Interview with Anne Rice

November, 2008

Anne Rice In 2004, Anne Rice shocked her fan base with an unexpected plot twist. After 20 bestsellers, the pre-Stephenie Meyer Queen of the Vampires announced that she would never again write about the supernatural characters of her popular series, the Vampire Chronicles, and that all of her future work would be dedicated to her newfound religious faith. This abrupt change stunned and even angered many readers. Some had followed Rice's work from the first creepy moment of Interview With the Vampire, when Louis begged Lestat, "Kill me." In her new memoir, Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession, Rice describes her spiritual journey and the price it exacts. She spoke with Goodreads about her continued allegiance to her previous work and what she's writing next.

Goodreads: Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession is your first nonfiction book and your first memoir. What motivated you to write autobiographically at this stage of your career?

Anne Rice: The memoir was almost a response to requests. I had received hundreds of emails asking me to tell the story of my conversion in detail. Also, I felt a strong impulse to describe the church of my childhood in the '40s and '50s, which many people today know nothing about. I wanted to present one person's journey to Christ, and I thought it was a unique journey. The memoir poured out in a spontaneous way. I had pondered these matters for a very long time.

GR: Was it difficult to transition from fiction writing to autobiography?

AR: I found it very hard to write an autobiography. I am naturally a fiction writer, and visiting memories was painful for me. In fiction I do something with those memories to exorcise the pain, but in the memoir I was trying to report, and it was difficult.

GR: You have become known for crafting complex psychology for otherworldly characters, such as vampires or witches. Why do you think you are drawn to the supernatural world for storytelling?

AR: The supernatural world has always been more real to me than the real world. I feel a great surge of energy when I acknowledge that there is a world beyond this one. In my early novels I made up stories about forces that I sensed. Now I write about faith in something in which I completely believe.

GR: You've been adamant about not repudiating your past work, despite your present shift in focus. Please share with us why characters like Lestat, Louis, or the Mayfair witches remain important to you.

AR: My old novels and characters were sincerely created and deeply felt, and also I think these novels and characters are complex and these novels mirror a pathway to Christ. I think they retain tremendous value for readers, especially young readers who may not be willing to pick up a book about Christianity. There is a moral compass in these novels, and the grief for a lost faith, and the search for redemption — these are the main themes. I remain a believer in them, though they are partial and flawed. They have some sort of power because of their sincerity and because of their depth.

GR: Your fans enjoy your significant Web presence: You maintain an active website, AnneRice.com, your own YouTube channel, and even share book and film reviews on Amazon. Is it rewarding to interact with readers in this way?

AR: I find my Web interaction very rewarding, and emails have pierced my loneliness as a writer. I am homebound now due to health, and YouTube has given me a marvelous way to interact. I treasure emails and answer as many as I can. I think we are just beginning to tap the Internet where books are concerned. Most publishers are just beginning to understand what can be done. Right now, I think we are a little ahead of the curve with our library of YouTube videos, our website, and other measures. We continue to grow and invent and move forward. All authors want to be read. All authors want to communicate. We are in an Internet revolution, and communication is central to it.

GR: After finishing the Christ the Lord series, which you've mentioned will have two more books to form a quartet, what's next?

AR: The third book in the Christ the Lord series will take me considerable time as it has to do with the ministry of Christ on the road to Jerusalem. So I have been working on another Christian series about angels on earth. It is dedicated to Christ, and I hope it will break some new ground. I am a natural if not compulsive storyteller.

GR: There is a deep historical relationship between art and religion, especially in Catholicism. In addition to dedicating your personal life to your faith, you have also specifically dedicated your artistic work as a writer. Why have you taken this extra step?

AR: I dedicated my work to Christ because this was the best way I knew to serve Him. I wanted to give myself to Him, and this seemed the best and most complete way. The Gospels tell us that if we want to be perfect, we should give up all we own and follow Christ. I didn't have the courage to do that. But I felt I could give him all my work. And so I did.

GR: Describe a typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?

AR: I write as much as possible. Best time is late morning or early afternoon. I don't write at night unless I have to. I have to write in spurts and then rest. It's the only way I can work now.

