I sort of lurk on a website that distills a lot of this stuff for the reader and I give silent thanks for my time there to all its posters, who give me so much food for thought. I know that Charlaine Harris and Alan Ball have said a lot of negative things about the character of Eric Northman in interviews in recent weeks. In Harris's and Ball's hands, the words evil, bad, frightening, dark have all seemed to come up just recently, being applied to the character of Eric in a fashion that clearly the majority of readers of E&S fanfic will simply not identify with. Most of us see an Eric that seems unusual among his kind. Liberal, protective, definitely not abusive. Not given to killing just for killing's sake, at least in Charlaine Harris's first nine books. Is all the current talk that Eric is so bad in the media just spin to sell a TV show, to sell more books by making the character edgier? Is it the author herself taking a second look at what she wrought and deciding that she doesn't like the way it's going or is it that it wasn't going where we all thought thought it was? Will the character of Eric Northman turn out to have been a fa├žade covering a cruel or manipulative vampire that Sookie should have been wary of all along? Who knows. It's, after all, a mystery. ;) Until the book series is spun out in its entirety, really the only one who knows, and probably not even until she writes that last word, is Charlaine Harris herself.

Personally, I'm stuck in the mode that Eric Northman was a good character. One who stood out and above the world that surrounded him. Playing by his own rules, which as a vampire, he was freer to define. Better than most vampires, better even than many humans (Arlene, anyone?), the Eric Northman of the first nine Sookie Stackhouse books had a code which he appeared to abide by. I'm sticking with that Eric and if Charlaine Harris decides to take him darker and even just scrub the character entirely in terms of his merit, I'll just stick with those first nine books, largely written before the TV series and the character of Eric Northman became an unfortunate media extravaganza. (But I have to say I'd be amazed if he turned out to be dark and really bad.)

The thing that leads me back to writing these characters (other than the many, many lovely fans who PM me, review me, and ask for and encourage more) is the opportunity to explore just what it means to be human, humane, to be different and contemplate tolerance of that difference. Most of all, there is the question of how to bring out the best in any of us, regardless of where we are in life. As Sookie herself says, she wants to be a better version of herself. Perhaps vampires wish to be better versions of themselves as well.

Fans of Greg Mortensen's Three Cups of Tea are absolutely entreated to check out Greg's new book, Stones into Schools. You can find it on Amazon or go to Greg's website, stonesintoschools dot com. Really, when you think of doing good, there are precious few people on the planet of this guy's measure, right?

Since it's Thanksgiving weekend as I publish this story, I just want to say: Thanks to all my lovely, lovely readers and correspondents. I'm thankful to all of you for your kind comments and your generous feedback. I'll really try to keep up with my policy of always responding, though I know it sometimes takes a while to get to you. I especially thank you for your kind comments in reviews. Writers just thrive on that positive feedback. You're really the reason I keep writing these characters (although I do kind of like them). It's an immense gift to have people writing to me looking forward to what I've written. I appreciate it a great deal.