‘Interview With the Vampire’ Author Was 80 – The Hollywood Reporter

Anne Rice, the famous New Orleans writer whose sensational debut novel “Interview With the Vampire” sent her on a supernatural journey by writing about bloodsuckers, witches and werewolves, died on Saturday of a stroke. She was 80.

Rice’s son Christopher Rice announced the news on social media. “She left us for almost 19 years to the day my father, her husband Stan, died,” he wrote. “The endless grief of our family cannot be emphasized enough.”

The writer, who lived in Rancho Mirage, California, was surrounded by family. “In her final hours, I sat beside her hospital bed in awe of her accomplishments and her courage, awash with memories of a life that led us from the mist-shrouded hills of the San Francisco Bay Area to the magical streets of New Orleans with sparkling views of Southern California” , he added. “As she kissed Anne goodbye, her younger sister Karen said, ‘What a ride you took us, boy.’ I think we all agree. “

Rice’s nearly 40 novels, published over half a century, sold around 135 million copies, making her one of the most popular fantasy writers of all time.

Rice adapted her first book into the 1994 Warner Bros. film, starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, and six of her other novels, including Exit to Eden and Queen of the Damned, have also been turned into films and / or televised films.

She viewed the struggles of outsiders as a continuous line in her work, which included the erotic Sleeping Beauty series (written under the name AN ​​Roquelaure) and at the other end of the spectrum alongside her novels Vampire Chronicles and Mayfair Witches. her deeply religious Christ the Lord books.

Rice also used the pen name Anne Rampling for Exit to Eden from 1985 and Belinda from 1986. It was a tribute to British actress Charlotte Rampling, whose performance she loved in the erotic 1974 film The Night Porter.

Interview With the Vampire, first published in 1976, tells the life story of the vampires Louis (Pitt in the film) and his father Lestat (Cruise), who embark on a 200-year journey through history that begins and ends in a slave plantation in Louisiana moved to Rice’s home in New Orleans, France and Eastern Europe.

With a plot that features two male vampires raising a vampire child, the book subtly picks up on subjects that were ahead of their time in mainstream literature. Rice attributes the book’s mythical quality to being able to discern deeper truths about life: “For some reason I can see reality when working with these cartoon vampire characters, these fantasy characters. I can touch reality, ”she said.

New Orleans’ Gothic architecture – particularly her pre-Civil War Garden District home – and vibrant culture served as inspiration, with her hometown also being the backdrop for her other major series, The Mayfair Witches.

His first book, The Witching Hour from the 1990s, is about a neurosurgeon named Rowan Mayfair who discovers her clan’s southern roots and the magical legacy of her female ancestors. The trilogy spans the family’s 400-year history and examines the supernatural archenemy that haunts them.

Anne Rice was born Howard Allen Frances O’Brien on October 4, 1941 in New Orleans. She was named after her father, it was said, because her mother, Katherine, thought the unusual name would help a girl get ahead in life.

Rice, however, grew up embarrassed by her first name, and when asked to introduce herself to a teacher on the first day of school, she spontaneously replied that she was Anne. The name stuck and she would make it legal.

She was the second of four girls (older sister Alice Borchardt also became a novelist, best known for her Legends of the Wolves trilogy, and sister Tamara Tinker became a poet). Rice’s father was a World War II Navy veteran working in the postal service; Her mother died of complications from alcoholism when Rice was a teenager.

“My mom believed we could do great things,” she told Alice Cooper in a 2016 interview with Billboard. “She told us stories about the Bronts and how they wrote under male names in order to be accepted by the writers; it filled my head with stories about Dickens and all that he had achieved through his novels in terms of social justice. My mom believed in me totally and even though she died when I was 14 years old, I took her trust and trust to heart and have lived my whole life.

Rice’s father remarried in 1957 and moved the family to the suburbs of Dallas, where she graduated from Richardson High School. She attended Texas Woman’s University for a year and then North Texas State College before dropping out and moving to San Francisco, where she worked as an insurance claims expert.

From California, she met again with high school friend Stan Rice, who proposed marriage to her by letter. They married in 1961 and settled in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. After several false starts, she completed her bachelor’s degree in political science in 1964 and then earned a master’s in creative writing from San Francisco State.

