Wearing a demure white lace dress, her gray hair smoothly bobbed, Anne Rice is nothing like the creatures she writes about: vampires who hide in filthy basements, werewolves who tear into flesh and blood, or demons who stop at nothing to satisfy their sociopathic sexuality. America’s favorite supernatural storyteller has spent the last 40 years scaring us, and it’s been profitable.
Rice turned a short story about a vampire named Lestat into a novel, and that one novel into a dozen titles in The Vampire Chronicles series. In between, she’s written about witches (The Witching Hour) Egyptian horrors (The Mummy), erotic S&M (Exit to Eden) and the pre-Civil War free blacks of New Orleans (Feast of All Saints). Lately, she’s bringing werewolves to life. The Wolves of Midwinter is due Oct. 15, the second in her Wolf Gift Chronicles.
“I’m just getting started,” she said recently at Thrillerfest VIII in New York City, on stage for an interview conducted by her son, Christopher Rice, host of the Internet talk show, The Dinner Party with Christopher Rice & Eric Shaw Quinn.
In the interview, Anne Rice said the inspiration for her heroes were the monsters first seen in old black and white movies, tormented creatures who loved life but knew they had to destroy it to survive. “I knew there was a tragic potential to those figures,” said Rice, noting the direct link between Dracula and Frankenstein to the bad men of today’s television, the Tony Sopranos and the Walter Whites.
Also revealed in the interview:
Did she ever meet a vampire? “I’ve never met a real vampire. But I’ve been frightened by people who pretend to be vampires.”
How her werewolf characters differ from her vampires: Her werewolves exist in a “brand new cosmology” where they “smell and hunt evil.” Unlike her vampires who are characterized by sadness, grief, darkness and despair, her werewolves’ transformation from man to wolf is “delicious and sensual.”
How Anne Rice feels as she writes fantasy: “It feels completely real to me.”
When she moved back to New Orleans, where she grew up on the Gothic side of the South hearing ghost stories: “My vocabulary doubled. I was suddenly able to write more, and longer.”
Where she gets ideas: “I get ideas from a TV commercial. Or a waitress in an oyster bar.”
Her thoughts on social media: She loves Facebook. She has 750,000 fans she calls the People of the Page.
Her favorite kind of television: Neil Jordan’s The Borgias. “It made history with cinematography.”
Her favorite kind of vampire movie (besides Interview with the Vampire starring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise): “Byzantium. It’s romantic.”
Her least favorite kind of vampire movie? “Queen of the Damned. It really hurt the franchise.” (It was a dud, in spite of starring Aaliyah, who died tragically in a plane crash before the film opened.)
The secret to her success? “Storytelling.”
What Rice and her son argue about: Who gets to write about space aliens. “Stay away from aliens,” Christopher Rice told his mother. “You have everything else.”