I learned today that Anne Rice passed away earlier this week. My heart reels for her son, Christopher, and the rest of her family. To them I offer my sincerest condolences.
My Introduction to Anne Rice
I first read Interview With The Vampire when I was thirteen years old. I saw the book in the Satellite Beach Public Library and I was intrigued by the title. I didn’t recognize the author’s name, but I decided to check it out anyway. It was one in a stack of books I brought home that week.
To my surprise, once I started reading my first Anne Rice book, I couldn’t put it down. I read it once, and then read it again. I was enthralled by the story, the description, the emotion. It was like being slapped in the face with something new and exciting, and I didn’t mind the sting on my cheek.
It’s worthy to note here that in the year or so before I discovered Anne Rice’s work, I read everything I could find by J.R.R. Tolkien. After reading The Hobbit in school, I was hooked on Tolkien’s work. The same thing happened with the works by Anne Rice. After reading Interview With The Vampire, I sought out more books by my new favorite author.
As was common in times preceding the Internet, finding other books by a certain author required a bit of research. I was happy that the library book had a page promoting other works written by Mrs. Rice, and it wasn’t long before I found The Vampire Lestat and The Queen of the Damned. I read them as voraciously as I did the first novel, but I was kinda bummed that there wasn’t more.
The Witching Hour
Do you know how once you discover something new, like a car or an author, you begin to see them everywhere? That same thing happened with Anne Rice, and the little Fiat I bought years ago. After reading the first three books of the Vampire Chronicles, I was looking for something more. In my mind, there just had to be more Anne Rice books out there. And then, I discovered something on my mom’s bookshelf.
It was one of those moments where you gasp at something in passing, as I did when I glanced at the bookshelf as I walked by. I remember stopping, taking a couple steps back, and turning to face the tome of The Witching Hour. In awe, I slid the heavy, hardbound book off the shelf and admired it in silence. I thumbed through the pages and noticed that it had already been read. That was enough evidence for me to steal the book away to my bedroom where it stayed for as long as I can remember.
A Whirlwind of Reading
Once I turned 15, I got a job as a burger flipper at McDonald’s. I didn’t care for working in fast food, but like most high schoolers who wanted money for dates, asking customers if they wanted fries with their orders became a social necessity.
It was during this age of newfound wealth that I started to grow my own library. (I also joined one of those CD clubs, where you got 10 CDs for a penny, but then you had to buy five or six at full price over the next two years.) I decided one day that I was going to buy my own copies of the vampire books I’d read by Anne Rice.
When I arrived at the bookstore, I was elated to discover that there was a slew of Anne Rice books that I’d never seen. I found The Tale of the Body Thief and Memnoch the Devil. Where had these books been all my life?? On the same shelf stood two other books, Lasher and Taltos. I was more excited than ever, and I spent all the money I had in my pocket to purchase these new discoveries. I did eventually go back and buy the first three vampire books as originally planned.
The Dark Ages of Literature, Personally
In 1997, I graduated high school and immediately enlisted in the Army. I can not recall doing much personal reading during my many years of service. I went to book stores, sure, and I remember buying CDs and magazines. But I can’t name one book that I purchased.
Once the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan started, I deployed wherever the Army wanted me to go. During those deployments, I remember that our unit would receive care packages from churches and other supportive groups, and these packages would have things like socks, toiletries, and books in them. Whatever was inside was free for the taking, and I remember seeing a worn, paperback copy of Interview With The Vampire.
With dust caked sunglasses, a rifle slung on my shoulder, and a cigarette hanging from my lips, I snagged the book and returned to my cot. I immediately started reading it, and I didn’t put it down except when it was time for chow, or if our outpost was under attack. I didn’t come across any other Anne Rice books during the war, but I was grateful to discover other enjoyable authors like James Patterson. I read a number of his books in during deployments.
A Time for Anne Rice
It pains me to admit that I’ve not read anything by Anne Rice since the late-1990s. I was occupied with war, divorce, substance abuse, and other unpleasant realities of the human experience. But I’ve also spent a great deal of time learning and raising a rather large family.
After retiring from the Army, I went to college and got a degree. I then earned a Master’s in Composition, and I’m currently slugging my way through an MFA in Creative Writing. I’ve started a freelance writing business, and I earn a great living by flexing my adoration and appreciation for words. I love to write, and I believe with my entire soul that it is because of the great authors I’ve encountered during my life. Legendary writers, like Anne Rice.
I have some catching up to do, and I plan to spend 2022 reading and rereading all of Anne’s novels. I’ve also learned that Ramses the Damned: The Reign of Osiris, written by Anne and Christopher Rice, is set to be released in 2022. It will be a year-long tribute to one of the most memorable writers of my youth, and I look forward to reconnecting with her and her work.
While I am sad at her passing, I know that Anne will live forever in the hearts of her readers who have come to adore the characters and worlds she created.
Thank you, Anne, for the influence you’ve had on my life and the writing career you helped me discover.
Farewell, you bright and beloved Star.