GR: What are you reading now? What are some of your favorite books and authors?

AR: I read mostly nonfiction. Right now I am reading a great deal of European history, and of course my biblical studies continue day in and day out. I read Scripture, I read commentaries, and I read books on the different time periods of my novels. I read archaeological books as well. I read very little contemporary fiction. I'm too slow at it. And I'm in my own world.

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Comments (showing 1-43 of 43) (43 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

I would have been a little more fervent on the "Why did you stop writing supernatural stories, and suddenly become a God-fearing woman who writes epic love stories of God's greatness?"

Because, as mentioned in the intro, it pissed alot of people off. And, even worse, the change comes off as disingenuous, thanks to the almost polar opposites of writing material (despite what she has forced herself to believe), and the sudden nature with which it took place... with little to no explanation.

I will always love her vampire books, and the characters within, but I will also shun her for the rest of eternity because of this.

Unless she comes back to her true calling, after realizing her mistake in pandering to the built-in Christian audience.

--Kyle


message 2: by caitlin (new)

caitlin Well, it sounds like she is in ill health, and you have to admit that it is not uncommon for ill people to renew interest in their religious faith?


message 3: by Jeanette (new)

Jeanette Shun her for the rest of eternity?? What a pompous priggish thing to say! As if she wrote those books or was put on Earth purely to pleasure you with her books! There are a million other authors out there. Start reading the Tween Twilight series - oh, but wait...I bet you already are!
Get over it folks - she became a born again. At least she didn't start two wars, expose CIA agents, line the pockets of corporate cronies and nose-dive the economy.



message 4: by Julia (new)

Julia I applaude her for her faith and her willingness and desire to change her entire life. That is what God calls us to do, and her dedication is amazing. I wish all Christians were that passionate about what they believe.


message 5: by Peter (new)

Peter Well, ill health = religious faith is a bit of a stretch. Her conversion experience happened over ten years ago. She really has a pretty amazing story... In the Author's Note to her book "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt" she details her spiritual journey, in her own words. I work for a Catholic non-profit and she gave me permission to reprint it at the above link.


message 6: by Telly (new)

Telly McGaha I always felt there was something deep and transcendtal about her work. The way she describes her supernatural stories as dealing with the core issues of faith and redemption is very true; they resonated with me in this manner when I originally read them, and so it does not seem so far fetched that she has ventured down this new path.

I wish I had her faith.


message 7: by Andy (new)

Andy "...my biblical studies continue day in and day out."

Funny thing. God and vampires are exactly the same thing: Human fable.

Folks buy this pablum in droves. Depressing.


message 8: by Frank (new)

Frank We've lost another good person to the myth! Oh noes!


message 9: by Carolina (new)

Carolina Valdez How sad to diminish another person's spiritual experience, Andy. Some day you may find yourself on a road to Damascus.
Carolina


message 10: by Jeremy (new)

Jeremy I saw tis one coming from miles away, at least she won't write anymore crappy sequells to the series that should have died a while ago. I think if she lives long enough thouh, she may nbecome a turncoat again and write a sequell to the long forgotton mummy, or even something new,but until thn goodbye, for i am still an avowed athiest, and i practice non-religion as fiecely as she ever could w/ catholicism:::::(goodbye anne, good BUY, Anne??? I hope not........................... :( :/ ;)

Jeremy D. Hyde



message 11: by Andy (new)

Andy How sad you're so quick to defend another pathetic attempt to profit from mass delusion. Seriously, wake up Caroline.


message 12: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Hebrews 12:2-3 "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

Anne Rice has a new story to tell, one written by Christ himself, and it is sad to see people discount it so quickly. I look forward to seeing how Anne Rice's writing changes with her newfound faith...and what God does with it. May she not grow weary or lose heart from those who criticize her.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm not here to defend my atheist brethren, as much as I'd like to, nor am I here to laugh at the ignorance of many of the religious...

I just want to note why I said what I did.

