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Christopher Rice on "The Vines", "The Vampire Chronicles" and Universal

Christopher and his Mom at a book signing
Christopher and his Mom at a book signing

Christopher Rice, New York Times Best-Selling author of “A Density of Souls”, “The Snow Garden”, “The Heaven’s Rise” and many others including his latest, “The Vines”, scheduled for release on October 21st, 2014 has had one helluva month.

Besides the impending publication of “The Vines”, Mr. Rice has also just learned that his screenplay for “The Tale of the Body Thief” , as well as the entire “Vampire Chronicles” by Anne Rice, has been acquired by Universal and Imagine and will be produced by Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci.

It is news that both authors have waited a long time to hear as they continue to work on new and exciting projects all the time.

In an effort to find out exactly how it feels for the author and co-host of the widely popular weekly internet radio program “The Dinner Party Show” to work with such extraordinary individuals (including his Mom, author Anne Rice, whose own novel “Prince Lestat” will be released October 28th, 2014) as well as, more about “The Vines”, we decided to go directly to the source and ask.

As always, his answers are honest, straight-forward and humble. And now, here’s Christopher Rice:

1 - You have had some great news lately, which are you most excited about; your new book "The Vines" or the acquisition of your screenplay for The Tale of the Body Thief and why?

It’s impossible to decide. In both cases, I get to work with an amazing group of people. I had to pinch myself this week during a phone call when someone said, “We’re currently scheduling your script notes meeting with Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci”. I’ve been a huge fan of theirs ever since the STAR TREK reboot. When Bob Orci called the house to congratulate me I stammered like a drooling fanboy. On THE VINES, I’m working with an incredibly smart and savvy team across two imprints at Amazon Publishing. 47North is bringing out THE VINES as well as a new edition of A DENSITY OF SOULS, and Thomas & Mercer will bring out new editions of THE SNOW GARDEN and LIGHT BEFORE DAY. This is the first time all of my most popular backlist titles will be available in both print and digital editions. I’ve also got another project coming out in November, my first erotic romance, THE FLAME. It’s part of an interesting new marketing concept called 1,001 DARK NIGHTS, a monthly series of novellas from some of the most popular authors of erotic romance.

2 - Is it harder to write a novel or screenplay and why?

Screenplays are always harder because you have to say more with less. It’s like haiku or some other restrictive form of poetry.

3 - Can you tell us anymore about The Vines that you have yet to reveal?

It’s lean and mean, meant to be read in either one or just a few sittings, depending on how fast you read. It takes place mostly in a single night of terror. It’s the closest I’ll ever come to telling a real ghost story. And I’m not a big ghost story fan. So let’s say the ghosts don’t use strange noises to frighten people and they don’t hide out in closets or the attic. Have I confused you yet? That said, I’m not a fan of relentless torture-porn parades capped off with smug nihilism, and those seem to dominate the horror genre these days. I’m not puritan, but I’m kind of a wuss when it comes to torture. So I’ve tried to make the central characters sympathetic and believable. I don’t just introduce folks so they can be hacked to pieces in the next scene. But my approach to storytelling is action-thriller in its orientation, and that's very much on display in THE VINES.

4 - What does the purchase of The Vampire Chronicles and your screenplay mean to you?

It’s very exciting. It required a lot of patience. I wrote the script almost two years ago. There are a lot of mistaken reports out there in the press right now, but that’s fine, I guess. Imagine and Universal optioned the script as part of their larger option of the underlying material. But Imagine and Kurtzman & Orci have spent years exploring different approaches to the material and how best to relaunch it. But my script was sort of orphaned and homeless for a while after I wrote it. Everyone involved wanted to buy it, but there were a lot of thorny, complex issues relating to the underlying properties that had to be sorted out first. The fact that everyone one rallied and resolved these incredibly complex legal issues is a testament to how much Universal and Imagine and Kurtzman & Orci want to get this done, and that’s fantastic. So parts of the process were torture - the waiting, the stops and starts, the uncertainty. When the announcement broke, it was like I unclenched for the first time in years.

5 - Was it your decision to take on a screenplay at this point in your life or were you encouraged to do so by outside forces?

Mom insisted I do it. She’d been insisting I throw my hat in for years and every time she brought it up, I shut her down. I’ve dodged allegations of nepotism my entire life and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to endure what people were going to say if I tried to take this on. (It’s easier to dodge these allegations if you just don’t read blog comments.) But the development process reached a stage where there was a giant opening for a writer to step in and really offer up a take on the material and Mom basically took me by the scruff of the neck and said, “You have to write this!”. And I said, “Alright, fine.” And I had a ball. Really, I did. Screenwriting was actually my first love. I went to school for it, and when I wrote my first novel it felt like a deviation from my chosen path.

6 - All kidding aside, what has it meant to have your Mom's support and approval when it came to the screenplay?

It’s key. But it’s also hard. These are her babies. We had talked in the past about adaptations of books like SERVANT OF THE BONES and VIOLIN. But those aren’t the Chronicles. Those aren’t the vampires. These are her precious babies and so they have to be handled with care. But the objective with this script, and the project, at large is a re-launch of the vampires on film. There’s very much a consensus that this going to be a superhero film. The vampire as superhero. More importantly, Lestat as a superhero! Grand, epic and action-filled.

7 - What can you tell us (thanks to your Mother) about Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Younger than Springtime" and how can we get you to sing a few bars on your weekly Internet radio program The Dinner Party Show”?

Mom’s a better singer than she lets on. She lacks the confidence of an opera soprano, perhaps, but she can carry a tune, for sure. She used to sing to me over my bed when I was a little boy, and if she were truly as bad as she thought she was, it would have kept me awake, not lulled me off to sleep.

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