Born: October 4th, 1941
Died: December 11th, 2021
Anne Rice, who has died aged 80 after a stroke, was one of the foremost writers of supernatural fiction, and the author of more than 30 novels. The best known of them was her debut, Interview With the Vampire, published in 1976, and adapted in 1994 into a film starring Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Kirsten Dunst.
Her work became synonymous with deep, romantic portrayals of vampires, witches and revenant mummies and she was one of the first authors to turn the trope of supernatural creatures as monsters to be vanquished on its head, and put them in the role of protagonist, paving the way for later writers such as Stephenie Meyer and her Twilight saga.
Interview With the Vampire introduced Rice’s most enduring character, Lestat de Lioncourt, an 18th-century French nobleman whose story formed the basis of what would become known as The Vampire Chronicles, a series of 13 books, with the most recent, Blood Communion, published in 2018.
To borrow the title of Rice’s third Lestat book (which was also filmed, with Aaliyah in the title role), the writer was indeed the Queen of the Damned, not necessarily turning into heroes the characters who had previously been the villains of horror fiction, but rather giving them a voice, and presenting their stories from the viewpoint of a different morality.
She plumbed the depths of her own grief and terrors to write, saying in a Rolling Stone interview in 1995 that, “I think all my writing has been part of a battle with my fears. When I write I explore my worst fears, and then take my protagonist right into awful situations that I myself am terrified by. And I think that the act of putting all that fear and terror and confusion into an orderly, plotted story has been very therapeutic for me. It definitely helps me to continue through life.”
Rice said that fantasy writing allowed her to talk about her own life, whereas writing a “realistic novel” would be too raw. She said: “You can put the most horrible things into a frame, 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.”
She wrote like a time traveller, layering especially the Lestat novels with astonishingly evocative period detail. And she did not confine herself to vampires. The Lives of the Mayfair Witches series, beginning with The Witching Hour (1990), set in Rice’s native New Orleans, concerned itself with a trio of occult practitioners and the demon that bedevils them. The two books of the Wolf Gift series are about lycanthropy, while The Mummy (1989) revitalises the classic horror movie staple. A second mummy novel, Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra (2017), was written by Rice with her son, Christopher, and a third – what will be Rice’s last book – is scheduled for 2022.
Irish Catholic heritage
Born in New Orleans, Rice was …….