Hamilton, Laurell K.
Hamilton, Laurell K. (1963–)(pop culture)
Laurell K. Hamilton is the author of an ongoing series of novels built around an alternative history in which the United States, and especially the futuristic St. Louis, Missouri, have altered society so that vampires and werewolves have been accepted into the social order. Through the 1990s, the series steadily gained an ever-increasing readership and Hamilton’s books rose to the top of the vampire genre market.
Hamilton was born Laurell Kaye Klein on February 19, 1963, in rural Arkansas. Raised in a Christian Holiness environment, she began writing horror fiction as a youth. She then attended Marion College (now Indiana Wesleyan University) where she enrolled in a creative writing program. She left it as her instructor was offended by her writing about both vampires and other horrors. With a prediction that her writing would never amount to anything, she finished her college education in the biology department. After college, with her husband Gary Hamilton, she moved to suburban St. Louis. In 1992, she saw her first novel, Nightseer, published. The first of the vampire/horror novels appeared the following year.
The key person in the new social order of alternate St. Louis in Hamilton’s novels is Anita Blake, described as an animator and vampire hunter. Blake is a good example of what in comic book publishing is now termed a “Bad Girl,” a woman who is able to keep up with the best of the superheroes, but is at the same time completely feminine and attractive to her male contemporaries. In Blake’s case, both a vampire and a werewolf are after her, and not to satiate their thirst and hunger.
In the novels, Blake earns her living by reanimating the dead and facilitating the gaining of important information from them. She also operates as a vampire hunter when the situation calls for it. At all times she is an intimate of the vampires and werewolves who live in St. Louis. Hamilton had noticed that in mystery novels female detectives did not get to do any of the fighting that their male counterparts enjoyed, and so she made sure that Anita did not lack violent encounters.
Hamilton’s first novel, Nightseer (1992), did not bring much notice, but the first of her Anita Blake novels, Guilty Pleasures (1993), took off and led to six sequels over the next five years. By the end of decade she had become one of the most noted writers in the vampire genre. The early novels were brought out in omnibus volumes by the Science Fiction Fan Club. A Laurell K. Hamilton Fan Club flourished. Much to the delight of fans, Hamilton continued to produce new Anita Black adventures through the first decade of the new century, with seventeen on the shelves by 2009, and others in the pipeline.
Meanwhile in 2006, a graphic arts adaptation of the initial Anita Blake novel, Guilty Pleasures was brought out as a cooperative venture by Dabel Brothers Productions and Marvel Comics. The monthly comic was drawn by Brett Booth from a script produced by Stacie M. Ritchie from Hamilton’s text. The comic books were regularly gathered into graphic novels. After a brief hiatus following issue No. 6 in 2007, the monthly issues resumed from Marvel with Ron Lim and Jess Ruffner as artist and writer. Along with Guilty Pleasures, Marvel also released a unique Anita Blake story, First Death, a prequel to Guilty Pleasures, which told the back story for Blake. It was written by Jonathon Green, and drawn by Wellington Alves. In 2009, Marvel released a new Anita Blake series, The Laughing Corpse.
As of 2009, Hamilton remains at the top of the list of those writer best known for their vampire related novels, though like most of them she writes other novels as well. She tries to maintain contact with a large readership through her Webpage at http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/. She is assisted in this process by the Laurell K. Hamilton Fan Club. It publishes the quarterly News To Die For Newsletter, and may be contacted at http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/fanclub.htm.