As I responded to the lovely and ever-so-friendly Jeanette:

How do you think the modern world would feel if Tolkien never finished the LOTR series? Or if J.K. Rowling decided to just randomly stop writing about Harry Potter before the story was over?

When you have great authors with world-changing anthologies, people tend to get upset when they aren't finished. Great authors DO have an obligation to their readers, once they reach a certain level.

Read interviews with any of the modern greats, and they'll tell you they feel this obligation quite strongly.

--Kyle

p.s. What if Anne had decided to become a born-again Satanist, instead of a Christian? I doubt you would be so quick to applaud her religious beliefs, nor her blatant pandering to a large and highly lucrative audience.

Think on that, Fox News.


message 14: by Allison (new)

Allison I've been an Anne Rice fan for many moons now and I was very disappointed to hear she'd gone back to Catholicism. But, as an ex-catholic myself (now an atheist), I can sympathize with the extent of the brainwashing that occurs. And, as she said in her interview, the church of her childhood was a world not many would understand. I'm just sad that someone who is obviously so intelligent and so willing to do the hard, in-depth research that is required to write on her level has not gleaned from that research that all religion is myth. But, she also says in her interview that she has sensed things, felt forces, etc. Obviously, she is a highly sensitive individual who needs some explanation for the intense inner world she has lived in all her life. Not to mention the fact that she lost her husband in the last couple of years. I obviously don't agree with her decision but, I've read Christ the Lord and will probably read the others because she is a master storyteller. Her words have also added so much to my own life that I find it hard to sever her or her work from my affections.
Allison


message 15: by Nick (new)

Nick I have been an avid fan of Anne Rice since Interview with a Vampire and find her conversion to Christianity refreshing. In her novels that I have read, I had always thought that she was struggling with her faith, as I had been for some time. Sometimes, the most painful things in life, like the death of a loved one, break a prideful spirit and allow people to realize that there is something greater. Anne Rice, may God bless you and allow your writings of Christ and faith to bless your readers as well.


message 16: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Allison,
I found your entry very sad for many reasons. You assume that anyone who is religious must have some emotional dependency on it and anyone who is truly intelligent must come to the conclusion that there is no God. As an ex-catholic as well, I do agree with you that catholicism does have some brain washing tendencies and that they hinder people from coming to know Jesus Christ as Lord. But Jesus has changed my life and He is the only way to know true love and true freedom. I've done the "in-depth research" and science cannot explain it all. You're probably rolling your eyes right now, thinking that I'm an idiot. But that's ok. I still pray that you might come to know Jesus Christ as Anne did. It's a beautiful and profound thing.
-Elizabeth


message 17: by Cindy (new)

Cindy I'm sad to see such harsh criticisms of Anne Rice. Who is anyone to judge her spiritual beliefs? No one on this earth truly knows all the inner workings of her heart and soul.

It's no surprise to me that Anne could go from writing about vampires to Christian works. Good writers write from their heart. If she was questioning her faith at the time of her earlier writings it makes sense that she would express herself in a world of darkness or fantasy. Now that she can the love of God in her life she would naturally want to explore and share those feelings as well.

In answer to a comment about finding faith in God at a time of illness or distress, consider what’s necessary to finding anything. You must have a sincere desire and be looking for what you are seeking. When would we most desire to know there is a higher power and purpose to life but when that life is most difficult or in the most danger of being lost? That hardly means her faith is insincere or contrived.

If you don’t believe in God, fine, but give others the freedom to make their own choices. You may ask yourself, if God doesn’t exist why does another’s faith in him threaten you so? If there is no God, it doesn’t matter what anyone says or does it will not affect your body after death and you have no soul or spirit to carry on your existence. What are you worried about? Just move on, write your own stories, or find other works to read.

--Cindy



message 18: by Karen (new)

Karen Wow. I love how this has turned into a religious debate. Let's talk about books and writing, okay people?

I never finished an Anne Rice book, although I want to. Even being a Catholic (and very happy with it, so don't bother bashing me) I don't know if I want to read her "Christ the Lord" series. Just not interested. And I loved the idea of vampires and their lives that go through centuries, but I just couldn't get into her books. Maybe I should just try again.

