UPDATE 10/31/14: In Anne’s newest novel, “Prince Lestat,” she revives a much-loved vampire.
UDPATE 10/7/13: Anne’s new novel “The Wolves of Midwinter,” part of The Wolf Gift Chronicles, is due out Oct. 15.
UPDATE 11/2/12: Anne is ready to return to New Orleans after a 7-year absence. She says, “I need to be with my characters.”
Anne Rice is the international best-selling author of over 30 books, and unless you’ve been living under a coffin, she is best known for The Vampire Chronicles, including Interview with the Vampire which became a blockbuster movie.
“All you can do is write the books that you love and that you want to read, throw it out there and hope other people will get it.” Anne Rice
Anne has sold over a whopping one hundred million books in her career. At 70, she now has a new novel out, The Wolf Gift, a twist on the traditional wolfman theme. Now Anne’s life has always been an open book, so I really wanted to find out what’s going on in her latest chapter.
I spoke with the doyenne of the dark arts for The Women’s Eye Radio Show while she was on her book tour. Here is an excerpt from that interview…
EYE: I don’t think there’s anybody on this planet who doesn’t know who you are Anne, but do you still feel when you’re out there with a new book that you’re reintroducing yourself all over again?
ANNE: Definitely. And there are always people who will come up to you three months after it is published and say, “You haven’t written anything lately, have you?” Getting the word out, that’s the problem. That’s why we love it when you interview us.
EYE: I think a lot of people are going to be excited about this book because it’s like going back to your roots, but I’m curious…will you do for wolfmen what you did for vampires?
ANNE: Well, there’s a lot of werewolf literature out there, and there really wasn’t when I wrote Interview With The Vampire. There wasn’t a lot of new fiction about vampires, so I’m coming into a crowded field now.
But what I’m coming in with is my take on it, sort of the “Anne Rice treatment” of the werewolf. I had a lot of fun doing exactly what I wanted with it, so I hope people will be responding.
EYE: What did you want to do with it? Who is this Reuben, this newest wolfman?
ANNE: Well, the principle thing I wanted to do with it is to develop the story of a man who’s bitten by a mysterious werewolf, gets the gift – or the curse, however you see it – then changes into a wolf, but stays conscious the whole time. He doesn’t black out. He doesn’t go stark raving mad or turn into a rabid monster.
ANNE: Exactly. He’s conscious the whole time that his body is changing, and hair is popping out all over him and the claws are elongating and his muscles are strengthening.
He’s aware of it all, and when he goes out as a manwolf, as a werewolf, he’s aware. He’s still Reuben Golding. He still has his personality.
He’s under the spell of this gift and he can do things that he could never do before, like run across the rooftops in San Francisco and go up trees and come down alley ways and surprise people and overwhelm them.
But still it’s Reuben, and so we get his point of view, this young man’s point of view, and feelings about what’s happening to him.
EYE: And it’s not like he’s randomly just going after anyone. It sounds like he’s targeting his victims, right?
ANNE: Right away he hears the voices of people in the night who are crying for help, and he’s immediately drawn to the crime scene where he intervenes against the villains, the attackers, the predators. He intervenes like a classical werewolf by tearing the people apart. He’s definitely aware of good and evil and who’s innocent and who’s guilty. He’s like a super hero.
“I think we think about the novels we write for a long time before we ever consciously decide to write them.”
EYE: So what gets you inspired? Where is this coming from?
ANNE: I had certainly seen werewolf movies and have enjoyed werewolves on TV shows and so forth, but it was really a suggestion by a friend, Jeff Easton, in an e-mail. He’s the creator of the TV show “White Collar.” He said if you ever write a werewolf book, I will certainly buy it.
I got to thinking about it and suddenly the idea came to me. I saw how to do it, and when you see how to do something, when you see a way, that’s when a novel is born. You start — oh yeah, I see this guy…I see it happening to him. Then when he changes, he’s able to pick up his iPhone and photograph himself.
EYE: I’m sure you’re writing something on a daily basis to keep fresh. In the video above, you talk about the process of writing.
ANNE: Yes, I work every day really, but the actual plunge into a book is a disciplined thing. I take about a month to three months to write a book. Once I plunge then I don’t do anything else. I work every day and into the evening every night ’til it’s finished.
That’s a very intense, wonderful period, but there’s a lot of thinking about it before that. There’s a lot of research. There’s a lot of taking notes, and even some false starts. My computer is just littered with files preparing for novels–thoughts on this, thoughts on that, what about this, what about that and just notes.
I talk to myself about it, and then when I really have a roadmap and an idea of the characters, I plunge. Of course, once you plunge, everything changes anyway.
“Life is such a miracle. It’s so incredible. The things I’ve witnessed in my lifetime…”
EYE: A theme that you keep coming back to with your books is immortality. Why is that? Is that something that you would love to have if possible?
