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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.
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.
Woman of the (Web) Page
Anne Rice is very active online, communicating often with her People of the Page (this is what she calls her fans), and even posting videos… like that time she arrived at a book signing inside a coffin.
Trivia with the Vampire
There is a special section of Anne Rice's webpage just for Interview with the Vampire. Its discussion questions are even more in depth than ours. Definitely something to sink your fangs into.
What if Lestat Were a Scientologist?
The 1994 film starred a trio of 90s hunks: Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, and Antonio Banderas. It also introduced us to a future Mary-Jane Watson and Marie Antoinette: Kirsten Dunst. Anne Rice, by the way, initially hated the casting of the movie. We can picture her saying to Tom Cruise, Get thee behind me, shorty!
Vampires Never Age. Movies Do.
Even though the Pitt/Cruise movie still holds up today, there are often talks of a remake. Anne Rice reportedly wants Robert Downey Jr. to star as Lestat.
Anne the Vampire Slayer
Anne Rice says she'll never write about vampires again, but she still has a lot to say about how she created them in the first place. Who'd have thought she'd one day replace vampires with angels?
Vampires are People too
People magazine loves sex and tragedy almost as much as the American public loves vampires. In this interview from 1988, People asks Anne Rice about her personal tragedies and her tragic book. Sex and death together. It's like the interview version of True Blood.
Inspirations of the Author
How does one woman write something so twisted? Find out by reading this New York Times interview from 1988.
A young Kirsten Dunst acts out the scene in which Claudia demands to know who made her into a vampire. If you thought a five-year-old could throw a temper tantrum, wait until you see what a five-year-old vampire can do.
From Interview to Publication
In this interview with the Interview author (how meta), Anne Rice discusses her journey from writing books to getting published and becoming the queen of vampire lit.
Interview with Lestat
Listen to Tom Cruise and Anne Rice talk about the motivations behind the mysterious Lestat in this series of video interviews. No, Lestat is not a Scientologist.
Straight from the Author's Mouth
Get inside Rice's mind with these author interviews, one of which discusses her conflicted vampire creations.
Quoth the Vampire
Too many quotations marks in Interview got you down? Listen to the audio version and hear Louis tell you his tale. It's almost like you're the interviewer.
The historic St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is mentioned in the first part of Interview. Any vampires visiting are the least of your problems. This cemetery is also home to infamous voodoo queen Marie Laveau.