Charlaine grew up in the cotton fields, where her father farmed the rich Delta soil while her mother nourished young minds as a librarian.
“I had a very solitary childhood, in some respects, which was greatly to my benefit because I read a lot.”
The past smiles back as we talk about her youth, and the fact that some-50 years later, this best-selling novelist is living her dream.
When asked when she started writing, Charlaine replied “When I could hold a pencil, I always wanted to write – thought it the most wonderful thing to be.”
Then Charlaine moved to Memphis to attend what is now Rhodes College. It was there that professors encouraged her to express her creativity.
“It’s a wonderful place to go if at all creative,” Charlaine said. “[It] gives you freedom to be creative in as many ways as you can think of.”
After graduation, a job as a typesetter at FedEx kept Charlaine in Memphis, but what happened next changed her life.
“I’m a rape survivor so I do tap into that real strongly when I’m writing,” revealed Charlaine. “A guy broke into my apartment. I didn’t know him… they caught him eventually.”
The emotional and physical fallout from that attack is echoed in her “Lily Bard” series of books, set in fictional Shakespeare, Arkansas. And, to a lesser degree, in every female protagonist Charlaine has penned from Harper Connelly in the “Grave” series.
Like Charlaine, her female leads are strong women with a traumatic past, a past that haunts and molds the present and future.
“I’m always wishing I were stronger,” Charlaine shared. “My mother brought me up to be a strong woman and always said a woman can do whatever they have to do.”