Due to the Halloween season I thought it a good idea to profile one of the more prolific writers in the “horror” genre. While her books may not be as scary or grotesque as others, Anne Rice has definitely carved an image for one of our favorite monsters that will go on to influence many generations to come.
Not many authors can say they have changed the face of a genre as much as famed horror writer Anne Rice can. Her erotically charged romantic version of vampires is almost a must in today’s vampire fiction. The characters she created are vibrant, passionate, and sexy. Her settings are romantically classic. Both carry an almost mystical aura that most readers find hard to forget.
Anne Rice was born Howard Allen Frances O’Brien on October 4, 1941 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She attributes her odd first name (which she legally changed to Anne in later life) to her mother, who figured that giving her daughter a boy’s name would give her an odd advantage over the world in later life. For much of her childhood she and her family lived with her grandmother in a part of New Orleans known as the Irish Channel, and area Rice describes as a “Catholic Ghetto”. For much of her childhood her and her family lived poverty. This wasn’t helped by the fact that her mother was an alcoholic. When she was 15 her mother died of complications brought about from her alcohol addiction. Because of the lack of support he had at home, Rice’s father was forced to enroll Anne and her four sisters in a Catholic boarding school.
In 1957 her father remarried. Shortly after this he moved the entire family to Richardson in northern Texas. It was here in Richardson that Anne would meet her future husband, Stan Rice, in a journalism class at the local high school.
In 1959 Rice graduated from high school and completed a year at the Texas Woman’s College in Denton. After this she would transfer to Texas State College, she was soon forced to drop out from TSC due to lack of funds to meet tuition. After this failing she convinced a former roommate to join her in moving to San Francisco. Her Rice took a job at an insurance agency and began taking night classes and the University of San Francisco. On Easter break she traveled home to Denton to visit family, her she rekindled her relationship with Stan Rice and not too long later they were married. She was 20 and he wasn’t 19 yet. They returned to live in San Francisco in 1962.
Two years after receiving her B.A in Political Science she gave birth to her daughter Michele on September 21, 1966. Unfortunately, in 1970, Michele was diagnosed with granulocytic leukemia. She died two years later on August 5, 1972. Rice took this sad event hard. To cope with her grieving she turned to her writing. She took a previously written short story and extended it to become a book. This was to become Interview with the Vampire. Several publishers would reject the manuscript. In 1974 she sold the publishing rights to Alfred A. Knopf for $12,000. This was quite a lot more than what most writers got. During this time she also developed OCD which would take a year of therapy to overcome.
Her son, Christopher, was born in 1978. He would later follow in his mother’s footsteps and go on to become a bestselling author in his own right. A year after his birth, both Rice admitted to being an alcoholic. She and her husband both gave up drinking as to avoid putting her son through the same thing Rice’s mother put her through when she was a child. After the publication of Interview, Rice went on to right two historical novels, Cry to Heaven and The Feast of All Saints, which was later made into a miniseries in 2001. She also wrote the highly erotic Sleeping Beauty Trilogy during this time. This trilogy of novels is infamous for its images of BDSM. After these literary experiments she would return to vampire stories with the publication of The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned, both of which were sequels to Interview. Not long before Queen of the Damned was published Rice and her husband returned to New Orleans. It was here that she wrote the Lives of the Mayfair Witches trilogy.
Starting in the late 1990’s she began to have serious health issues. First in 1998 she fell into a coma and nearly died. After this she was diagnosed with diabetes and became insulin dependent. Before his own death, Rice’s husband, Stan, underwent a gastric bypass and shed slightly more than 100 pounds. A few years later she again almost died due to an intestinal blockage. It was during this time that Rice returned to Roman Catholicism, which she left shortly after high school. This embrace came with conditions, however. She was still a vocal supporter of Gay Rights as well as that of abortion.
In 2004 Rice left New Orleans for California in order to be closer to her son, who had moved to Los Angeles. She was gone during the events of Hurricane Katrina, but continues to be a tireless supporter of New Orleans related relief projects. It was also during this time that Rice began writing a series about the life of Jesus Christ, beginning with the book Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. This would be followed by Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana.
In 2010 Rice renounced her dedication to Christianity. While she still considers herself a follower of Christ, she no longer believes in the concept of organized religion.
Wikipedia, AnneRice.com, and biography.com contributed to this post.