But she still disappoints some readers. Because Hamilton looks and talks like Anita, fans expect her to be Anita. "If I could do it all over," Hamilton jokes, "I would make Anita a blonde."

The confusion sometimes becomes annoying. In the fall of 2001, just before they were married in a Wiccan ceremony, Hamilton brought Green along on tour for the tenth Anita book, Narcissus in Chains. This book is a pivotal one in the series: Anita breaks up with Richard the werewolf for good and begins sleeping – and living – with two wereleopards, Micah and Nathaniel. Some fans immediately concluded that Hamilton based the novel on her divorce from her first husband and subsequent engagement to Green. They were furious.

"I was puzzled," says Green. "More people blamed me for breaking up the characters in the novel than they did for Laurell's divorce."

Laurell K. Hamilton
Jennifer Silverberg
Laurell K. Hamilton
Laurell K. Hamilton at her favorite local cemetery, Bellefontaine in north city. "I haven't set a book there," she says. "I don't want to go there for work."
Jennifer Silverberg
Laurell K. Hamilton at her favorite local cemetery, Bellefontaine in north city. "I haven't set a book there," she says. "I don't want to go there for work."

"People reacted as if I had dumped their favorite brother," Hamilton recalls. "I've never been able to kill the rumor that this book is about my real life."

Anita's living arrangements in Narcissus in Chains and subsequent books have made Hamilton an inadvertent spokeswoman for the polyamory community. "I'm one of the most practical romantics," she says.

"My husband and I actually talked about having a third adult in the house. Economically, why not have a household with three incomes? It's very practical, except for the whole human thing. The thought of finding another person who doesn't bug the crap out of me boggles me. And with every person, you add another heart to tap-dance around."

Anita is a lucky woman: All her lovers possess remarkable size and stamina. Some fans are envious. "They want inches!" Hamilton says. "They ask how well-endowed Jon is. They ask for phone numbers of Anita's men!"

It is because of this sort of intrusiveness — and the numerous men who proposition her at readings — that Hamilton always travels with security, which she pays for herself. Because of problems with stalkers, she no longer reveals exactly where she lives or the age of her daughter.

"This one weirdo wrote from prison," Cook recounts. "He said he loved Laurell and wanted to marry her. The woman he stalked and raped and beat — he no longer wanted to be with her. I forwarded the letter to his parole board."

"I have a new goal," Hamilton says. "I never want to appear on Jerry Springer or be the inspiration for an episode of Law & Order."

The majority of her fans, Hamilton is quick to note, are "the best in the world." She receives 100 e-mails every day and 100 letters per week; her monthly fan club newsletter, "News to Die For," has 3,500 subscribers.

"I've lost track of the number of people who've told me they got out of an abusive relationship because Anita wouldn't takeit," Hamilton says. "Women don't understand they don't have to be victims. It shocked me. I was raised to be strong to survive. I didn't realize people were so hungry for someone to tell them how to be strong."

Back at the wolf sanctuary, Hamilton obligingly chats with fans, signs their books, poses for pictures and agrees to join a ghost-hunting society. She has helped raised more than $3,000 for the wolves, all in all a good night's work.

But tomorrow morning she'll be back at her desk trying to steer Anita Blake through another series of adventures. "She's going to be hunting killers and trying not to sleep with anyone new," Hamilton promises. "She's tired and so am I."

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