I was thirteen when I spent the night at my friend’s house. He had just moved to town, and this was the first time that I’d seen his bedroom. As I gazed around his room, I remember seeing comic books, a skateboard, skateboard magazines, rap and indie rock CD’s, and several comic book and skateboard posters on his walls. It was then that I noticed a small desk. On top of the desk were notebooks, several pens and pencils, some schoolbooks, and a used well-worn paperback novel.
I was drawn to the paperback. Making my way to my friend’s desk, I picked up the novel. The title simply said Interview with the Vampire. I immediately looked to see who the author was… Anne Rice. The next morning, I asked my friend if I could borrow Interview with the Vampire. When I got home, I quickly rushed to my room and began reading. It was there that I met Louie, Lestat, Claudia, and Armand. But most importantly, it was the first time I met Anne Rice, and I fell in love with her writing.
Now I’m forty-four years old, and I still read Interview with the Vampire at least twice a year. I also write short stories, due in large part because I discovered Anne’s talent as a writer. She and Stephen King have been the most influential writers of my writing life. They are the ones that made me fall in love with the written word.
Several days ago, I heard the news from the author’s son that Anne had a stroke and had passed away. I’m still shocked. I knew as I was hearing the news that it wasn’t hitting me. Yes, I knew she had died, but it didn’t seem real. Later that day, it hit me hard. I started realizing that I will never get another vampire chronicles book from Anne Rice. I’ve never broken down when a celebrity has died, but I can no longer say that. Memories of reading her books in high school started to come back, and I began to cry.
With Anne’s passing, I can think of no other time to do this tribute in her honor. Let’s celebrate the life of Anne Rice and all of her literary accomplishments.
Anne Rice’s Early Life
There are two things that Anne Rice has loved since childhood: the cities of New Orleans and San Francisco. She was born in New Orleans, and later moved to San Francisco where she married her husband, Stan. These two cities had quite an impact on her as most of her novels take place in both cities.
The Catholic Church was something else that formed her early years. The first school she attended as a young girl was Redemptorist Catholic School of New Orleans. Sometime in her early adult life, Anne had second thoughts about the Catholic faith and became an agnostic. You can also see this struggle with religion all throughout her novels. One will remember that Louie in Interview with the Vampire had a brother who was a Catholic priest. Louie struggles throughout the story with belief in God. We can see Anne’s own struggle with faith, which is what Interview with the Vampire is really about.
Something else that impacted the author’s early life was the death of her mother when Anne was only fourteen. Her mother died of alcoholism. In Interview with the Vampire, Louie is an alcoholic and depressed over his brother’s suicide. It’s quite fascinating just how much of her personal life is in Interview with the Vampire.
The Loss Of Michele Rice
The main factor in Anne Rice wanting to write her debut novel was the death of her daughter. Michele Rice died just weeks before she was going to turn six-years-old. At two-years-old, she developed Leukemia which later took her life.
The death of her daughter is symbolized in the death of Claudia. For quite awhile, I had found Claudia to be insufferable and annoying. When I learned that the death of her daughter was what propelled her to write Interview with the Vampire, I looked at Claudia in a new light.
After learning this news, I could only imagine how hard it was for Anne to write those scenes. Honestly, it must have been incredibly hard to write the entire novel. You can see her mother’s alcoholism, the author’s own doubts about religion and the death of her daughter in Claudia.
I could add something to this, but I think I will let Anne speak in her own words:
“It’s an awful truth that suffering can deepen us, give a greater luster to our colors, a richer resonance to our words.”
The success of Anne Rice in the ’80s and ’90s
Some might think that when Interview with the Vampire debuted in 1976, it instantly became a bestseller. People didn’t actually discover the book until the eighties. That was when readers started to talk about Anne Rice and her miserable, immortal vampires.
Her fame grew even larger when the eighties faded into the nineties when Anne Rice became a literary rock star. There are stories of the author showing up at book signings laying inside a coffin. She would rise from the coffin in a Gothic black dress. Her fans would laugh alongside of her as she began signing books.
Another thing that catapulted Anne Rice’s fame was Robert Jordan’s adaptation of Interview with the Vampire for the big screen. I can still remember seeing the movie at my local theater Sitting in the dark, hearing the soundtrack, seeing the camera pan through the streets of New Orleans, I knew I was in Anne Rice’s universe. I thought the film was brilliant and was a great adaptation of the novel.
My fascination with Anne grew even more when I learned that yes, she really does keep a coffin in her house. There always seemed to be this air of mystery surrounding her. Honestly, I never thought she was weird; she was just living the gimmick. Plus, her fans loved her for it.
After Anne Rice had died on December 11, 2021, her son, Christopher, said that his Aunt Karen held her sister’s hand and said, “What a ride you took us on, kid.” Her sister is right. What a legacy she has left behind! Although, she and her husband lost their daughter at such a young age, their depression and broken hearts were soon mended by the birth of their son Christopher. Just like his mother, Christopher Rice is an accomplished author. Her sister, Karen O’ Brien, is also an author.
Anne Rice has earned two major awards: the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2003 and the World Horror Convention Grand Master Award in 1994.
For the last week, I’ve seen fans all over the world share pictures of Anne and give testimonials on how they discovered her. I can’t think of any higher goal for a novelist than to have such a loyal fan base as Anne Rice had. Although it’s sad and heartbreaking to lose her, her words are immortal, just like the vampires she wrote about.
I’m convinced that, thirty years from now, people will still regard Anne Rice as the best writer of vampiric fiction. Long live the queen!