I can undestand the feelings of some unhappy readers. It is very irritating to have an author quit a series without finshing (or take a long long long time to write something - any George RR Martin fans out there?). They do that with good TV shows too (still missing Carnivale).

As Anne Rice is the author, she can do whatever she wants. She'll still sell, and if she isn't inspired to write about her supernatural creatures anymore, then she wouldn't produce a good book anyway.

Happy happy thoughts everyone, let's play nice. Nobody should try converting people to atheism or Christianity or whatever based on an author interview.


message 19: by Jessie (new)

Jessie I've been a fan of Anne Rice for many years. Love her earlier work, but not so much the later vampire/witch books. As big a fan as I am of Lestat and the rest of the old crew, you can only write so many stories before it gets stale. Lestat petered out and eventually every author has to pick a new direction. Am I happy that Anne Rice chose to no longer write about vampires and witches? No. Will I still continue to read her books? Yes. I am a loyal fan and likely always will be. I am not a Christian, but I can still enjoy her latest books because she is such a master storyteller. To those so quick to bash her on that front - have you even read hew new ones?


message 20: by Eric (new)

Eric Starks I have been an Anne Rice fan since 1993, and I've read all of her books up to "The Road to Cana" (which comes after "Christ the Lord"), owning most of them. While I miss the fact that she has chosen to stop writing about the supernatural, we as fans have to respect the fact that she decided to take such a leap of faith, as it were, and write about the life of Jesus. That she has managed to do so after writing about vampires and witches for 30 years is a tribute to both her the strength of her Catholic faith and her genius as a storyteller.

*peace*

eric


message 21: by Powersamurai (new)

Powersamurai I've been an Anne Rice fan for about 15 years and have read everything she has written under her own name. Her books have always dealt with religion. What is different now? I got the feeling that she only wrote the last 2 books in the Vampire/Mayfair series to keep the fans happy. Fine. Now she is writing what she wants to. Whether you believe in Jesus or not, her writing is still fresh and pulls you in the moment you open the first page. She has made Jesus human as she did with the vampires. The way she paints a picture of life in Nazareth with few words is amazing. If you don't want to read the new books, then don't. Just stop harping on about it.


message 22: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy I'm proudly 52-- indeed, almost 53-- and am happy to realize that my life experience amounts to something: after all these long years, I know to give things a chance. My favorite earlier works by Ms. Rice were "Cry to Heaven" and the books about the Mayfair witches; I found the latter series evocative and spooky and just very engrossing! I could disappear into the atmosphere that swirled around those books, and hated to see them end.
Being a practicing Catholic (which means that, hopefully, I'll get it right one day...), I was drawn to "Christ the Lord." I found the first two books very moving and affirming: Ms. Rice captures Christ's humanity in the most beautiful, clear way. One of my cherished sequences occurs in "Road to Cana," during the exchange between Him and his Mother. It's so simple and gorgeous-- and dead on.
Those of you who have decried her "Christ" works without reading them should give them a try. If you're unwilling to read them because they spring from her active return to her faith (after all, once a Catholic, always a Catholic), then read them as great literature. Her descriptions of the land of the Bible are especially beautiful, and I feel that she expertly captures the essence of the time and the place.
And finally, for those ready to judge Ms. Rice without considering her artistic and religious decisions--read the new autobiography.
Thank you !


message 23: by Gloria (new)

Gloria Ditto--huge Anne Rice fan for many years! Even visited her neighborhood in New Orleans just to see her house! She possesses a mind like no other writer.
Several years ago, I send her an email which she most graciously answered. Here's wishing the best of life to her! A true American icon! Thanks for all the great words!!


message 24: by Lynnette (new)

Lynnette Wow- so much to think about and so much I did not realize. I am anxious to discover these books too.


message 25: by Mona (new)

Mona When I heard about her "conversion" I was actually very upset. I understand she is ill, and like a lot of people at the end of life she has decided to cover all her bases. I have a very hard time believing that she actually believes what she is "preaching". This seems to be just another way to find spirituality before death. But then again, who am I to judge?


message 26: by Steven (new)

Steven Friederich I just... don't know


message 27: by Electra (new)

Electra I completely agree with you, Mona. The worst of all is not the conversion, but the fact that she abandoned the Vampires without really closing the stories.


message 28: by Liz (new)

Liz I just miss the vampires and the Mayfairs, plain and simple.


message 29: by David (new)

David Potts I think you'll find Ms Rice has been catholic for some time, and that she won't abandon her previous work (those of us who READ her interview will know this...)

