Touch of Dead, A - By Charlaine Harris
The first time I was asked to write a short story about my heroine Sookie Stackhouse, I wasn’t sure I could do it. Sookie’s life and history are so complex that I didn’t know if I could create a coherent piece of short fiction that would do her justice.
I’m still not sure I have, but I’ve enjoyed trying. Some efforts have been more successful than others. It’s been hard to fit the stories into Sookie’s larger history without leaving seams. Sometimes I succeeded, sometimes not. In this edition, I’ve tried to smooth out the edges of the story that was the most fun to write but wouldn’t fit in its chronological hole no matter how I pounded (“Dracula Night”).
In the order in which they occur in Sookie’s life, the stories are “Fairy Dust” (from Powers of Detection), “Dracula Night” (from Many Bloody Returns), “One Word Answer” (from Bite), “Lucky” (from Unusual Suspects ), and “Gift Wrap” (from Wolfsbane and Mistletoe).
“Fairy Dust” is about the fairy triplets Claude, Claudine, and Claudette. Following the murder of Claudette, Claude and Claudine seek Sookie’s help in determining the guilty party. Claude acquires a valuable asset in this story. The action in “Fairy Dust” takes place after the events in Dead to the World.
In “Dracula Night,” Eric invites Sookie to Fangtasia for the celebration of Dracula’s birthday, an annual event that makes Eric almost over-the-top with anticipation, since Dracula is his hero. Unfortunately, the “Dracula” who unveils himself may or may not be the real thing. Eric celebrates “Dracula Night” before the action of Dead as a Doornail.
After Dead as a Doornail, the news of her cousin Hadley’s death reaches Sookie in “One Word Answer.” Sookie is informed of Hadley’s demise by the half-demon lawyer Mr. Cataliades, who has a loathsome driver and an unexpected passenger in his limo.
“Lucky” is a lighthearted story set in Bon Temps in the time period after All Together Dead. Witch Amelia Broadway and Sookie are on the hunt to find out who’s sabotaging the town’s insurance agents.
On Christmas Eve, Sookie receives a very unexpected visitor in “Gift Wrap.” She’s alone and feeling a little sorry for herself when a wounded werewolf supplies her with a satisfying gift. I’m pleased she has such an interesting holiday before the grim events of Dead and Gone.
I had a good time writing all these stories. Some are totally lighthearted, and some are more serious, but they all shine a light on a little facet of Sookie’s life and times that I haven’t recorded in the books. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.
Let the good times roll.
I hate it when fairies come into the bar. They don’t tip you worth a toot—not because they’re stingy, but because they just forget. Take Claudine, the fairy who was walking in the door. Six feet tall, long black hair, gorgeous; Claudine seemed to have no shortage of cash or clothing (and she entranced men the way a watermelon draws flies). But Claudine hardly ever remembered to leave you even a dollar. And if it’s lunchtime, you have to take the bowl of lemon slices off the table. Fairies are allergic to lemons and limes, like vamps are allergic to silver and garlic.
That spring night when Claudine came in I was in a bad mood already. I was angry with my ex-boyfriend, Bill Compton, a.k.a. Vampire Bill; my brother, Jason, had again postponed helping me shift an armoire; and I’d gotten my property tax notice in the mail.
So when Claudine sat at one of my tables, I stalked over to her with no very happy feelings.
“No vamps around?” she asked straightaway. “Even Bill?”
Vamps like fairies the way dogs like bones: great toys, good food. “Not tonight,” I said. “Bill’s down in New Orleans. I’m picking up his mail for him.” Just call me sucker.
Claudine relaxed. “Dearest Sookie,” she said.
“You want what?”
“Oh, one of those nasty beers, I guess,” she said, making a face. Claudine didn’t really like to drink, though she did like bars. Like most fairies, she loved attention and admiration: my boss, Sam, said that was a fairy characteristic.
I brought her the beer. “You got a minute?” she asked. I frowned. Claudine didn’t look as cheerful as usual.
“Just.” The table by the door was hooting and hollering at me.
“I have a job for you.”
Though it called for dealing with Claudine, whom I liked but didn’t trust, I was interested. I sure needed some cash. “What do you need