Anne Rice: vampire queen of literature

Her novel and film adaptation brought about a renaissance in vampire fiction. Here are seven more authors we will miss in 2018 Last week, the world learned with deep sadness of the death of…

Anne Rice: vampire queen of literature

Her novel and film adaptation brought about a renaissance in vampire fiction. Here are seven more authors we will miss in 2018

Last week, the world learned with deep sadness of the death of Anne Rice, author of Interview with the Vampire, who died of congestive heart failure at the age of 80. A celebrated writer of fantasy and horror and one of the earliest practitioners of the supernatural genre, Rice, though often praised for her “beautiful sense of human behaviour”, wrote most famously of vampires in her bestselling 1979 novel, and its 1991 film adaptation.

Interview with the Vampire review – Anne Rice sullies a treat Read more

One of her other novels, City of the Living Dead, was a gruesome story of several persons who were bitten by the same vampire – a storyline also observed in 2004’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Watch Nina Voskuil play Anne Rice’s younger self in the 1995 animated version of Interview with the Vampire.

She made the story of her own beleaguered ancestors a household word and the horror and fun of that tale (a spirit called Aleister Crowley known as “the Creeper” and possessing both an intellect and prowess and a taste for human flesh) was always informed by her Roman Catholic upbringing.

As well as the aforementioned film and other movie spin-offs, RD’s books also provided a healthy supply of films that inspired dozens of adaptations of a different variety, from TV series to comic books to toys to an old-fashioned children’s paperback entitled A Passion for Blood. The story line of Interview with the Vampire and the others inspired a renaissance in vampire literature, and her portraiture of humans and the “Tunnel people” was such a durable image that with hindsight it was sometimes unhelpful to use the terms “man” and “woman” (See: on that same title page we are told she was of the combined-bloodline human/vampire nationality).

Between 1981 and 1991, Rice published 19 novels, which in total is more than anyone else has managed. Notably, six of them remain her bestsellers: Interview with the Vampire (editorially expanded into her 1994 memoir The Queen of the Damned and the 1994 movie The Vampire Lestat); Queen of the Damned; Oresteia; The Feast of Love and Mysterious Skin. Of those five, only the fourth, Queen of the Damned, and the 1994 film (adapted from her novel Roman Days) have been filmed. She also published six comic books, 10 novellas, and six poetry collections.

The Prince and the Pauper

Elsewhere, RD was always known for her political activism, and she was a strong supporter of the Democratic party, repeatedly voting in presidential elections from her base in Louisiana. She also contributed to the campaigns of both John F Kennedy and Bill Clinton, and over the years she also served as a director of Unicef, the Universal Postal Union, the Screen Actors Guild, Aspen Arts Center for Young People and more.

Notably, in 1983, the rights to Interview with the Vampire were auctioned off to talk show host Larry King – who famously dismissed all vampire fiction as “vampire fictions”, suggesting the books took place entirely within the films of the 1950s TV series Twilight Zone.

Shortly afterwards, in 1985, RL announced that she would publish two more vampire novels, The Night-Burner (1988) and Queen of the Damned (1989). Both continued her original theme of magic and urban decay, but they took dramatic new turns, becoming powerful cultural touchstones as social commentary in the 1990s and 2000s.

A more recent influence is the Vampire Chronicles of Anne Rice: a thrilling, frightening and unforgettable new take on vampire folklore that you really should read, in addition to everyone else’s classic.

Following her death, contributing writer Sarah Rodman noted that her book had influenced “the work of at least 60 authors. I’m guessing that number will double in the months to come as new spin-offs appear.” Indeed, as publicity for the forthcoming Vampire Chronicles film begins to kick in, this is a year we won’t soon forget.

Thanks to Sarah Rodman and Ellen Podinsky for passing on their condolences to our readers.

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