Thursday, February 18, 2010

Interview with Anne Rice

From Pasadena Weekly --

Twice Bitten --

By Carl Kozlowski --
02/04/2010 --

Author Anne Rice has spent much of her life in a highly public and creative quest for spiritual truth, making a fortune by writing stories rooted in indelible portraits of evil with characters who guzzle blood to survive.

Today, however, Rice is turning her considerable talents in a different but somewhat similar direction, creating stories in which angels and Jesus Christ — who Scriptures tell us also rose from the dead and has followers drinking His blood, not the other way around — are the heroes.

Rice will be signing her latest novel, “Angel Time,” during a free 1 p.m. Saturday event at Vroman’s Bookstore.

The book follows contract killer Toby O’Dare, who is assigned to commit a murder but is visited by a mysterious stranger — an angel who offers him a chance to save rather than destroy lives. When he agrees to take that chance, he is whisked back to 13th-century England, an era during which children suddenly die or disappear and accusations of ritual murder are made against innocent Jews — a dark world to which O’Dare is determined to bring light.

“Both vampires and angels challenge the imagination. You have to live up to a classic concept. With angels, they’re a creature who’s a messenger of God who comes from heaven,” explains Rice, a native of New Orleans. “So you think: what’s he going to sound like when he talks, what’s he going to say? It’s exciting to me to write about angel Malchiah and make him believable to my audience.

“We have to respect what they are. Angels are messengers of God and live in the presence of God, but over and over in Hollywood movies they’re made into sad figures who want to be on earth instead of heaven. My angels want to be in heaven. It’s kind of thrilling and very similar to writing about vampires.”

In 1976, Rice reached a professional pinnacle with the release of her first novel, “Interview with the Vampire,” an extremely dark exploration of some of the very spiritual questions Rice was faced with in her life. While writing the remaining 10 books in the vampire series, which went on to sell tens of millions of copies worldwide, she also wrote three erotic novels under the pseudonym A.N. Roquelaure.

But even as she eventually came to describe herself as an atheist and enjoyed great wealth and fame, Rice said she wasn’t truly happy. In 1998, she started to rediscover her Catholic faith and in 2004 announced that she would no longer write about vampires. Instead, Rice said she devoted her writing to “what the Lord wanted.”

“The answer to why I switched is my personal conversion. I didn’t really have the same worldview after that conversion,” Rice explained in a phone interview with Pasadena Weekly from her home in Rancho Mirage, where she moved to after selling her New Orleans estate during her conversion. “I didn’t have any more tales to tell with Lestat [the main character in the vampire series] because I now saw the world through different eyes and the vampires didn’t make a connection for me.

“Vampires were people groping for faith, living through darkness, and I personally found the change those characters were looking for,” Rice adds. “I came to the end of my quest. The last two [Lestat books] reflected the split in me and were written after I’d been writing in faith.”

Despite vast wealth and a happy 41-year marriage to Stan Rice, a lifelong atheist who died in 2002, the author now wishes she had never walked away from Catholicism.

“I went through a crisis at 18. I was at a secular college campus in Texas, away from my Catholic roots and had a whole host of new influences,” Rice recalls. “I rejected the faith of my childhood as too limited. I wanted to learn what the modern world was about. I ended up styling myself as an atheist, but was really agnostic.”

Rice ultimately decided to return to Catholicism, only now with a desire to devote her work to Christ.

“There was not a specific incident that sparked my return to the Church,” Rice explains. “I’d been thinking a long time and one day I made decision to go back and realized I didn’t need answers to all the sociological questions I had. God had the answers for what was the meaning of the Holocaust or why was there a Second World War, and that was enough. That burden was not for us. It was a release to let it go but it was also intellectual. Americans tend to believe in that story, that you turn towards or against faith due to tragic loss, but that never happened for me. They’re always casting my story in those terms, but it didn’t fit.”

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