And anyway, her style's so sumptuous and luxurious, I'd deeply enjoy reading anything she wrote, religious studies or philosophical fiction.

And any famous person has the right to write about themselves whenever they want to, and you know her memoirs will be interesting.

Stop whining, she's still awesome.

Anne, you're awesome.


message 30: by Elaine (new)

Elaine As a former Catholic, it's always interesting to me how many great writers have converted to Catholicism; e.g., C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, or been based in Catholicism; e.g., Madeleine L'Engle. Because I agree with the person above who suggested these Goodreads book site comments should be about books and writing, not religious debates, or comparative religion discussion. I will say only that Catholicism seems to have a lot of room for deep philosophical discussions and for great allegorical stories. It certainly seems to be a fertile ground for exceptional writers!


message 31: by Sarah (new)

Sarah One of the things I love about the Coven of Articulate Vampires is their constant quest for Meaning, Truth and Goodness. The conversation between Jesus and the Devil after 40 days of fasting in the wilderness seems to me to be a natural continuation of the conversation between LeStat and Memnoch outside Heaven.
Anne Rice made me fall in love with LeStat over and over again. And she does the same for me with Jesus (Yeshua).
What's wrong with that? She's a master at what she does. Her stories--vampires, witches, taltos, mummies, genies, and the Divine--will be studied and enjoyed for generations to come.
--Sarah
p.s. i hope she writes many more books in this series. Jesus, even more than Lasher or Maharet, is immortal. [That's the story anyway. I believe it. You don't have to.:] He was there at creation and he'll be there in the end. What wonderful tales someone with Ms. Rice's talent could tell the world on His behalf!


message 32: by Richard (new)

Richard Something that's missing in this discussion is the impact Anne Rice's novels have had on the gay male population, at a time when sexual liberation was coming to a head (so to speak), and then in advance of and during the aids crisis. From "Cry to Heaven" to "Armand the Vampire," many, many of Rice's characters have embodied, mirrored the plight and the ecstasy of the "other" in society. She has boldly invented a world of dark and bright heroes for whom a shadow existence remains the only choice, at least until the dawn of their redemption in self-knowledge and the discovery of generosity towards humankind and "others" finds its theme.
As for Ms. Rice's "conversion," each to her own. She's always been a dark, benevolent, genius angel for me (though I stopped reading after "Memnoch the Devil" and "Armand" - "The Tale of the Body Thief" is my favorite.) Richard


message 33: by Rai (new)

Rai What a delight to read this interview with Anne, one of my all-time favorite authors. I adore her writing style & storytelling, I have great reverence for her as an author. I love her Vampire books, I have them all, and Memnoch the Devil is one of my all-time favorite novels.

I empathize with Anne, writers are generally introspective, emotional and highly sensitive creatures, and we must go where we must go. There is just something deep down in our souls that guides us to waters we need to explore. I have tremendous respect for Anne Rice. Her gift is undeniable and her path is uniquely and rightly her own...

Rai Aren, co-author of Secret of the Sands


message 34: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Ann Rice has given me a whole new world to look at. Her art is beautiful. I am thankful for all she has created and everyone I fell in love with.
I have read every fiction book she has written. Several times.
I am now reading her autobiography.
Although I am not a Christian, I study religions.
I find her work on Jesus just beautiful, senstional and she brings me to that time. As she always has put me there.
I would love more on vampires, witches, supernatural, but I will read whatever Ms.Rice writes. What talent, what a beautiful person.
Thank you Ann for making many days and nights full of adventure and knowledge for me.


message 35: by Melanie (new)

Melanie If you want her to continue her vampire series why not pray about it ?


message 36: by Galen (last edited Dec 11, 2008 04:50AM) (new)

Galen Elaine,

When did Lewis become a Catholic? Having read several biographies and a lot of other material by and about him, I was under the impression that he remained a member of the Anglican church.

