|"Interview With the Vampire"|
Before “Twilight,” before “Trueblood,” before “Underworld, “and after “Dark Shadows” we had another very popular collection of vampire stories: "The Vampire Chronicles” by Anne Rice. I went through my Anne Rice obsession in the early to mid nineties. Once again, I’m addressing the work of Anne Rice, not the person Anne Rice; I believe in drawing this line and make no exception here.
How did I find out about Anne Rice? This will sound stupid, but it’s also called “word of mouth” in a women’s bathroom. A girl classmate of mine complained of not having time to read “The Vampire Chronicles.” Hmm…that sounded interesting. As a newlywed, my husband had already read them but passed the books on to his friends before we met, so I picked up the set. Later, in a interview for an academic position, I was asked “What’s your favorite book?” I said, “Dune, I guess.” (The short-list, anyway). He asked, “What are you reading now?” I said “Anne Rice.” I was offered the job.
I loved these books. For everyone? No. Action-packed? No. Sympathetic characters? No. Setting? New Orleans, and that’s a home run for me, since I lived in the area in the mid-80’s and howled homesickness almost daily after moving. I don’t consider these (or any of Rice’s book’s I’ve read, not read them all) for children, but they are fascinating. In “The Vampire Chronicles” what’s interesting besides the setting is the topic: 1) Vampires. Humans play no major role other than a food source. 2) Adding a child vampire was innovative at the time because imagine a young child who does not realize the consequences of evil and realizes she will never grow up. (I’ve heard Claudia grew from a tragic inspiration, again, will leave that with the author) 3) The history is thoroughly researched, and from a reader-non-historian viewpoint, quite impressive. She also excels at first-person POV.
So I ate those books in short order to move on to the series of the “Mayfair Witches.” These more erotic, more-human involved books take the reader into a different level of New Orleans and its history going back to the Caribbean, France, and Scotland. Like in most other Anne Rice books I’ve read when the bad guys go down, they go down in a simplistic, short, final way, after all the wonderful history he/she has seen and all the terrible things done for survival, none of it counts in the end. The jerks die in the way they lived and with the same dignity they gave their victims. (I haven’t read all of her books, so there may be exceptions).
In “The Witching Hour” Rice goes to great depth into the description of the Mayfair house in the Garden District in New Orleans. On one of my trips there with my husband, we found out about an “Anne Rice Tour.” There was no question of price, we were going, so what that it was 2pm in a cloudless sky in August? Everyone knows how hot New Orleans is. Well apparently not; as I approached the house on First street (which had a huge acrylic dog on the upper veranda, I loved it), I touched the gate, eyes wide-eyed with delight to finally see this house, and my name was called in the distance. Another tourist was from Europe, dressed in heavy black clothes with a black velvet outer corset passed out from heat exhaustion. My husband caught her from falling, I saw to her, and someone came out of Anne Rice’s house with a bottle of water. And it wasn’t a vampire; he didn’t sparkle or burn. I’m glad the young lady was all right, and we all enjoyed the tour.
I’m glad to hear Ms. Rice is writing again. When I need inspiration to write first-person POV, one of her books is an arm reach away.