ANNE RICE 1941-2021
Farewell to the Queen of the Damned
“For me, vampires were the perfect voice to talk through,” said Anne Rice, who explored the souls of the undead in over 30 best-selling novels. “I could talk about every aspect of being an outsider in their voice… I was never interested in writing a vampire story from the point of view of the victim at all.”
Raised in New Orleans – the city’s air of enchanted decay was a crucial element in many of her stories – Rice made her breakthrough with 1976’s Interview With The Vampire. Revenant nobleman Lestat de Lioncourt had her husband Stan’s “long blond hair and blue eyes and feline grace that inspired Lestat’s charm and magnetism and mesmerising movement.” But the book’s themes of loss and mortality were shaped by the death of their daughter, Michele, in 1972.
Rice popularised the vampire as a tragic, gothically romantic figure, acknowledging a debt to such movies as Dracula’s Daughter (1936). This empathic take on the monstrous extended to other horror icons: 1989’s
The Mummy, Or Ramses The Damned introduced Rice’s immortal pharoah, while the Wolf Gift Chronicles told tales of lycanthropy. 1990’s The Witching Hour launched the Mayfair Witches series, again with a heady New Orleans backdrop.
The doomed Lestat remained Rice’s defining creation, brought to the screen by Tom Cruise in 1994’s adaptation of Interview With The Vampire. Originally believing her debut novel would be, at best, an underground hit, she ultimately wrote 12 more books in the Vampire Chronicles.
“You can put the most horrible things into a frame,” said Rice of her fiction, “and you can go into that frame safely and talk about those things. You can go into the world of Louis and Lestat and Claudia, and be able to talk about grief or loss or survival, and then come back safely.” NS