Gwen Clayton - Remembering Anne Rice
Horror writers mourn the loss of Anne Rice
By Gwen Alyce Clayton
Many horror fans awoke the morning of Dec. 12, 2021 to a post on Anne Rice’s Facebook page, written by her son, Christopher.
“Dearest People of Page,” he wrote. “This is Anne’s son Christopher and it breaks my heart to bring you this sad news. Earlier tonight, Anne passed away due to complications resulting from a stroke. She left us almost nineteen years to the day my father, her husband Stan, died. The immensity of our family’s grief cannot be overstated. As my mother, her support for me was unconditional — she taught me to embrace my dreams, reject conformity and challenge the dark voices of fear and self-doubt. As a writer, she taught me to defy genre boundaries and surrender to my obsessive passions. In her final hours, I sat beside her hospital bed in awe of her accomplishments and her courage, awash in memories of a life that took us from the fog laced hills of the San Francisco Bay Area to the magical streets of New Orleans to the twinkling vistas of Southern California. As she kissed Anne goodbye, her younger sister Karen said, ‘What a ride you took us on, kid.’ I think we can all agree. Let us take comfort in the shared hope that Anne is now experiencing firsthand the glorious answers to many great spiritual and cosmic questions, the quest for which defined her life and career. Throughout much of her final years, your contributions to this page brought her much joy, along with a profound sense of friendship and community. Anne will be interred in our family's mausoleum at Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans in a private ceremony. Next year, a celebration of her life will take place in New Orleans. This event will be open to the public and will invite the participation of her friends, readers and fans who brought her such joy and inspiration throughout her life.”
Anne Rice was one of the most famous women writers in the horror genre. She published 36 novels, including two under the pseudonym Anne Rampling for adult-themed fiction/erotica and four BDSM fiction books as A.N. Roquelaure. Her first book, “Interview with the Vampire,” was published in 1976 and made into a blockbuster movie in 1994. Her thirty-sixth and final book, “Blood Communion: A Tale of Prince Lestat” was released October 2, 2018.
In 2008, she published her memoires in a book titled, “Called Out Of Darkness,” and in 2017, she co-authored “Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra (Ramses the Damned Series)” with her son, Christopher.
Rice was born Howard Allen Frances O’Brien on Oct. 4, 1941 in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1961, she married a poet/painter by the name of Stan Rice. The couple’s first child, daughter Michele, was born in 1966, but died of Leukemia shortly before her sixth birthday. Christopher came along in 1978.
It was while she was grieving the loss of Michele that Anne wrote her famous debut novel, “Interview with the Vampire.”
Anne lived in her iconic New Orleans mansion at 1239 First Street from 1989 to 2004. It was this house that inspired Mayfair Manor, the Garden District home of Anne's Mayfair Witches series.
Stan died in 2002. Anne never remarried.
In 2005, she relocated to Rancho Mirage, California where she died Dec. 11, 2021.
Rice’s long career influenced writers from all over the world, and she was always happy to chat with her friends over Facebook and offer advice to aspiring writers.
Emily Bex, international best-selling author of The Medici Warrior Series, communicated with her when the budding author was just starting the series.
“She was extremely generous with her time when new writers had questions, Bex said. The book “The Witching Hour” is one of her top-ten favorite books. “She wrote with such detail, you felt like an invisible participant in the story, standing unseen in the corner. The house she described in such detail in the book turned out to be her own home! I didn't know that at the time I read the book, but went in search of the house when I was in New Orleans on business (the book didn't list the address, but rather an intersection of two streets). I was shocked to discover she lived there. She later acknowledged she had no idea that her house would become a Mecca for her fans, and using it in the books was probably not her wisest decision.”
Later, when Rice sold the mansion and moved to California, she sold off a lot of her belongings. Bex ended up buying some of her China.
“She liked to buy a single place setting of a particular China pattern and then mix and match them,” she said. “I bought four place settings, and when I use them, it's like sitting down to dine with Anne and Lestat.”
Rice always referred to her Facebook readers as “People of the Page,” and frequently asked readers for input when she was working on a new book. She also frequently gave advice to aspiring writers like Bex.
"Write the story you want to read,” Rice once posted. “Chances are if you like it, others will too."
Another gem Rice offered was, “Protect your story. It’s your story. Don’t try to write for your audience. Accept that your story won’t be for everyone.”
“Her words gave me the courage to throw a lot of rules out the window,” Bex said. “When I released The Medici Warrior Series, a dark, paranormal romance, my vision for the ending was very clear, but also controversial; however it remained true to the arc of the storyline. As I neared the release of the final book in the six- book series, I was starting to panic. I had built up a large fan base, and I feared an avalanche of backlash and criticism if my fan base rejected the ending, and felt like they had stuck with me through six books only to be cheated out of a traditional happily ever after. I needed not worry. Anne was right all along. Thank you, Anne, for the hours of pleasure your books brought to me, and thank you from this aspiring writer who was given the courage to write my own story.”
The Witches series also influenced Denver-based USA Today Bestselling Author Corinne O’Flynn.
“Anne Rice is probably most famous for her vampires, but it was her witches that changed everything for me,” O’Flynn said. “The Witching Hour (Lives of Mayfair Witches) was one of those books and series that has stayed with me since it was published more than thirty years ago. She was the one who made witches cool, in my opinion. Nobody does witches better than Anne Rice. Anne Rice is the reason I write witches.”
“Anne Rice was the type of person who inspired me to try my hand at writing my ideas into short stories,” said author Cameron Jackson Weber. “And a series she did on witches started my fascination into witchcraft and start my journey on paganism. Anne is the author that inspires me to be the best me I can be and her novels provided a space for me to go to for safety and solace.”
“The brilliant Author has influenced me to write as well as to proudly accept the horribly magnificent traits of legend that I and others benefit from,” said Greg Ory. “Regardless of how outlandish or ridiculous such legends ‘n’ traits are to be. Anne Rice followed her passion despite a certain terrifying experience she was privileged to be a part of. Staying true to her artistic vision is truly an inspiration for all!”
“Anne Rice has always given me great advice in my writing,” said Margarita Felices, author of the Judgement Of Souls trilogy. “She even gave me examples of some of the pitfalls I would encounter when my vampire novels were optioned by movie producers. Over the years she was inspirational and I was honoured to be compared to her in a horror publication. It made her smile and say she was honoured. But it’s me who was honoured and humbled by her praise.”
Writer and digital artist Richard A. Delgado was so grieved by the news of the death of Anne Rice, that he created his own piece of art, depicting the characters of his novels bowing at the feet of Rice and her vampire, Lestat.
“This is truly a saddened moment to me personally,” he said. “As a child I grew up knowing about her infamous vampire tales, and became very fond of her works. Anne Rice was and is truly one of my biggest influences, and inspirations as a rising writer. If it wasn't for her, my very own vampire series wouldn't have been possible, or existed in the first place. I can only express how grateful and fortunate I am to say that I lived in the time of her writing.”
Delgado is the author of The Ancient Chronicles, a story about a newborn vampire.
Although the body of Anne Rice no longer sits at her keyboard, her legacy continues in the writers of vampires and witches yet to come.
Bookshelf: Cicada Books in Huntington, West Virginia has a large collection of used books by Anne Rice for sale.
Richard Delgado art: Author and digital artist Richard Delgado depicts the characters of his own novels bowing at the feet of Rice and her vampire, Lestat.
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About the Author:
S. K. Gregory is an author, editor and blogger. She currently resides in Northern Ireland.
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”