Interview with the Vampire
Take a look around you: vampires are everywhere! Wait, wait, don't get alarmed. We don't mean in your closet, or under your bed. We mean on bookshelves, on your TV, in movie theaters, in video games… you know, everywhere. Now that we think about it, maybe you should check inside your closet. Just to be safe.
You might think we have Stephenie Meyer to blame for the new wave of vampires: brooding, sensitive, positively sparkling. (Did we say to blame? We mean to thank. Thanks, Steph!) But a different literary lady is responsible for the initial surge in vampire popularity, and that lady is Anne Rice.
In 1976, Interview with the Vampire reinvented the vampire novel. Anne Rice took the classic Dracula-influenced vampire myth—you know, that myth about vampires as scary soulless hunters with no conscience and a never-ending hunger for blood—and dragged it out into the sun to fry. (source) From the ashes, she built a new vampire, one who was self-conscious, who was conflicted, and one who, yes, dressed like a teenaged Goth.
Interview with the Vampire stars Louis de Pointe du Lac, the broodiest of broody vampires (take that, Angel). As he tells his tale, he reveals the eternal inner torment of a vampire forced to live with Lestat, his overbearing creator, and Claudia, a five-year-old vampire, who is a woman trapped in a child's body forever. Immortality has never looked so unappealing.
Rice has followed Louis, Lestat and others throughout her long-running Vampire Chronicles series, which concluded with a tenth book, Blood Canticle, in 2003. Interview was adapted to the big screen in 1994 with big stars like Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and Kirsten Dunst, and since then, Rice has branched out to write about mummies, angels, castrated opera singers, and Jesus—just to name a few of her subjects. In 2011, she made the jump from vampires to werewolves with her most recent series of novels: The Wolf Gift Chronicles.
Any of Anne Rice's People of the Page—that's what she calls her fans—will tell you that Anne is just as relevant today as she was in the groovy 70s. Don't disagree with them, because Anne might sic them on you (source). We think they're right. Vampires might not exist today without her. You'll have to Interview the vampire yourself to find out what it's all about.
Why Should I Care?
You should know how many fictional characters might not exist it if were not for Anne Rice: Edward Cullen. Angel and Spike. Bill and Eric. Jean-Claude. Damon and Stefan Salvatore. If we had the eternal life of a vampire, we still might not be able to list them all. They all owe their existence to Louis and Lestat.
Interview with the Vampire was a revolutionary book when it came out in 1976. It's like The Jungle of vampire novels. Upton Sinclair forced people to rethink the meatpacking industry. Anne Rice forced us to rethink a centuries-old vampire myth. Pressing social issue? Maybe not, but it sure is loads more fun.
It's also worth noting that E.L. James of Fifty Shades infamy didn't revolutionize the erotica genre either: Anne Rice did it first, with her Sleeping Beauty trilogy. Some of that steaminess overflows into the Vampire Chronicles as well. This woman is a pioneer, so return your wimpy 21st-century vampires to their coffins where they belong, grab a copy of Interview with the Vampire, and see where it all started.