Book Review: Day Shift by Charlaine Harris, plus Q&A with the author

Thanks to the lovely people at Gollancz, I received a review copy of Day Shift, the second book in the Midnight, Texas series by the wonderful Charlaine Harris.

day shiftWelcome to Midnight, Texas.

It’s a quiet little town, perched at the junction between Davy Road and Witch Light Road, and it’s easy to miss. With its boarded-up windows, single traffic light and sleepy air, there’s nothing special about Midnight . . . which is exactly how the residents like it.

So when the news comes that a new owner plans to renovate the run-down, abandoned old hotel in town, it’s not met with pleasure. Who would want to come to Midnight, with its handful of shops, the Home Cookin diner, and quiet residents – and why?

But there are bigger problems in the air. When Manfred Bernado, the newest resident in town, is swept up in a deadly investigation suddenly the hotel and its residents are the least of the towns concern. The police, lawyers and journalists are all headed to Midnight, and it’s the worst possible moment…

First, the book. I have to say that Day Shift grabbed me much faster than Midnight Crossroad did. Perhaps it’s because I’m more invested in the characters now, or that I finally realised just how many of them are from Charlaine’s other series, all of which I adore. (I have to admit, just how long it took me to realise this fact does make me feel somewhat foolish.) Whatever the reason, I tore through Day Shift in a couple of sittings, devouring every word, and feeling bereft when it was over.

I don’t want to give anything away, but this book in particular really appealed to the Sookie Stackhouse lover in me. It has mystery, magic, and marvellous characters. I loved finding out more about some of those characters, and really connecting with their back stories. Once again, Harris has created a world in which I want to live, with people I want to know, and an undercurrent of magic that I wish existed.

I also have to say just how much I love the author. Charlaine Harris is not only a fantastic writer, but she’s also a wonderful person. She was kind enough to be interviewed for my Ask the Author feature last year, and she also agreed to answer a few questions on this new series, for which I am incredibly grateful. My thanks also go to the lovely Paula, for setting the interview photo

What inspired you to use a setting like Midnight, Texas in your new series?

I had been thinking about my childhood quite a bit, and remembering every summer when my mom would take my brother and me to Texas to stay with her parents so she could help them during Rodeo. They ran a hotel in Rocksprings, Texas, which is still standing and operating, by the way. My mother and her sisters worked really hard during Rodeo, but I was mostly good for getting in the way, as I recall. The culture and landscape were very different from the Delta area of Mississippi, where I grew up, and I thought it would be fun to set the new series in a place that’s not a literal rendition of Rocksprings, Texas, but a place more like my impression.

So far, I’ve noticed Manfred Bernardo, Barry Bellboy and Quinn the weretiger from other books. Are there any other characters from your other series that I’ve missed? Will any more be making an appearance in the future? 

Yes, you’ve skipped a few. Bobo Winthrop is from the Lily Bard series, and Arthur Smith is from the Aurora Teagarden books.

Why did you choose to develop some of these existing characters for this new series? 

Some characters you just miss. And (especially) for Bobo, I wanted to see how he’d turned out. He’s a mature man in the Midnight books, and he was a teen in the Lily Bard books. What’s happened to him in the intervening years? All the characters have had time to change to some extent. It was the change that interested me.

You have so many brilliantly written characters, in all of your series. What are your tips for developing such characters?

I think every book character has to work. But while they’re fulfilling their function, they can be interesting, too. It’s much more fun for the writer to give each character life. I think experience has a lot to do with being able to create characters who really stick with the reader.

How many books are planned for this new series? When should we expect the next one? 

May of next year will see the publication of NIGHT SHIFT. I’ve signed for three books, and that’ll complete the contract. We’ll see after that.

Take me back to Midnight. I’m sure I’m weird enough to fit right in.

To read my review of Midnight Crossroad, click here. Day Shift will be released on May 5th.


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