Anne Rice, author of “Interview With the Vampire”, dies at 80


Anne Rice, the novelist whose “Interview with the Vampire” and other lush gothic bestsellers reinvented the blood-drinking immortal as a tragic antihero, has died. she was 80

Rice died as a result of a stroke, as her son Christopher Rice announced on her Facebook page his twitter page without revealing the location.

“As a writer, she taught me to transcend genre boundaries and indulge in my obsessive passions,” wrote Christopher Rice, who is also an author. “In her final hours, I sat by her hospital bed in awe of her accomplishments and courage.”

Rice’s 1976 novel Interview With the Vampire was later adapted from a screenplay by Rice into the 1994 film directed by Neil Jordan and starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. It is also set to be re-adapted in an upcoming TV series on AMC and AMC+, due to premiere next year.

Interview with the Vampire, in which reporter Daniel Molloy interviews Louis de Pointe du Lac, was Rice’s first novel. Over the next five decades, she wrote more than 30 books and sold more than 150 million copies worldwide. Thirteen of these were part of The Vampire Chronicles, which began debuting in 1976. Long before “Twilight” or “True Blood,” Rice ushered lush romance, female sexuality, and queerness — many took “Interview With the Vampire” as an allegory for homosexuality — into the supernatural genre.

“I have written novels about people who are excluded [of] Living for different reasons,” Rice wrote in her 2008 memoir Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession. “This became a big theme in my novels – how one suffers as an outcast, how one is excluded from different levels of meaning and ultimately from human life itself.”

Reaction to Rice’s death was as varied as the wide-ranging fan base the author had amassed over decades. “Your mom wrote some cool stories – and her work will always be part of my personal journey,” wrote Thandiwe Newton, the Westworld actor who played Yvette in Interview With the Vampire, in response to the Twitter announcement by Christopher Rice.

The Monster of Her Age author Danielle Binks tweeted, “Anne Rice was an author who had a really complicated (and fascinating) relationship with fans and fandom… but she leaves quite a literary legacy to contribute to , dragging a genre and a monster into modern times.”

Born Howard Allen Frances O’Brien in 1941, Rice grew up in New Orleans, where many of her novels were set. Her father worked for the postal service, but made sculptures and novels on the side. Her older sister Alice Borchardt also wrote fantasy and horror novels. Rice’s mother died when Rice was 15.

Raised in an Irish Catholic family, Rice initially envisioned becoming a priestess (before realizing women were not allowed) or a nun.

In 1961 she married poet Stan Rice, who died in 2002. They lived amid the bohemian scene of 1960s San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, where Rice described himself as “a square”, typed and studied writing at San Francisco State University while everyone else partied. Together they had two children: Christopher and Michelle, who died of leukemia in 1972 at the age of 5.

While mourning Michelle’s death, Rice wrote “Interview With the Vampire” and turned one of her short stories into a book. Rice attributed her fascination with vampires to the 1934 film Dracula’s Daughter, which she saw as a young girl.

Although Rice initially had trouble getting it published, Interview With the Vampire was a smash hit, especially in paperback. She did not immediately expand on the story and followed it up with two historical novels and three erotic novels, which she wrote under the pseudonym AN Roquelaure. (Rice later explained in a 2014 interview with Carolyn Kellogg in The Times, “What I write is pornography through and through. I think it’s a beautiful word. The only reason I don’t use it more often is because it misunderstood and people want to call it eroticism.”)

In 1985, she released The Vampire Lestat, about the Interview With the Vampire character, who she would return to in books like 2018’s Blood Communion: A Tale of Prince Lestat.

In Rice’s “Vampire Chronicles” some critics only saw cheap eroticism. But others – including millions of readers – saw the most consistent take on vampires since Bram Stoker.

“Let me suggest a reason why the books found a mass audience. They were written by someone whose auditory and visual experiences shaped prose,” Rice wrote in her memoir. “I’m a terrible reader. But my head is full of these auditory and visual lessons, and fueled by them I can write about five times faster than I can read.”

Rice wrote often about her faltering spiritual journey. Her memoir — written after she sold her 47,000-square-foot New Orleans mansion and moved to Rancho Mirage — was part of her attempt to establish a reputation as a serious Christian writer.

“My son Christopher suggested it,” she told the Times of the move. “He said if you want to live somewhere where the sky is blue 350 days a year, the Palm Springs area is it. And so I came here and fell in love.”

In Coachella Valley, she said she hopes to “take the tools, the training, whatever I learned as a vampire writer, or whatever I was, to be able to take those tools now and put them into the service of God is a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful opportunity,” she told Cain Burdeau in a 2008 interview with the Times. “And I hope that in this way I can redeem myself. I hope the Lord will accept the books I am writing now.”

But in 2010 she announced that she was no longer a Christian, saying in an interview with The Times: “I have come to the conclusion, based on my experience of organized religion, that I must go, I must go, in the name of Christ , hands off it. It’s about rejecting what I’ve found out about the persecution of gay people, the persecution and oppression of women, and the actions of the churches on many different levels. I have also found that I can find no basis in Scripture for many positions taken by churches and denominations today, and I can find no basis at all for an anointed, hierarchical priesthood.”

When asked if there was a single moment that led to her turning away from Christianity, she raised several issues, including the Catholic Church’s positions on gay marriage and the AIDS epidemic. “But the last straw, the very last straw, was the Bishop of Phoenix, Arizona, Thomas Olmsted, who came out and to publicly condemn a nun on behalf of Sister Margaret McBride for authorizing a life-saving abortion for a dying mother at a Phoenix hospital,” she told The Times’ Mitchell Landsberg. “What he was essentially saying was that she had excommunicated herself by authorizing the abortion, and I could write a book about why I think that was a reckless and immoral decision.”

In 2014, after an 11-year hiatus from her vampire franchise and the rise of “Twilight” and “True Blood” as objects of pop culture fandom, Rice brought her vampires back and was more reflective in the process with the novel Prince Lestat about her Catholic upbringing. “I will never quite get over the damage done to me by the Catholic attitude towards sex,” she told the Times. “The hatred of sex, the loathing of it, and the denial of the loathing of it.”

Rice’s longtime editor, Victoria Wilson, remembered her as “a fierce storyteller who wrote big, lived quietly, and imagined worlds on a grand scale.”

“She summoned the sentiments of an age long before we knew what they were,” Wilson said in a statement. “As a writer, she was decades ahead of her time.”

Rice will be buried during a private ceremony at a family mausoleum in New Orleans, her family said. A public celebration is planned for next year in New Orleans. Ramses the Damned: The Reign of Osiris, a novel Rice co-wrote with her son Christopher, will be released in February.

Associated Press and Times contributor Christi Carras contributed to this report. Anne Rice, author of “Interview With the Vampire”, dies at 80

Caroline Bleakley

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