People often ask what authors were the most inspirational for me growing up, and for the most part, I didn’t have a lot of authors that resonated, just certain stories. I didn’t tend to read much from one author, but sought out plots that drew me in at any given time.
Anne Rice was and was not an exception to this.
I read all of her original Vampire Chronicles starting when I was 12. I read a little of the New Tales, but mostly let any interest in those die off when the development of my favorite characters started to stray from what I ultimately wanted. But I never read any of her other series. I was solely engaged with the Brat Prince and his supporting cast.
The story of how I started reading a very adult book series at such a young age is one of my favorites. Ever since I was very young, I’ve had an obsession with vampires. I pinpoint the start of that to watching the cartoon Count Duckula when I was little, and even seeing iterations of Dracula in other mediums quite young, but this all came to a head when the film adaptation of Interview with the Vampire came out in 1994.
I was entranced by the trailer. I wanted nothing more than to see it. But since it was rated R, my mother said no. Stumbling upon the book in Barnes and Noble, I went away with a mission. I saved my $5 a week allowance for over a month so I’d have enough money to purchase the hard cover and defy my mother’s decision. When I tried to buy the book, she relented and said she’d let me see the movie and then I could get the book if I still wanted it.
Well, I loved that movie, and today it remains one of my favorite films. I can speak almost every line along with the characters. Anne Rice’s vampires are my favorite singular version of the creatures, and they always will be. I proceeded to read the books and never looked back.
It wasn’t just the writing that drew me in though, but the characters. I fell in love with Lestat, and because Rice had such an integral hand in the creation of the film version, it was a great adaptation for all of its changes, and Tom Cruise embodied Lestat so perfectly, my internal vision of him never strays far from that portrayal.
That’s what really good writing, good storytelling does—it makes the characters, even if just one, so alive that readers remain enamored with them for life. Lestat will always be one of those characters that I love without hesitation, because of how Rice wrote him, how I got to see him both on the page and in film.
To this day I have the first few lines of the last book in the original series memorized (however paraphrased):
Lestat here. You know who I am? Then skip the next few paragraphs. For those whom I have not met before, I want this to be love at first sight.
My newest novel, Life as a Teenage Vampire, takes elements of Rice’s vampire lore but also has its own tweaks, and definitely has a lighter, younger tone. It’s Young Adult. It is the novel I wish I’d had to read when I first picked up Interview with the Vampire—not that I have any regrets.
I hear Rice is thinking of bringing her vampire series to TV. If so, I hope it’s amazing.
One thing I choose to do very differently from Rice, however, is how I address fandom. Allowing fans to be inspired by your work, to write their own connected stories and to draw art, is a wonderful, beautiful thing, that I would only ever encourage. I wish one of my writing heroes felt the same, but alas, I can’t embrace everything about Anne Rice; I’ve since had to move on from my naïve younger years thinking she could do no wrong.
But she still gave me something beautiful that I know to this day influences my writing, especially where it concerns vampires, and for that I can only say—thank you.