Laurell Kaye Hamilton (born February 19, 1963) is an American horror and fantasy writer.
She was born in Heber Springs, Arkansas but grew up in Sims, Indiana. Her mother was killed in a car crash in 1969.
Today Laurell 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 fairy princess turned private investigator.
Hamilton's writing is characterized by vivid prose, erotic sensuality, and complex worldbuilding. She has gained a certain notoriety for the increasing amount of explicit sex in her novels.
Her writing style is unique enough (and successful enough) that some publishers have begun asking for 'Hamilton-esque' writers (such as Jim Butcher), something Hamilton herself laments in the hardcover re-release of The Laughing Corpse.
There has been conjecture about how Hamilton's divorce affected her writing and the amount of sex therein, but Hamilton has indicated that this is not necessarily true, instead citing her increased antagonism towards how people feel a woman "should" write and what topics are "right." Since sex is often seen as something women are not allowed to enjoy much less write about, the sex rate has increased.
The sexual content of the Anita Blake novels became both explicit and sadomasochistic in nature as the series progressed. Since Hamilton's vampires and lycanthropes are largely invulnerable and heal very quickly, it leaves them open to explore the more extreme aspects of BDSM. Concepts of slavery are present in the various vampire relationships (servants, "renfields", pomme de sangs, and the like). Anita herself is portrayed as being a very dominant personality, which- since she is romantically attracted to other dominants- complicates things. The few submissives in her life confuse her, especially since she considers them as being monsters, though she is slowly coming to understand their needs and viewpoint. This is particularly evident in her relationship with Nathaniel.
Comparison of themes in Meredith Gentry and Anita Blake novels
Appropriate expressions and uses of power are explored through themes of eroticism, violence, life, and death.
Meredith Gentry is a part-human, part-fairy fertility deity/avatar. Among her powers is to give birth and deity-like powers back to her barren fairy race, as well as the powers of calling forth blood from a wound upon a target, and or turning a target's body literally inside out.
Anita Blake is a professional necromancer and licensed vampire executioner. At the series' beginning, her only power is to temporarily raise and control the dead (as zombies) for legal purposes; however, she soon discovers that this ability also extends to control over the undead (vampires) as well. Subsequent books depict her manifestation of other powers as well.
Both are strong feminine lead characters who more than hold their own with male characters in the balance of power. Both acquire and inspire loyalty in followers from multiple competing camps, and thus have a unifying effect. They act unhesitatingly and ruthlessly to protect their followers when threatened.
Both experience unsettling growth in their powers as their series progress and are confronted with the issues of what will they use their powers for and how far will they go to protect their own.