WIHM 2022: Anne Rice: A Life That Gave Us The Beauty Of The Night.

   Anne Rice burst onto the scene with her cult classic “Interview With a Vampire” in 1976.  It was the loss of her daughter Michelle that spurred her on to expand a short story into the gothic horror masterpiece we have today.  That novel turned all our preconceived notions of vampires on their heads.  After that success, she continued not only the Vampire Chronicles but also wrote about mummies (The Mummy Or Rameses the Damned which her son Christopher collaborated with her on the second and third novels in the trilogy), Jesus, angels, historical fiction, and even werewolves.   This doesn’t include her foray into erotic novels which are made up with the same lush details that she is known for in her other novels.

   Anne was born October 4th, 1941 in New Orleans, Louisiana where she lived with her family until the death of her mother in 1956.  In 1957 her father moved Anne and her siblings to Richardson, Texas.  It was there she met her husband Stan Rice in her senior year of high school.  After they married on October 14th, 1961 they bounced back and forth between Texas and California, finally ending up in San Francisco.  It was there she had her daughter Michele or “Mouse.”  Anne had been constantly writing for years but it was there that she wrote the short story Interview With a Vampire.  It was after Mouse died at 6 years old of leukemia that Anne expanded the short story into a full-blown novel.  In it Anne was the lost and questioning Louis and Mouse was the doomed Claudia.  But as the series continued and Lestat began to find his voice, Anne began to find hers.


   “I found out I was a woman and that women were different from men and that there were different expectations.  But the books, thank God, changed after that.  They became about other awakenings and other passages…” (p. 24, Conversations with Anne Rice).  She was referring to the fact that most of her main characters had been male.  She had not really done any female main characters.  Enter Anne Rampling and A. N. Roquelaure.  Under these pseudonyms, Anne wrote her erotica.  Her main characters were always female and they explored sexuality as well as the various forms it may take.  From there Anne began to include bigger and bolder female characters in her Vampire Chronicles.  She also began the Mayfair Witches series.


   Her personal life had changed as well.  On March 11th, 1978 her son Christopher was born.  As he grew so did her writing.  It had gained new hope.  Lestat, who was to become the main character of the beginning of Vampire Chronicles, stretched his legs and began to explore his new world.  His curiosity made for fascinating reading.  His quests for knowledge pulled readers into deep thoughts and discussions about where we come from and what our purpose in life is (or in the case of a vampire undeath).


   Her son Christopher watched his mother and her passion for writing and became a writer himself.  He has come into his own with his writing with his mother encouraging him both on and off the page.  One of their crowning glories was writing the two sequels to her novel Ramses the Damned together.  Their writing flows seamlessly together.  (The second of the novels, Ramses the Damned The Reign of Osiris, was published after her death on February 1st, 2022.)


   Anne Rice never slowed her writing.  She was constantly in search of new things.  In 2009 she decided to write from the perspective of a contract killer who meets an angel that offers him a chance to save lives rather than take them.  This story became the first of two novels dealing with the characters.  2012 saw the publication of her first werewolf novel The Wolf Gift.  She takes the same care with werewolves that she does with vampires.  


    By the time Anne Rice died in 2021, she had published 36 novels.  While that might not seem like a lot her readership spans the globe.  She has touched millions of lives with the Vampire Chronicles alone.  People related to the characters and their motivations.  Anne always found it funny that her historical novels with human characters were less relatable to her readers that the immortal ones.  But she was grateful to have been able to touch her readers’ lives.  Anne was always aware of her readers and she loved them.


   I once sent an email to Anne Rice on a whim.  I never expected anything to come of it.  Just a brief fan note to an idol.  I am sure she received thousands. I had just finished Christ is Lord, a fictional account of the early life of Jesus.  My email was short and sweet.


   “Dear Anne,

   Thank you so much for the book!  I am glad you waited to write it.  I am not a Christian but I feel as though I understand your faith more.

   You have come full circle. Congratulations and thanks again!


   Jen Griffin”


Her response was equally brief.


   “Thank you for the beautiful words.  Take care and be well, and let me tell you, this direct encouragement is invaluable to me.  I’m writing the second book right now.  Anne.”


   She will never know how much her response was to me.


   Katherine Ramsland in her biography of Anne Rice Prism of the Night writes, “Anne Rice is a curiosity.  She doesn’t just stick to ‘what works’ or what feels safe for her as a writer, but instead follows her imagination wherever it takes her, even if that means risk.” (P. x in the introduction).  Anne Rice’s writing has not only helped her readers through seemingly insurmountable problems in their personal lives but she has encouraged a whole new group of writers into being.



Conversations With Anne Rice by Michael Riley

Prism of the Night by Katherine Ramsland    

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