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anne rice:

Queen Anne:
Anne Rice, author of
Interview with a Vampire and Lasher, talks about Tom Cruise, religion, genetics, sex and violins





The Edmonton Sun
10 October 1993



She’s written a series of vampire novels that plunge her readers into a darkly sensual world. She’s written what she freely calls “hard-porn” novels. In The Witching Hour and the just-released Lasher, she follows a line of incestuous witches who are haunted by a centuries-old spirit.

It all may sound like unlikely material for best-selling novels, but she has over 150 million books in print as well as a three-book, $17 million contract with her current publisher, Knopf.

Her name is Anne Rice, and her recent Edmonton appearance at Greenwoods Books drew upwards of 500 fans. The store and the publicists were pleased, but so too was Rice, whose humble background can be traced to “an intensely old-fashioned, Irish-Catholic” family in New Orleans.

Wanted to play violin

“We went to mass every day,” Rice recalls during an interview at the Hotel MacDonald, in front of a magnificent fireplace she wishes were hers. “We had the Latin mass then. A couple of aunts of mine were nuns. I had a cousin who was a priest, a Jesuit.”

Rice says she was interested in vampires, witches and ghosts but that she was by no means obsessed with the supernatural.

“I had many obsessions. I wanted to play the violin. I was passionate about that, read every book in the library on violins.”

On a whim, Rice wrote a story told from a vampire’s point of view in the mid-1970s. That story turned into the best-selling Interview with a Vampire. Three more vampire novels followed: The Vampire Lestat, Queen of the Damned and The Tale of the Body Thief.

“I had no idea there would be four vampire novels,” says Rice. “I never thought of myself as one who would be writing series of books. I thought of series as things like Edgar Rice Burroughs and Tarzan. I realize that there’s a lot more to it than that.”

Although Hollywood producers have long wanted to capture Rice’s vampires on film, it wasn’t until this summer when David Geffen and director Neil Jordan (The Company of Wolves, The Crying Game), that the project finally got under way.

Tom Cruise was chosen to star as Lestat, the “Brat Prince” of vampires. Brad Pitt was cast as Louis, Lestat’s vampire friend and narrator of the story. Rice’s opposition to Cruise as Lestat has been widely publicized. She says the studio still has not convinced her he’s right for the role, but she has softened up on Brad Pitt.

“(Pitt) would not have been my first choice because he looks so distinctly boyish in a Norman Rockwell way, but he’s wonderful,” Rice says. “There’s a charisma and excitement and a mystery in his eyes. I think he’s going to steal the picture. Well, I wouldn’t say steal, he’s the star. Louis is the starring role in Interview with a Vampire.”

Rice’s books appeal to teenagers, academics and everyone in between. One of the reasons is her books are both brainy and sexy.

In the witch books, Rice explores the role of genetics in determining — or not determining — our personalities. She explains the spirit entity Lasher using cell biology, and traces the genetic heritage of the Mayfairs, an inbred family of witches.

“We’re finding out more and more in studies, but it’s still a wonderfully delicious mystery as to what’s determined and what’s inherited and so forth,” Rice says. “I think there’s no accounting for people’s reaction to their genetic heritage.”

This does not mean Rice thinks we aren’t responsible for our actions.

“I think we have to operate as if we have free will. That’s the only honorable, creative, moral way to go through life.”

Sex is a featured element in all of Rice’s work. She says she’s proud of the explicit novels she wrote under the names Anne Rampling and A. N. Rocquelaure. One of those books, Exit to Eden, is being made into a movie by director Garry Marshall.

“I wrote what I couldn’t find in the bookstores. I wrote the erotica I believed in,” Rice explains. “I had read a lot of pulp pornography and I was appalled at the guises that the sensuous scenes were slipped under. (My books) were playing with sexual fantasies in a safe context.”

Long time Anne Rice fans will notice that the vampire books and the witch books share more than philosophical themes and sexy scenes. Characters and storylines cross over. Look for a meeting of Lestat and the Mayfair witches.

“I think of (William) Faulkner and that huge world he had, that county, and the way they would live and how they would crop up in his stories and novels, and I like to work with a huge world like that.”

That huge world has yielded an impressive output for Rice, who has published sometimes gigantic books (the hardcover edition of The Witching Hour was 961 pages long) at a rate of one a year.

Could it be the Queen of Immortality senses her own mortality?

“I want to do a book a year,” says the 52-year-old writer. “That’s the schedule I put on myself. I want these years to count very, very much. When a boxer’s in good shape, he should box. When he reaches a certain age, he’s not going to be able to do it, and there will definitely come an age when things will be harder for me to do. I want to write when my head’s teeming, and the fingers are moving. So I speed up the schedule, even a little uncomfortably for my publisher at times.”

Lasher sequel

Rice has already completed a sequel to Lasher, called Taltos. She’s planning a sequel to her 1989 novel The Mummy and she wants to write a book on the Talamasca, the secretive, fictional organization that studies Lestat and the Mayfair witches.

“I’m besieged by images and ideas,” Rice says. “I’m actually frustrated. I’m backed up. I’m behind in the things I envision and want to do. It hasn’t always been that way. Sometimes things have come more slowly. There was more fear and insecurity on my part about being able to execute the vision I saw, but now, I feel like a sports figure. It’s extremely easy to perform while I have the capability.”

External Link:
Random House Canada Ltd.



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