Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Anne Rice - the Creator of the Vampire Chronicles

Anne Rice was born and raised in New Orleans, and uses the city in many of her novels. Her mother died when she was young, and her first child died at the age of five from leukemia in 1972. She has another child with her husband Stan, of 34 years. Her husband Stan was poet and painter and died in 2002. Some of his work can be found in Queen of the Damned. Anne has a Master of Arts in creative writing from San Francisco State University. Interview with the Vampire was her first novel, published in 1976.

In an interview with Larry King after the release of Memnoch the Devil, Rice explained her fascination with vampires. She said that the vampires were a vehicle for her to explore her own views on life, good, evil, and religion. The vampires are a natural metaphor for people because of their affluence, powers, and greed. Lestat, the main vampire in the chronicles, is described as Rice's bad-self, questioning the boundaries of good and evil, and helping her to overcome her anxiety. When she first began the series she compared herself to Louis, a weak and overly sensitive vampire, but as time passed and the series grew she saw some changes in her own feelings and came to relate with the character of Lestat.

Lestat . . . it's hard to describe Lestat. Lestat, in a way, is my whole life, because even when I'm not writing about Lestat, I'm looking at the world through Lestat's eyes, and it's Lestat who has made me a world traveler. Lestat who's transported me out of myself, and my preoccupation with my limitations, both physical and spiritual. Lestat is more than just a created character to me. He is a symbol of some kind of freedom and dominance, and yet I never kid myself about his evil. He represents the ruthless side in us, but he's part of my thoughts night and day. And, part of my conversation night and day, I suppose. Almost everything I see, I ask myself "What would Lestat think of this . . . how would Lestat react to this," so I would say that he is the other half of me, but he is the male ruthless half of me that, thank God, does not exist, except in fiction.

Anne Rice's vampires have created a cult following. The wide variety of web sites and information available about these characters is a good indication of their popularity. People are looking for something to follow, someone to admire, and many have associated these feelings with the vampire Lestat. He offers a way for people to explore deep questions and to live on the edge of life, without actually taking the risk themselves. Lestat experiences many things that mortals have experienced and he continues to live on. It gives us all hope that we will one day reach a place of contented bliss, even though Lestat never reaches it himself. Many people are fascinated with the idea of immortality. Often people say they would like to live forever, but it is also comforting to know that it will never happen. I think this is also a way of exploring our own beliefs about death and the afterlife.

Rice's style is appealing because it is easy to read and very descriptive. The images appear in your mind as you read. The simplicity combined with the sometimes complex emotions creates a book for the masses that is easily adapted into a cult following. Rice offers answers to reader's questions at one of her web sites. These give some insight into her own views on why the books have gained so much popularity.

"Why do you think that your fans are so attracted to the concept of tormented immortality?"
-- Frank Joseph D. from California

Rice answered:

"Well, I think we all want to be immortal. We all want to be immortal, yet we're all relieved that there is the possibility of death...that suffering would not be eternal. We can conceive of the eternal, but we really don't have to put up with it, and it's an idea...an idea planted in our minds with consciousness, and we don't know what to make of it all. We don't know what to make of the fact that we can conceive of being immortal, and yet we're not immortal."

"The thing that I find more often than not, is that there is a part of almost all those characters in us, either at previous stages of our lives, or right now, and that would be to me the explanation as to why so many people, from so many different backgrounds, have taken THE VAMPIRE CHRONICLES, and given these vampires a special place in their hearts."
-- Luke C. from Australia

Rice answered:

"Well, I really treasure your comment. I think that if any literature or any story telling is going to have value, what you say has to be true the characters have to have hearts of human beings in them, they have to have deeply human traits. The author has to be telling everything that he or she knows about human beings, and so there must be levels and levels of truth, and I hope my books live up to that."

"Why does everyone connect so much with Lestat? Why do I catch myself still thinking about him, over a year after I read the books?"
-- Beary L. from Ontario

Rice answered:
"I wish I knew. I know I, myself, identify completely with Lestat. I can say Lestat is my other self, he's my male self. He and I travel together. He does the things I wish I could do, but can't. I love the fact that people identify with him. I worked very hard, and at the same time, it was a great joy to get a very intimate voice in the Lestat books. Lestat really sounds like he's sitting at the table, talking to you, because that's the way I feel about him when I'm writing--that he's right there, telling me the story, leaning over my shoulder, telling me to get it right, pointing out things I should change, breathing down my neck, doing everything but biting me! Which he wouldn't dare!"
source: http://www.wsu.edu/~delahoyd/rice.bio.html