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Bookish Birthdays: Anne Rice

4th Oct 2011

Anne_Rice

Vampires were evil and nothing more- sexy evil perhaps, but they had no character, no personality and no real history. The vampire was just a Bram Stoker hangover and an excuse for some gratuitous cleavage. Then, in 1976, Interview with the Vampire came out and redefined a genre.

Born October 4th 1941, Rice received a strongly religious upbringing from her parents and her Irish Catholic school, and attended a couple of universities before dropping out and moving to San Francisco.

At twenty, she married hometown boyfriend Stan Rice and commenced various studies at San Francisco State University, obtaining a B.A. in Political Science in 1964 and an M.A. in Creative Writing in 1972. In 1966 she gave birth to a daughter, Michelle, who died of leukaemia in 1972, two years after Rice had a dream that her daughter was ill from a blood born disease.

Rice commenced writing Interview… as a way of dealing with her grief and many see the little vampire girl Claudia as an echo of Rice’s lost daughter. Unlike the mute, two-dimensional vampires of horror films past, Rice’s vampires had emotional depth and personal conflicts.

Central to the book is the personality clash between the vampires Louis and Lestat, and Louis’ turmoil over what it is to be beautiful and damned. The homoerotic subtext of the vampires (worked to great effect in 1994’s film adaptation starring Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and tiny creepy Kirsten Dunst) is part of the reason for the books’ enduring appeal, and changed the way vampires are used to represent sexuality today – breaking the taboos that we mortals step over with caution.

Following a period of obsessive compulsive disorder, the book was published in 1976 and in 1978 Rice gave birth to a son, Christopher, who is now a successful writer.
After moving to New Orleans and suffering several health problems, Rice returned to the Catholic church in 1998, in spite of ideological differences, and has written several books on Christianity and the life of Christ. In July of this year, Rice publicly renounced organised religion.

Rice has written prolifically ever since the best-selling publication of Interview with the Vampire. The Vampire Chronicles now number ten and Rice has also written a series of books about witches, with crossovers between the two.

Still want more? She has written erotic novels under the names A.N. Roquelaure and Anne Rampling, so be sure to look out for those too.

Lucinda Chell