I think everyone who got exposed to Anne Rice’s writing at a formative age was changed by it. When I was growing up in the early nineties and the movie Interview with the Vampire came out, it was incredible. It was the same year that The Crow came out, and let’s just say the goth world was never the same. Everyone in the grunge, goth, and horror circles came together to gush over the film. Despite a very rocky history, it’s considered a classic today. It also served as my introduction to the Vampire Chronicles series.
Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a fan of all of her work, but as I read book after book of her luscious prose with gorgeous vampires questioning the religious and philosophical meaning of life, I was in awe. Her writing is simply brilliant. I believe it would be difficult to find a vampire author today who hasn’t been impacted by her work.
Louis’ philosophy and struggles in Interview with the Vampire, Lestat’s love story to glam rock in The Vampire Lestat, Armand’s remorse and detachment in The Vampire Armand, and the incredible, colorful world she created throughout it all blew me away. Even though later stories had some ridiculous moments (an unexplained talking scarecrow asks “What’s the meaning of life?” in Pandora), there was always something poignant and questioning in her novels. Her characters always searched for something bigger than themselves, something to give them purpose–even if it did make them more gullible for manipulators along thew way.
Through her work I discovered my love of writing, something I never seriously considered until then. I also found an incredible group of online friends who I joined in a trip to New Orleans back in the early 2000s. It was a testament to our love of her books that we dressed up and walked down Bourbon Street on Halloween and went on vampire tours. We’re still friends today, still connected by her books.
Her writing spoke to people, mostly those who didn’t have a voice. During the AIDS epidemic, Anne’s books brought a celebration of love and acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community. Why should vampires care about gender norms? French aristocrat Gabrielle has an entire scene in The Vampire Lestat where she embarrasses her son Lestat by cutting off all her hair and dressing in men’s trousers as soon as she is turned into a vampire. Heck, Lestat spends most of Interview with the Vampire pining over Louis, and in The Vampire Lestat he is openly sharing a flat with his good actor friend Nicholas. It was a stark contrast to the landscape of the 80s and 90s, where the government turned its back on the LGBT community.
Her books brought a revitalization to the gothic culture. The vampire goth was born. She fed into the culture by hosting annual Halloween Vampire Balls each October and dressing in gorgeous and elaborate mourning dresses.
She made such an impact on New Orleans that you can’t mention the culture of the city now without mentioning Anne Rice. From vampire tours to vampire bars, t-shirts with her face on them, and even mannequins of Louis hidden in shop corners. I’ll be the first to admit she made some ridiculous and outrageous decisions sometimes, her impact, talent, and imagination can’t be understated.
Rest well, Anne. Thank you for sharing your incredible world with us, and for creating so many timeless, beloved characters.