Laurell Kaye Hamilton (born February 19, 1963) is an American horror and science fiction/fantasy writer. She was born in Heber Springs, Arkansas but grew up in Sims, Indiana with her grandmother Laura Gentry (her mother died in 1969). Her education includes degrees in English and biology from Marion (now Indiana Wesleyan University), a Christian college in Indiana. Today Hamilton resides in St. Louis County, Missouri.
Her principal work is the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series, published by Penguin Group (USA), originally under their Ace Books imprint and now under Berkley Books. In 2000, she branched out and started the new Merry Gentry series about a faerie princess turned private investigator.
Hamilton's writing is characterized by vivid prose, complex worldbuilding, and a mix of genres.
The initial Anita Blake novels were usually classified as crime fiction, alternate history (a subset of science fiction), fantasy, or horror. The dialog and hard-boiled first-person viewpoint has been compared to Robert B. Parker. They have also been termed "supernatural thrillers" and compared to Stephen King.
The Merry Gentry series and later (post-2000) Anita Blake books have added more sexual content, with the result that later books are sometimes shelved in romance.
Hamilton is also noted for strong female characters. Hamilton has said:
- I started reading a lot of hardboiled detective fiction—Robert B. Parker in particular—and I read a lot of strong female protagonists. But there was one problem, a difference between the male and female protagonists of the different series—even the strongest of the women did not get to do some of the things the men got to do. [...] I thought this was unfair. So I wanted a heroine who would be as tough as the men or tougher, who would be able to address all these issues, and I wanted to strike a blow for equality. I may have gone a little far in that direction.
Her writing style is unique enough (and successful enough) that some publishers have begun asking for 'Hamilton-esque' writers of 'Paranormal Romance'. USA Today characterizes Danse Macabre as 'Paranormal Romance'. Penguin describes her work as 'Paranormal Romance'. The Juno Books Blog discusses 'Hamiltonesque' and 'Paranormal Romance', something Hamilton herself laments in the afterword of the hardcover re-release of The Laughing Corpse.
Criticism and the Author's Response
Many readers and former readers expressed dissatisfaction with Hamilton's increasing focus on her character Anita Blake's infection with the ‘ardeur’ (a supernatural hunger necessitating the person to feed it via direct or vicarious sexual energy) and added metaphysical powers. Some readers contend that these situations occur without the development of character or plot, and also force sex and dependency on a formerly independent female character. Others have commented upon the exploitation of sexual abuse, incest, and rape through its casual use in later books.
In a post in her blog made in December 2006, apparently aimed at a number of participants on the Laurell K. Hamilton forums, Hamilton acknowledged readers who, disappointed in recent Anita Blake novels, have chosen to stop reading her work altogether. She added that "life is too short to read books you don't like," and acknowledged that the books are "not comfortable." She suggested that these readers would prefer to read "books that don't make you think that hard." Hamilton then asserted that, aside from this group, there exist a number of "negative fans" who, claiming to have made this decision, continue to discuss later books in detail; she suggests that these individuals are either "closet readers" or comment based on others' opinions. The appellation "fan" refers to her perception that "only a fan would spend this much time and energy on anything." However, Hamilton suggested that sales figures establish the increasing popularity of the Anita Blake series. She concluded by rewarding "positive people," who are continuing to read the Anita Blake series, with information about her upcoming book.
Some critics have drawn similarities between this entry <and the infamous Anne Rice posting on amazon.com discussion forums of September 6, 2004 titled, "From the Author to the Some of the Negative Voices Here." Several major retail and book stores are considering moving the novels into an erotic literature category, which would impact future earnings by limiting the sales of the novels to persons over the age of 18.
Anita Blake series
- Guilty Pleasures (1993) ISBN 0-515-13449-X
- The Laughing Corpse (1994) ISBN 0-425-19200-8
- Circus of the Damned (1995) ISBN 0-515-13448-1
- The Lunatic Cafe (1996) ISBN 0-425-20137-6
- Bloody Bones (1996) ISBN 0-425-20567-3
- The Killing Dance (1997) ISBN 0-425-20906-7
- Burnt Offerings (1998) ISBN 0-515-13447-3
- Blue Moon (1998) ISBN 0-515-13445-7
- Obsidian Butterfly (2000) ISBN 0-515-13450-3
- Narcissus in Chains (2001) ISBN 5-558-61270-3
- Cerulean Sins (2003) ISBN 0-515-13681-6
- Incubus Dreams (2004) ISBN 0-515-13449-X
- Micah (2006) ISBN 0-515-14087-2 (novella, released February 28, 2006)
- Danse Macabre (2006) ISBN 0-425-20797-8 (released June 27, 2006)
- The Harlequin (2007)
- A Kiss of Shadows
- A Caress of Twilight
- Seduced by Moonlight
- A Stroke of Midnight
- Mistral's Kiss
- A Lick of Frost (forthcoming)
- Nightshade (Star Trek: The Next Generation authorized novel #24)
- Death of a Darklord (TSR's Ravenloft series.)
- Club Vampyre (Anita Blake collection, published by the Science Fiction Book Club, includes the first three novels in the series: Guilty Pleasure, The Laughing Corpse, and Circus of the Damned)
- Midnight Cafe (Anita Blake collection, published by the Science Fiction Book Club, includes the fourth through sixth novels in the series: The Lunatic Cafe, Bloody Bones, and The Killing Dance)
- Black Moon Inn (Anita Blake collection, published by the Science Fiction Book Club, includes the seventh and eighth novels in the series: Burnt Offerings and Blue Moon)
- Out Of This World (1st 100 pages of Narcissus in Chains)
- "A Clean Sweep" (first story in Superheroes, a 1995 anthology)
- Cravings (anthology, 2004)
- Bite (anthology, 2004)
- Strange Candy (14 published and unpublished short stories, released November 2006)
- Locus Online Interview (Sept 2000)
- The SF Site: A Conversation with Laurell K. Hamilton (Sept 2004)
- Interview with Bankrate.com (Nov 2004)
- Interview on Flames Rising (June 2006)
- Interview on wotmania.com (June 2006)
- Interview at SFFWorld.com