ANNE: Oh, yes. The saddest thing about getting older is thinking I won’t be here to see what really happens with this, and I won’t be here to see what happens with that. Life is such a miracle. It’s so incredible. The things I’ve witnessed in my lifetime!!! I was born in 1941. Just think about it. People didn’t have television sets then. They didn’t even have refrigerators.
I remember the first refrigerator coming up the back steps and being installed in the kitchen. To think I work now on a giant Apple computer and fly all over the country signing books and do Skype interviews with people in Germany. Of course I’d love to be immortal. I’d love to know what’s going to happen.
EYE: There have been a lot of changes for you in recent years, too. You’re now on the West Coast. How do you like this latest chapter of your life, away from New Orleans, a place everybody associates with you?
ANNE: I’m loving it. I’m a person who thrives on novelty and change. I had 18 wonderful years in New Orleans, but this is a new era for me. This is a new time, and I love being out here in California.
It was fun in The Wolf Gift to be writing about northern California where I had lived for so long before I ever went home to New Orleans. And it was wonderful to be back there in San Francisco and Mill Valley and going through Muir Woods and up the Mendocino coast.
To me, the setting of a novel, the geography of it, really is important to the character in a novel. It’s all new. It feels all fresh. Gosh, I used New Orleans in I don’t know how many novels. It was wonderful, but I crave change. I crave different settings and seeing the sunset from a different place.
EYE: I think a lot of people thought, wow! How could she leave the Anne Rice home and the doll collection? Do you miss your dolls?
ANNE: No. I’m happy that they’re no longer my responsibility. I had a wonderful time with them, and for years they were seen by a lot of people. People would go through our buildings in New Orleans and see the dolls every day, but there was no place over here where I could really show them or share them. They were a responsibility. They were beautiful antiques, and I’m very glad that they’ve gone back to the world.
“The more experiences an author like me has, the better it is. It’s much more fun. It’s vital.”
EYE: Does your life dictate what you write? What happens in terms of each chapter of your life and what you’re writing about?
ANNE: I think my life determines it in the sense that my books reflect where I am; where I am in my spiritual quest; where I am in my search for meaning; where I’m living physically; what my interests are–all of that. After traveling to Italy, I used Italy as the setting in a number of novels.
I was so inspired by Florence, Venice and Rome that they cropped up over and over again in my books. It’s stimulating. The prose comes sparkling alive, for me, anyway. I hope it does for others, too. I love to do research. There’s always a sad point where I have to say goodbye to the research and get to work on the book.
ANNE: I’m happy to have someone say that if they want to. I change my mind. I think changing your mind morally is a very good thing to be able to do in life.
I’ve been alive now 70 years. You learn, you experience, and for me that means reassessing what you believe, what you’ve become and what you want to be.
EYE: You were raised Catholic, but for about two decades, you were an atheist. And then you said, ” I’m embracing the church, I’m embracing God,” and wrote about that at the time, too. Where do you stand now with the church, Catholicism and Christianity?
ANNE: Faith in God, for me, really is a moral issue, and I believe strongly in God. I want to live a decent and moral life for God. I believe in a moral God, and I have moved away from organized religion because I felt I had to. Now for other people that conflict maybe wouldn’t exist, but for me, it turned out that it did, and I think God is really there for all of us.
There is no particular church or denomination for me, only God. God is there to be prayed to, to be talked to by us, to be discovered by us. I’m not comfortable at this point with any organized religion because of all the many things that go along with it.
EYE: You talk in the above video about how you try to make the story exciting. Do you worry every time a book comes out, wondering if it will sell as much as this one did?
ANNE: Oh, sure. I think you worry about that all the time. You always do. You write a book; you love that book, you want people to love it; and of course you’re going to be aware of that. There’s not a whole lot you can do about that. All you can do is write the books that you love and that you want to read, throw it out there and hope other people will get it. Every book is thrilling because you don’t know what will happen.
EYE: If The Wolf Gift is a big hit, do I smell a wolfman chronicle?
ANNE: Oh, yes. I’m not sure it would have to be a big hit. I probably will do a sequel if it’s just a modest hit. I love the character of Reuben and his family and the other mysterious figures that appear in the book. They’re very alive to me, and I love making whole worlds like that, not just one character but the whole supporting cast, the whole universe that he lives.
ANNE: Yes. One of The Vampire Chronicles has been bought by Imagine, the company owned by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. They’re developing The Tale of the Body Thief and making that into a movie, so that makes me very happy. It’s been too long since there was a movie.
I have other properties available and other people interested. Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, my first novel about Jesus, has been optioned by Chris Columbus’ production company, 1492 Pictures, and they are developing it into a movie. They have a wonderful script. I read it, and they’re well along the way there.
EYE: As we wrap up, is there just one thing you hope your fans and your legacy will be?
ANNE: I don’t know. I hope they say, “I loved her books. I just can’t forget them ever.”
EYE: Anne, thank you so much for taking the time to talk today. The Wolf Gift is out there for your fans to read and absorb and enjoy! Best of luck with it!
Photos of Anne Rice: Matthias Scheer