Remembering Anne Rice

Two of my treasured Anne Rice volumes

I was saddened over the weekend to hear about Anne Rice’s passing. Her writing entertained me, provided food for thought, and even inspired me. I’m afraid I never had the opportunity to meet her in person, but I was fortunate enough to find a signed copy of Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis at the Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans a few years ago and while I’ll admit it’s not my favorite entry in the Vampire Chronicles, it’s still a treasured part of my collection. In the photo with my signed copy is another treasured part of my book collection. It’s an early copy of Interview with the Vampire. I especially like the back cover where actors posed as Lestat, Louis, and Claudia.

I discovered Anne Rice’s writing in the early 1990s while working at Kitt Peak National Observatory. Those of us who worked nights at the telescope were often referred to as the vampires of the observatory because we generally weren’t seen when the sun was up. One of my fellow telescope operators was a fan of Anne Rice and encouraged me to give Interview with the Vampire a try. At the time, boxed sets were widely available with all the Vampire Chronicles in print at the time, which were Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, Queen of the Damned, and Tale of the Body Thief. I breezed through all four novels in rapid succession. I especially enjoyed Rice’s take on the vampire as protagonist and even misunderstood hero. Soon after reading the books, I read an interview with Rice and learned that she wrote Interview with the Vampire as part of dealing with the grief of the loss of her daughter. Having lost my father at a young age, I’d long been oversensitive to the notion of my own mortality and I began to think about what I would do if I ever decided to create a vampire hero.

Those thoughts coalesced just a few short years later when I moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico and a friend wondered what a vampire would make of “the City of Crosses.” This led me to my first vampire short story. After a few more, I felt I understood my characters well enough to write the novel Vampires of the Scarlet Order.

Of course, even as I wrote, Rice continued to write. Her next Vampire Chronicle was Memnoch the Devil. One of the things that began to appeal to me about vampire stories was how you could view large swaths of history from a single character’s point of view. In the fifth vampire chronicle, not only did Rice look at Biblical history but considered theology through Lestat’s vantage point. I’ve never quite questioned my faith in the ways that Rice questioned her own, but I have had questions about my faith and the interplay of that faith with dimly viewed moments in history, such as Arthurian legend. Her open and frank approach to Memnoch the Devil would inspire me when I wrote Dragon’s Fall, the prequel to Vampires of the Scarlet Order.

I’ve continued to enjoy Anne Rice’s vampire chronicles and other novels. I wrote some reviews of her later novels, which I was pleased to see her share on social media. While I’m sorry I never had the opportunity to meet Anne Rice in person, I’m glad to have been able to share how her work had touched me. While I thought some of her novels were much stronger than others, all of her novels entertained me. I’ve been starting to think about a third Scarlet Order vampire novel. I’m sure Rice’s works will continue to speak to me as I think and plot and plan. Like her own hero, Lestat, I’m pretty sure Anne Rice will live forever.

5 comments on “Remembering Anne Rice

  1. Willow Croft says:

    Aw, jeez. I was an avid Anne Rice reader in the 90s, as well.

    • It was very sad news to wake up to on Sunday morning. There was something very personal about her writing that made me feel almost like I knew her, even though we’d never met.

      • Willow Croft says:

        I know. I flashed right back to my time in the 90s goth/industrial scene. Dancing and sipping blood-red jager and breathing in the aroma of clove cigarettes and feeling like we were eternal ourselves…

  2. This will probably sound rather weird; frankly it’s somewhat embarrassing. But I honestly don’t know if I ever met Anne Rice or not. I’ve know several people who did know her or her family, so it’s possible I could have been introduced to her and not realized who she was.

    In any case, it fascinates me how vampire stories have changed so much over the centuries. And it’s interesting how Rice’s depiction of vampires was apparently a major influence on the creation of a real-life subculture.

    • Not remembering whether or not you met Anne Rice doesn’t sound all that strange to me. I’ve encountered enough people who I later discovered to be famous in some way that I could certainly see the situation you describe happening.

      The evolution of the vampire in literature and the development of the subculture, especially in the wake of Rice’s descriptions, is definitely interesting.

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