Since “Interview with the Vampire” was first published, readers and life-long fans of the novel have come to think of best-selling author Anne Rice’s characters as members of an exclusive family to which they are more than welcome to join.
From the “Brat Prince” Lestat to Louis, his long-time friend and victim, straight thru to the “Children of the Millennium” such as Marius, Maharet and Pandora, her characters have burst from the page and straight into our souls.
As readers, we have laughed with them, cried with them, loved with them and, at times, died with them all due to the creative brilliance of their creator, Anne Rice.
And while most of her fans can name the character that can most, certainly, be described as her “alter-ego”, she has hardly ever spoken of why that is so or which of her female characters is her favorite or who, among those many characters she’s created, would she like to sit down and share a meal with.
With the latest chapter, “Prince Lestat” of “The Vampire Chronicles” scheduled for release on October 28th, 2014, we here at the “Anne Rice Examiner” thought her fans might like to know the answers to these questions and more. We know we do.
Once again, as eloquent and honest as ever, Anne Rice:
1 - Most people assume, Lestat is your alter-ego, would they be correct and why Lestat?
Yes, he's my alter ego. I have a relationship with him that I've had with no other character. Why? I'm not sure I can say. I am one of those authors who stands back and lets the subconscious take over when writing. Lestat evolved in an intense and special way for me from the beginning. It was a struggle before writing "The Vampire Lestat," to find his First Person voice but when I did find it, I could not stop him from speaking. The old cliché is true: he came to life on the page; he took over.
2 - Was Louis someone you yourself would have thought to be a good choice for Lestat or did the character simply meet the story’s needs?
I didn't think of the story of "Interview with the Vampire" in those terms. The story started with Louis, and I was Louis in the story. Through Louis I discovered I could write about my reality: grief for a lost belief system; grief for a lost world of coherence and grace in childhood; grief for a lost native city, New Orleans. Lestat was entirely secondary in the writing of that book. I was chronicling Louis's struggle, his being overwhelmed by Lestat and resentful of him, his blaming Lestat for his own failures, his having to come to terms with the fact that he, Louis, was who he was, and it wasn't someone else's fault. They do say all first novels are autobiographical. If Lestat was anybody in the book, he was my husband Stan, the confident active atheistic man who did not grieve over any lost faith, and who acted decisively in the world around him. Lestat had Stan's full blond hair, and his stunning wardrobe (Stan was always an exquisite dresser) and some of Stan's sense of humor. So how can I answer your question? I can say that by the time I came to write "The Vampire Lestat," I was no longer Louis at all. My life has been transformed by my having become a published author. And the grieving, passive and resentful Louis was gone from my imagination.
3 - Are you influenced by real people when developing your characters or do you pick a look from someone, a personality trait from someone else or are they totally born in your mind?
Ideally, everything I've witnessed and know goes into ALL the characters. I've never based a character on a living or dead person. But surely any character I create is going to be based on all I've learned about human nature. I may flash on random moments in the past when describing a scene, when seeking to go deep into a character. But again, ALL of it is available to me. Lestat certainly went way beyond being Stan as "Interview with the Vampire" progressed, and he was indeed his own person by the time of "The Vampire Lestat."
4 - Besides Lestat, who you dine with constantly, which of your other literary children would you choose to have a meal with and why?
I'm not sure I'd want any of them around, if you want the truth. Seriously, I can't quite imagine confronting one of my characters in a social situation. It's fun to think about, perhaps. But I just don't know. Maybe it's my mood today. Can't say.
5 - Of your female vampires, who is your favorite and why?
Pandora is certainly my favorite female in "The Vampire Chronicles," but I loved Mona Mayfair in Mayfair Witches books. In fact, there were a number of female characters I loved in those books, including Beatrice Mayfair,Gifford Mayfair, and Rowan Mayfair. But I guess Pandora would be my all-time favorite. I loved writing "Pandora." I also love "Triana" in Violin. It's a hard question to answer because I only write about characters I love. If I don't love a character, well, the character doesn't last very long in the books. My novels aren't known for memorable despicable antagonists, except perhaps with the exception of Raglan James in "The Tale of the Body Thief."
6 - If you could change any plot point or any character or any action, what would it be and why?
If I could change anything, I would change the end of Ashlar and Morrigan in "Blood Canticle." I regret having written their ending that way. But it isn't something I think a lot about. I've moved on, am writing other books, other characters. Since you ask, however, well, that is something I wish I hadn't done.
7 - Has the anticipation for Prince Lestat increased his buzzing in your ear about what he wants to do next, besides look good?
Yes, definitely. I'm writing scenes all the time now for "Blood Paradise," the book that will follow "Prince Lestat." As I said, when Lestat starts to speak, well, it's difficult to stop him. He's a character I can't force, and sometimes lose touch with, but he's back now and talking freely. Other characters are coming to life for "Blood Paradise" as well. And new characters introduced in "Prince Lestat" are talking. I'm enjoying it, but this chorus of characters presents huge challenges. Writing is thrilling. But it's never easy. Writing is grand and wonderful; but it's never simple or fully automatic. The subconscious takes over, but the conscious editorial voice of the author is always at work too, so when I say I stand back and let it happen, I don't want to give the wrong impression. No writer, I don't think, can escape the conscious responsibility of shaping the work. No matter how heated the inspiration, no matter how fast the words are flowing, it is work --- joyful work, but work. At least that's how I see it.