The couple had a daughter, Michele, in 1966, but she was diagnosed with leukemia and died at the age of 5. In the painful aftermath, Rice spent significant amounts of time drinking and writing, and was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

Michele’s death “had a devastating effect,” she told Playboy in 1993. “There is a time after a death like this when you don’t think the lights will ever come on again. I remember finding it difficult to swallow food even in the weeks after her death. “

At this point, she turned a short story she had written into the novel Interview with the Vampire. “I was just a drunk, hysterical person with no job, no identity, no nothing,” she said. “After her death there were two years when I just drank a lot and wrote a lot, like crazy. Then I kind of got out and wrote Interview With the Vampire. My husband had said to me, ‘I really believe in your writing.’ … I’ve always had the feeling that this is one of the greatest things he has ever done for me, besides being his wonderful self. “

Although the novel is about a 6-year-old who is killed and turned into an immortal, Rice said she never consciously associated Vampire’s conspiracy with Michele’s death (including Stan, a poet and painter). “When I look back on it, I think, ‘How on earth could I be so distant?’ But I really didn’t think it was about my life. “

After Rice was rejected by numerous publishers, Rice met the agent Phyllis Seidel at an author conference and helped her to get in touch with Alfred K. Knopf. The company paid an unusually large advance on a new writer at the time – $ 12,000 – and the novel was published in 1976 for Revenue.

Rice personally adapted the story into the script for the film; a critical and commercial success, grossing $ 223.7 million worldwide (nearly $ 400 million today).

Controversy during the making of the Neil Jordan-directed film centered on Rice’s disapproval of the casting of Cruise as the archetypal vampire Lestat, but she later told Billboard, “I thought” [Cruise] did a great job. As soon as I’ve watched the film on video at my home [before its release], I called the great producer David Geffen at home in California and told him that I love the movie, that I love what Tom has achieved, love everything. All of my early fears were meaningless in the face of Tom’s passionate portrayal. “

In addition to Pitt and Cruise, the film shows Kirsten Dunst as Claudia, the child vampire; Antonio Banderas as Armand, a 400 year old vampire; Thandie Newton as Yvette, a slave; and Christian Slater as a journalist interviewing Louis. (River Phoenix was originally cast in the role, but died before filming; Slater donated his salary to a charity in honor of Phoenix.)

That same year, Rice’s 1985 novel Exit to Eden became a sexual fantasy comedy starring Dana Delany as the seductress and Dan Aykroyd and Rosie O’Donnell as the undercover cops.

Queen of the Damned, the third novel in the Vampire Chronicles series, also received film treatment with a 2002 film starring Aaliyah in her last role before she died in a plane crash in August 2001. The singer and actress portrayed Akasha, the 6,000-year-old mother of all vampires, with Stuart Townsend as Lestat, who becomes a rock star in the modern plot. The film grossed $ 45.5 million worldwide.

In 1978 the Rices had a second child, Christopher, who eventually followed in his mother’s footsteps as the author of supernatural thrillers and erotic romance novels. Rice renounced drinking when her son was born.

After her first book, Rice wrote two historical novels – The Feast of All Saints from 1979 and Cry to Heaven from 1982 – which, while popular, were not up to interviews. Then she wrote the first three of her erotic novels (a feminist and a strong opponent of censorship, she told Playboy, “I’m fascinated by sadomasochism”) before returning to her original success with 1985’s The Vampire Lestat.

Stan retired as chairman of the creative writing department at San Francisco State, and in 1988 the family moved to New Orleans to buy a mansion in the Garden District that served as the setting for The Witching Hour. The couple bought and renovated numerous properties in the city, including St. Elizabeth’s Orphanage and Rice’s childhood home.

While Vampire Chronicles paved the way for later popular vampire literature, Rice despised Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, saying, “Lestat and Louie feel sorry for vampires who twinkle in the sun. You wouldn’t harm immortals who choose to go to high school in a small town over and over again – any more than the physically handicapped or the mentally handicapped. ”Amid the backlash, she later clarified that the statement was a joke.

Rice fell into a diabetic coma in 1998, one of several health setbacks she experienced in the late 1990s and 2000s. After that, she lost about 100 pounds and had gastric bypass surgery.

Rice’s husband died in 2002 of complications from a brain tumor. In the following years she sold her properties in New Orleans and moved to California.

She publicly announced her return to Roman Catholicism in her youth and wrote religious novels including “Christ Our Lord: Out of Egypt” from 2005. It was filmed as The Young Messiah (2016), which at the box office only $ 7 million -Dollars.

At the time of the film’s release, she wrote in THR: “My deep devotion to Jesus led me to seek to contribute to the responsible tradition of fiction regarding Him. I admired Lloyd Douglas’s The Robe and Lew Wallace’s Ben Hur, but I wanted to do something completely original. “

In 2010, Rice announced that she was leaving all organized religions, citing disagreements with church and social doctrine. She returned to writing about the supernatural, particularly The Wolf Gift from 2012 and The Wolves of Midwinter from 2013, the protagonist of which Reuben becomes a werewolf.

Rice is interred in a private ceremony in the family’s mausoleum in Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans. A public celebration of life will be held in New Orleans next year.

Her son is one of the survivors.