Anne Rice is beloved the world over for her richly woven depiction of the human condition in literature. Her vibrant and picturesque gift for sculpting the written word has cultivated any topic she has chosen to explore into ambrosia readily devoured by readers of all ages.
Anne grew up in New Orleans. After the passing of her husband, Stan Rice, she left the city of her birth to be near her son, Christopher, a successful novelist and talk radio host who resides in California.
Anne has penned more than 30 novels. Her genres range from erotica to vampires, from werewolves to biblical history. Movies based on her Vampire Lestat series, Interview with the Vampire and Queen of the Damned, caused millions more to recognize her talents. Her latest novel, Prince Lestat, was published in October 2014. Anne has become a Facebook icon, with more than a million followers whom she lovingly refers to as her "People of the Page." She is true author royalty.
Anne enjoys giving of herself to writers who reach out to her. Authors Bobby Crutchfield, Deborah Burst and Greg Wilkey, to name just a few, were taken under Anne's wing.
From the comfort of her California home, Anne was gracious enough to answer some questions for Where Y'at Magazine.
WYAT: When you write about New Orleans, do you embellish on childhood memories? Does the city feel as tangible to you as one of your most beloved characters?
Anne Rice: Yes, without question. New Orleans is a character in the novels I write that are set there, and New Orleans has influenced my entire body of work.
WYAT: What uniquely New Orleanian traditions do you miss most?
AR: What I miss most is the sheer happiness of the people, their capacity to enjoy life to the fullest. New Orleans is almost a state of mind. Its traditions, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick's Day celebrations, St. Joseph's Day altars, Jazz Fest...all reflect the city's embrace of life, and its tolerance and love of life.
WYAT: Christopher is going to be asking you some questions from fans this year during the meet and greet for Undead Con on Thursday, October 29. He'll be at your side during the Gathering of the Ancients Ball. What most moves your heart when you see how your son has grown to become such a fine author in his own right?
AR: Christopher is a dream child. He is everything I ever hoped for in a son. He is the sunshine of my life. No doubt about it. That he became a writer…well, what can I say? I totally love it.
WYAT: Can you share a few insights on the Christ the Lord movie, due for release at Easter 2016?
AR: I've seen the film. It's magnificent. The little boy playing Jesus is sublime. The film is beautifully written and directed. And it will be released on March 11, 2016. It's faithful to the book, and is faithful to the Bible, and is historically accurate. I couldn't have wished for more. This has been a marvelous experience for me. Cyrus Nowrasteh is the director. He wrote the script with his wife, Betsy Nowrasteh. I love them both.
WYAT: During a 2012 interview, you made a poignant revelation about your perception of the vampire to The Christian Post: "The vampire is a profound metaphor for the outcast, the lonely one, the predator, in all of us…When we sit down to a rich dinner table in America while people are starving all over the world, we are vampires in a sense, accepting our power and our 'edge' over so many millions who have little or nothing. If I return to the metaphor of the vampire, I want to mine that metaphor for its deepest religious and moral meanings." Has Lestat yet fulfilled your quest to "mine that metaphor"?
AR: I'm still mining the metaphor. I always will be mining it. I am deep into a new Lestat novel now. I think all of my writing is about outcasts; all of it. But the vampires are maybe these quintessential metaphoric outcasts.
WYAT: What news can you give fans on the progress of the Cry to Heaven musical based on your book by the same title?
AR: All I've heard is that things are going well. I did go to Seattle to see an early run-through of the first Act. It was marvelous. What makes it such a joy is the divine music of Matthew Wilder.
WYAT: Now, on erotica, with the release of your Beauty's Kingdom four decades after the other books in the series—The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty's Punishment and Beauty's Release—how do you believe the reading world has changed its concept of physical love in literature?
AR: Women are out of the closet now as to their tastes in erotica. They read it. They write it. They embrace it. Consequently, the sales of the old Beauty series have increased, and there is a new creative interest in the potential of erotica. It was a pleasure to revisit the series, but I don't think I'll be doing it again. I've pretty much contributed what I have to give.
WYAT: About a year ago, you posted the poem "The Red Wheelbarrow" by William Carlos Williams to Facebook. Taking your beloved husband Stan's poetry to heart, what "Riceian" verse of your own would you use to describe New Orleans?
AR: I grew up nourished by the beauty of New Orleans. How many times a day do I think of and see those old images? The brick wall across from my window when I was a child, with the purple wisteria blossoms clinging to the soft, old red bricks, the huge pecan tree above it swaying or dancing in the afternoon breeze, the spectacle of clouds moving fast through the blue sky like ships at sea, the divine sight of soft silver summer rain striking the asphalt of the streets, the fragrance of the rain and the dust rising, the smell of the rain indoors...
Everywhere I went as a child, I saw great black-barked oak trees, and magnificent houses with Greek columns and dark green window shutters, gardens exploding with pink azaleas in the spring, or purple lantana pushing through the iron fences. I was born and grew up in a great garden called New Orleans. It shaped my sensibilities on all levels. Where else is the evening sky such a perfect lavender color? Where else do streets everywhere pass under canopies of embracing tree branches? Where else are the cemeteries filled with small architectural wonders? Where else is the air filled with the scent of jasmine in the evenings? Where else is so much beauty available to so many every day of their lives? God bless New Orleans.