Anne Rice was born on October 4th, 1941 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was the second of four daughters born to Katherine and Howard O'Brien. She was named Howard Allen O’Brien, after her father, who believed his name was too feminine. Anne explains:
"Well, my birth name is Howard Allen because apparently my mother thought it was a good idea to name me Howard. My father's name was Howard, she wanted to name me after Howard, and she thought it was a very interesting thing to do. She was a bit of a Bohemian, a bit of mad woman, a bit of a genius, and a great deal of a great teacher. And she had the idea that naming a woman Howard was going to give that woman an unusual advantage in the world.”
Anne officially started using the name Anne when a teacher asked her name on her first day of school. Anne yelled “Anne,” and her mother didn’t correct her, knowing that she was deeply embarrassed by her real name. And so the name Anne was born.
Following her mother’s death in 1956, she and her family moved to Richardson, Texas. It was there that Anne would soon meet her husband-to-be, Stan Rice. The two shared a high school journalism class and struck a quick bond. Their relationship, however, did not become official until after Anne’s graduation later that year.
In the fall of 1959, Anne went off to study at the Texas Woman’s College in Denton, leaving Stan behind to finish his senior year of high school. In 1960, Anne decided to move to San Francisco, California, leaving her family, and Stan, behind. The relationship was continued through letters and telephone calls. Then, in 1961, Anne received a telegram from Stan asking her to marry him. Anne accepted, and on October14, 1961, Anne married Stan, thus giving us Anne Rice.
After the wedding, the couple decided to move to the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco. They both enrolled at San Francisco State University. Anne graduated in 1964 with a BA in Political Science and Creative Writing.
In 1966, Anne found that she was pregnant. She gave birth to her daughter, Michelle Rice, on September 22, 1966. Anne decided at the time that she wanted to attend graduate school, so she and her family moved to Berkeley. Anne began the PhD program at Berkeley but was unhappy there. She decided to go back to San Francisco State University to get her MA in Creative Writing.
While in Berkeley, Anne wrote a short story called Interview with the Vampire. Anne explains the reasoning behind the story:
“I wrote about vampires on a whim. I was just sitting at the typewriter wondering what it would be like if a vampire told you the truth about what it was like to be a vampire. I wanted to know what it really feels like. I wanted to see through the vampire’s eyes and ask the questions I thought were inevitable for a vampire, who once had been human, to ask. What do you feel when you drink blood? Is it erotic? Is it glorious? Is it spiritual? I followed my imagination and my instinct.”
Unfortunately, in 1970, Anne’s daughter Michelle was diagnosed with leukemia. Michelle struggled with the illness, and on August 5, 1972, she would finally succumb to the disease. This sent the Rice’s into a major depression, completely destroying them for many years.
In 1973, as a way of taking her mind off of her sorrow, Anne started reworking the short story of Interview with the Vampire into a full-length novel. She spent a remarkably short time revising it. Anne explains the writing process:
"It didn't really take very long to write, Interview with the Vampire. I would say the total time was five weeks during one year, and 10-1/2 weeks during the following year when I revised it. And it took about a year to get it in the hands of a publisher who wanted it. I started sending it out, and I really did it rather slowly. And then, all of a sudden, on October 4, 1974, it was accepted for publication, and I was absolutely overjoyed. Of course, if somebody had told me it would be 1976 before we saw print, I would have been very upset, but it worked out very well."
Finally, in 1976, Knoph publishing published Interview with the Vampire. Anne was overjoyed. That same year, movie rights to the novel were sold to Paramount for the amount of $150,000 with a ten-year option.
Interview with the Vampire is the first novel in Anne’s tremendously successful series, the Vampire Chronicles. This story is a confession by the vampire Louis to a boy reporter, who then publishes the story under the pseudonym Anne Rice. In it, Louis explains how he became a vampire and how it has shaped him over the centuries. In 1994, this novel was brought to the big screen and became an instant success. Moviegoers flocked to the theaters to see actors such as Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Kirsten Dunst play their beloved vampires.
In 1978, Anne found herself pregnant again. On March 11, 1979, Anne gave birth to her son, Christopher Rice. Christopher has since gone on to become a published author himself, writing the best-selling 2001 novel, A Density of Souls.
Anne wrote several books in the following years, staying away from the vampire genre. However, the character of Lestat, her antagonist in Interview with the Vampire was constantly on her mind. Anne explains her obsession:
‘Lestat...it's hard to describe Lestat. Lestat, in a way, is my whole life, because even when I'm not writing about Lestat, I'm looking at the world through Lestat's eyes, and it's Lestat who has made me a world traveler. Lestat who's transported me out of myself, and my preoccupation with my limitations, both physical and spiritual. Lestat is more than just a created character to me. He is a symbol of some kind of freedom and dominance, and yet I never kid myself about his evil. He represents the ruthless side in us, but he's part of my thoughts night and day. And, part of my conversation night and day, I suppose. Almost everything I see, I ask myself 'What would Lestat think of this...how would Lestat react to this, so I would say that he is the other half of me, but he is the male ruthless half of me that, thank God, does not exist, except in fiction.”
Then, in 1985, Anne completed and published the second Vampire Chronicle, The Vampire Lestat. This novel gives Lestat a chance to tell his story, just as Louis has. He tells of his vampiric history and how he used his powers to become a world famous rock star. After writing this novel, Anne fell in love with Lestat and has subsequently had Lestat write many of the remaining Chronicles.
Several more years will pass before the next Vampire Chronicle is published. In 1988, the Rice’s moved back to Anne’s birth city of New Orleans. Shortly thereafter, the third Chronicle, The Queen of the Damned, was published. In this novel, Lestat ties together many events that occur between many characters, both vampire and mortal, and introduces us to many new characters. The idea for the theme of this novel came to Anne on a plane:
“I was watching one of the Star Wars movies. I think Luke Skywalker was fighting with Darth Vader, and Vader was saying, ‘Give in to the dark force inside you.’ It was horribly cliché. That’s when it came to me what Queen of the Damned ought to be. Essentially, the queen should have an extremely good idea, but it should still be evil. The real evil in the world is always a complex and seductive thing that sounds brilliant.”
In 2002, moviegoers will be able to see Queen of the Damned brought to the big screen as well. The movie, with a US release date of February 22, stars the late Aaliyah and Stuart Townsend.
In 1992 and again in 1995, two more installments of the Vampire Chronicles were published; The Tale of the Body Thief and Memnoch the Devil were published. These two novels were intended to be the end of the Vampire Chronicles, but Anne couldn’t stay away from her beloved vampires for long. In 1998, The Vampire Armand became the sixth installment in the series. The next novel, Merrick, was released in 2000, yet under tragic circumstances.
On December 14, 1998, Anne became extremely ill and went into a diabetic coma. She explains:
“When it was discovered by Stan and my assistants Brandy and Ross that I could no longer speak or move, 911 was called and I was rushed to the hospital. I think I had a blood sugar reading of 800 or thereabouts, and I came within five to fifteen minutes of dying.
I have Diabetes I, which means I'll use insulin for the rest of my life. But I have come to terms with it, much encouraged by calls from you all reminding me that Diabetes is manageable and thousands of people live with it.”
Anne recovered from her incident quickly and has last published 2001’s Blood and Gold, the most recent installment of the Vampire Chronicles. Rumors of a new novel, Blackwood Farm, are spreading. However, no official notice has been given.
Anne continues to write and is an active voice in politics. She, her husband and her son still live in the garden district in New Orleans.