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For the past fourteen years, I've lived with a young woman named Sookie Stackhouse. She has become as familiar to me as the back of my own hand. It feels almost incredible to remember that after I wrote the first chapter of her story in 1999, my agent, Joshua Bilmes, had a hard time finding a home for Sookie. After two years, John Morgan at Ace thought publishing Dead Until Dark might be a good idea. So there are two very important thank-yous. Joshua has been my agent my entire writing career, and John is still my friend.
After John Morgan left Penguin (temporarily), I became the charge of renowned editor Ginjer Buchanan. She's had assistants come and go, but Kat Sherbo facilitated the incredibly difficult project of The Sookie Stackhouse Companion. And did it with grace.
A huge shout-out must go to the cover artist who has made my books so distinctive. Lisa Desimini, bless you forever.
There are too many people to thank, and I'm afraid I'll miss someone, but here goes. For Dead Ever After, attorney Mike Epley gave me invaluable advice, as he has on previous books. Mike, thanks for taking the time to answer long e-mails about women who get in legal trouble because they date vampires. Any mistakes I've made with this material are my own and don't reflect on Mike's excellence as a lawyer.
I can't neglect two friends who've become my readers and advisers, friends who've given me feedback and reassurance and encouragement in the past few years. Without them, this would have been much, much harder. Dana Cameron and Toni L. P. Kelner . . . I love ya. FPC forever!
On my website, www.charlaineharris.com, many thanks for the dedication of Dawn Fratini, who had no idea what she was getting into or how the site would explode. While I'm thinking of the website, let me thank my moderators, past and present, who not only have helped me in extremely trying situations but have also become my friends. Mods emeriti include Katie Phalen, Debi Murray, Beverly Battillo, and Kerri Sauer. Mods still manning the board include Victoria Koski, Michele Schubert, MariCarmen Eroles, and Lindsay Barnett. Rebecca Melson has been a tremendous help, in so many ways.
Finally, a huge hug of gratitude must go to Paula Woldan, also known as bffpaula, my assistant, my close friend, and my rock of a companion in journeys into the unknown. We have had a great time with great people on our travels, and I was able to relax and enjoy it because Paula always knew what was happening.
Victoria Koski, wearing a completely different hat from her moderator's Stetson, came on board to save me from drowning in the sea of detail that had become the Sookie Stackhouse series. Victoria assumed control of the ship just in time to keep it from foundering, and she's kept me pretty much on course since then. Thanks, continuity editor extraordinaire.
Alan Ball, who loved my books, gave them an incredible boost when he decided they might make a good television show. Thanks, Alan, for hours of entertainment and for some extraordinary experiences I would never have had if you and Christina and Gianna hadn't become part of my lifescape.
When I began the Sookie books, my daughter was eight years old. Now she's graduating from college. That fact, more than any other time marker, shocks me into the realization that I've been detailing Sookie's adventures for a very long time. So thanks to my family, particularly my husband, for putting up with all the absences, the distractions, the surprise visitors, and the embarrassing attention from strangers. Hal, Patrick, Timothy, Julia . . . I love you more than life. And our newer family members are just as dear.
My most profound gratitude must go to you, the readers, for your devotion to and investment in these characters I dreamed up. Thanks for sticking with me through the books that succeeded and the books that fell a bit short of my aspirations. I have always tried to give you my best; to me, that's part of the unwritten contract between writer and reader. I appreciate the incredible emotional response you have given me in return.