Becca Anderson, author of The Book of Awesome Women Writers, has written a new blog post on the life and career of writer Anne Rice.
What would make a good Irish Catholic girl write about vampires, modeling her main bloodsucker, Lestat, on a male version of herself, and in her spare time write some of the steamiest sadomasochistic erotica on the market? It might have started as a reaction to being pegged with the name Howard Allen Frances O’Brien by her loving parents, but then again, this was not all that unusual
for someone growing up in New Orleans. Before she was ever humiliated on the playground, Anne Rice dumped the ‘Howard Allen,’ and after a few years
of rapid name change experimentation, finally settled on just plain Anne. But since then she’s done a fine job of proving there is nothing plain or ordinary about Anne Rice—and there’s nothing ordinary about how rabid her fans are, either.
Born in 1941, Anne had the good fortune of being brought up in one of the most uniquely interesting cities in the world, haunted by its charm and mystery. In 1956, when she was just a teenager, her mother died of alcohol abuse. After a brief stay in Texas, where her father had relocated, she met poet Stan Rice, whom she married in 1961. From 1964 through 1988, she lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, alternately writing, working odd jobs, soaking up the West Coast’s version of quirk and old-world charm, and going to school.
In 1972, her daughter Michele (affectionately called “Mouse”) died of leukemia. During the seven years that followed, Anne worked on Interview with the Vampire—a novel featuring child vampire Claudia, a character based onher deceased daughter. After repeated rejection, the novel was finally published in the mid-1970s to wild acclaim. The mix of horror, blood, sexual tension, and romantic settings proved a potent, wealth-producing combination, and
the prolific Anne has continued to crank out several bestselling series of books dealing with vampires, witches, demons, mummies, and ghosts. Her books have given her the opportunity to revisit her beloved characters as well as her hometown again and again. In addition, under the pen names Anne Rampling and A.N. Roquelaure, she has also dabbled in erotica, penning such works as Exit to Eden (which found its way to the silver screen in 1994 and was well received) and The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty.
Her penchant for having a good time has included a season of book-signings where she wore wedding dresses to all of her appearances, including a special affair in New Orleans where she arrived via coffin in an Old Quarter-style jazz funeral procession. But more often than not these shenanigans have resulted
in the media’s glossing over the deeper, more penetrating and powerful themes found in her work. This distresses her, because as she once pointed out in her fan club newsletter, she uses her “otherworldly characters to delve more deeply into the heart of guilt, love, alienation, bisexuality, loss of grace, [and] terror in a meaningless universe.”
Her fame is extraordinary. She created quite a stir a few years ago when she criticized the casting of Tom Cruise as Lestat in the movie version of Interview with the Vampire (though she later recanted). Recently, she bought the former St. Elizabeth’s Orphanage, a massive old structure that takes up an entire square block in New Orleans, and has brought it back to life in a new incarnation as one part home, one part museum, and one part funhouse.
In 1995, she hosted the annual coven party started by her legion of fans from the Vampire Lestat Fan Club at her “orphanage.” With a little luck, inspired by our fascination with the unknown and propelled by a multitude of fans worldwide, Anne Rice will continue to turn out her luminous, demon-filled view of the world for years to come.
Medieval Mystics, Pioneering Poets, Fierce Feminists and First Ladies of Literature (Feminist Book, Gift for Women, Gift for Writers)
This one-of-a-kind tome takes a tour with Sylvia Beach and other booksellers as well as librarians, editors, writers, bibliophiles, and celebrated book clubs. Join women’s studies scholar Anders as she takes you on a ribald ride through the pages of history. Chapter titles include “Prolific Pens” (including Joyce Carol Oates, author of over 100 books), “Mystics, Memoirists and Madwomen”, “Salons and Neosalons”, “Ink in Their Veins” (literary dynasties), and the titillating “Banned, Blacklisted, and Arrested.”