There's a sense, of course, in which Lewis was catholic with a 100+ point, double boldface, capital C. Though an Anglican he certainly saw himself primarily as just a member of the universal Christian bod--a body which reaches beyond boundaries of denomination or variations of (or lack of) creedal confession, worship praxis, and so on, to include all who strive to follow Christ.

In that sense I too am catholic, though a firm Protestant and member of a Baptist church. There just isn't a big enough "C" on my keyboard to indicate this overarching sense of the word. :-)


Kyle made Rice's return to her true calling a condition for his return to an interest in her work.

To a Christian such as Ann or myself these words ("true calling") connote the call of Christ, that we follow him.

Perhaps someone can elucidate the athiest usage of the phrase. Who makes this call or claim upon an author? Readers? Editors or publishers? The author's own psyche or ego? And what basis is there for a "true" calling in a universe that is ultimately random and devoid of purpose?


message 37: by A. (new)

A. Her books, namely her characters, have always revealed a strong connection to faith. I always believed that Ms. Rice was an amazing storyteller; and now that she's dedicated her gifts to Christ, I know that her recompense will be totally supernatural.

People will always become upset when they are reminded of the fact that we have a purpose by design, and will become annoyed to reflect on whether they themselves have answered to the call that tugs at their heart's strings.

Congrats, Ms. Rice. Keep up the good work, "Until all have heard..."


message 38: by Diamond (new)

Diamond Actually, she has recently renounced the Catholic church...for many reasons...including the behavior of the Priests and their stances on LGBT, marriage, etc. If you follow her on facebook she regularly discusses things like this. I can't remember that many details, but I do know she is going to continue her novels and is going back into the supernatural ( as many may know with her recent publication of The Wolf Gift) which is Excellent!! I am sad for the person who said they are shunning her forever, bc they probably missed the very excellent books The Wolf Gift, Of Love and Evil, etc! They are her recent work and they are vERY VERY GOOD!


message 39: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Wendy wrote: "Ann Rice has given me a whole new world to look at. Her art is beautiful. I am thankful for all she has created and everyone I fell in love with.
I have read every fiction book she has written. Sev..."


Wendy, I know you wrote your comment 4 years ago, but I just came upon it, and it was beautiful, and among the best on this thread. Thank you.


message 40: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Diamond wrote: "Actually, she has recently renounced the Catholic church...for many reasons...including the behavior of the Priests and their stances on LGBT, marriage, etc. If you follow her on facebook she regul..."

Diamond, thank you for your well-informed comments. I agree that everyone has their path, and no one has the right to dictate, or to judge. Anne is extraordinarily talented, and each one of us needs to live according to the dictates of our own conscience and integrity.


message 41: by Linda (new)

Linda I'm a Christen and proud of it, but that dosen't mean I've gave up on my readings On Vampires, Ghost,werewolfs, what not and what have you, their a part of me, what I like...But also I belive in God, Jesus his son and the Holy Ghost, If Ms. Rice has turn to God, their is nothing wrong with that,She's human, and know's in her Heart what she need's to do with her life, Her Fan's should be so Happy for her, know dout she's been looking for this a long time, Knowing her writting's I'd like to read what she come's up with. Never judge a person for YOU will be Judge by GOD. God's Blessings apound you Anne Rice, I'm so Happy you have found God in your on time.


message 42: by Linda (new)

Linda Telly wrote: "I always felt there was something deep and transcendtal about her work. The way she describes her supernatural stories as dealing with the core issues of faith and redemption is very true; they re..."

Hi Telly, you know all you need to do is give your life over to Jesus and his farther, it's so easy to pray, it's like talking to some one but you can't see them, It never hurts to try, May GOD Bless you in all you do, and my he open your heart to let him in.


message 43: by Huma (new)

Huma I admire this woman even more than I used to.


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