PW:Cerulean Sins [see review p. 63] is your 11th Anita Blake book in 10 years. Did you have any idea that the series would last this long?

Laurell K. Hamilton: Yes, and no. When I sat down to create Anita and her world, I wanted a series that I would enjoy enough to write indefinitely. I tend to think in huge chunks. I think "series," which is great when a series is successful and depressing when it's not. I noticed in most series the writer tended to get tired around book five or eight. How to avoid this problem? Answer: give yourself enough imaginary toys to play with that you won't get bored. Let your world have scope, broad expanses on which to play. Anita is a mystery series, so I get to play with guns, private detectives, the police, murder and clues.

PW: Isn't Anita also a dark fantasy, or horror or science fiction series?

LKH: Yes, so I get to play with vampires, zombies, werewolves and magic. And although it took me a long time to understand it, it's a romance, too. The romance allows me to work on the relationships, romance and sex. The people that live in Anita's world grow and change. Not everyone makes the choices I want them to make, or even the choices I planned, but it's not my life, it's theirs. By letting my characters have their heads, we have ended up in places I never dreamt. I still have the 15 mystery plots I'd outlined tentatively for the series, but we haven't gotten to half of them yet because the books I've written have raised new characters, new plots, new mysteries, new places to go.

PW: Speaking of places to go—how are you dealing with the upcoming 16-city tour?

LKH: I am phobic of almost every mode of travel known to modern man. So here I am about to embark on an event that will put us on planes about once a day, met by strangers in a strange city, where these strangers will drive me and my husband through traffic, and I have to trust that they are good, competent drivers. They don't want to be in a car accident anymore than I do, right? It's great meeting all the fans, answering their questions—if only that teleportation technology would come on line.

PW: Have those fans had any influence on the direction of your books?

LKH: Fans affect the series in two ways. One: their letters and obvious interest in the character of Edward led me to write a book that centered on him, Obsidian Butterfly. Two: some fans take the books all too personally. These fans want me to write the books the way they want them written, and at one point during one of the tours they had a Internet campaign going to encourage people to get up in my face and force me to write what they wanted me to write. Unpleasant. Anita and I share one character trait very strongly. You tell us we can't do something, or try and force us to do something, and we are both more determined than ever not to cooperate. I fought very hard against this character trait, so that it didn't affect the next book, but I have to wonder if the next book would have been slightly different if they'd been less unpleasant.

PW: One of your influences has been Robert B. Parker's Spenser series. Parker has been quoted as saying, "Writing Spenser is like drinking cold beer on a hot summer afternoon." A pleasant thought. In a similar vein, what's writing Anita like?

LKH: Anita is like coming home after a hard day's work, slipping off the high heels, putting on the comfy sweats, settling down to cuddle with the person you love and saying, "Let me tell you a story."