanks to TARA DOOLEY of the Houstin Chronicle.

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