Tuesday, September 13, 2016

How outlining can help

Anne posted:

I do a simple outline; just numbered scenes. The first novel I really outlined like that was a novel that I envisioned when I was in Brazil. I was staying at the Copacabana Hotel there, and I didn’t have a computer with me, and I wrote down 25 scenes for this novel. It was a great revelation to me that I could do this. That I could take that outline home and execute that novel pretty much based on those 25 scenes that I had sketched out. That did work very well for me.

After that I did outline in that informal form. But once I start writing I have to be willing to change that outline. I have to be willing to scrap it totally, and go with the surprises that come up. I’m a very intuitive writer, as well as a spontaneous writer. The story really does come alive for me. The characters too. When the surprises occur I have to throw out all preconceived notions about what was going to happen, and what should happen. 

Outlining is helpful to put your thoughts in order, even if you never look at the outline when you’re writing

Monday, September 12, 2016

Beginning a novel

For writing a novel, I begin with a concept of where I want to go and I allow myself to be surprised, and to incorporate themes as I go on; and if anything I expand the thematic life of the novel as I go on.

I may break off writing on a Tuesday and by Thursday have thought of a lot of different aspects of the scene I just wrote, and I will expand it and try to deepen it; and that means accessing some themes. Yet sometimes themes just surprise you. They work their way into your work the way characters do, and you’re surprised by how well developed these themes become.

I don’t pretend or even hope to be conscious of all the themes in my work when I finish a novel. I trust that they will have their own coherence and their own pattern, and that they will mean something.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

So how does Anne do it?

I'm often asked, how do I do it? Well, I usually start late morning. I have to be awake to write. I break for lunch and write all afternoon, and when things are rolling, I write into the evening, and maybe even late into the night. I like long uninterrupted stretches of time.

Whether or not I have those unbroken stretches, I focus on completing an episode or a chapter. I don't like to break with half a scene written. If forced to break, I start over the next day, or read over in detail, reliving before I continue.

But over the years I've had to be flexible. What has never worked for me is early morning. What has often worked is writing all night. Negotiating a compromise with the demands of the world, not just family but work demands, is key. Whenever I write, I'm living and breathing in the work as if I were inside a movie. I murmur aloud as I write. I hear each word. The rhythm of a sentence, the sound of individual syllables, all this is key. It all has to flow for me, like living water. Style is as important as any other element.

But there are no rules for all writers. I had a friend once who told me that she never started to write until she had the material thought out in her mind. Not me. I often go right along discovering as I'm writing. I never plan dialogue, ever. It has to be "happening" with me as recording secretary. "Make it happen," that could be my motto. Just reflecting on all this makes me so happy and grateful for this vocation or profession.

I'll be 75 in October; I'm sitting here now in a tiny room in a small family home, at a big beautiful Mac computer; and I'm wearing the nightgown I slept in; and I'm ready to work. Ah, it's wonderful.

Friday, September 9, 2016

More on technique

Anne with more on technique, or how I do it.

11) Never underestimate the power of the two line break. You may not want a new chapter but you want to cut away from the scene. Make the two line break.

12) Never get trapped into thinking that if you have a character open a door, he necessarily has to close it later on. You are creating a visual impression of a scene, and you don't need to spotlight every gesture. And you can cut away from a scene in progress.

13) Paragraphs again: they are the way you engineer the page for the reader. That's why I say never hesitate to make one line paragraphs and short paragraphs. You're punching action or an emotional moment when you set it off in a paragraph. And you want to make things easy for the reader. Long paragraphs always impose something of a burden. The eye longs for a break. 

14) Multiple point-of-view can be very energizing for a reader. The switch in point of view can be exciting. And multiple point-of-view gives you a chance to reveal the world in a way that single point of view cannot. Favorite multiple point-of-view novels for me are War and Peace and The Godfather.

15) A single point-of-view throughout is the best opportunity a writer has to get a reader to fall in love with a hero or heroine. The limitations are obvious; you can't go to "another part of the forest" to find out what's happening. But you have immense power in single point-of-view to get into the thoughts and feelings of your champion.

16) First Person single point-of-view can take the reader not only into deep love but deep antipathy. Great Expectations, David Copperfield and Lolita are shining examples.

17) If you find yourself becoming bored, then do what you must do to make the novel exciting again for you. Never keep building a scene because you feel you must. Think of some other way to solve the problem that is goading you to write what you don't enjoy.

18) When you feel yourself getting tired, stop and read something that is energizing. The opening pages of Stephen King's Firestarter always refresh me and send me back to the keyboard. So does reading any part of Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song." So does reading The Godfather. So does reading a Hemingway short story. 

19) Keep going. Remember that you must finish the novel for it to have a chance in this world. You absolutely must complete it. And of course as soon as I do I think of new things. I go back, refining, adding a little. And when I stop feeling the urge to do that, well, I know it's really finished.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Writing technique

Anne on writing technique or how I do it.

1) Rely heavily on concrete nouns and action verbs. Nothing conveys immediacy and excitement like the concrete noun and the action verb.

2) Rely heavily on short sentences and even fragments. Long complex sentences, especially when filled with abstract nouns slow the reader and even confuse him or her. Break up these sentences. Or balance them with short ones.

3) Don't hesitate to write one sentence paragraphs and short paragraphs in general. Never, never bury a key revelation or surprise or important physical gesture by a character at the end of an existing paragraph. Move this to a new paragraph.

4) Go easy on conjunctions such as "but," "and," "yet," and "however." The prose may feel fluid to you when you use these; but if you go back and simply remove them the prose may be even more fluid.

5) Repeat a character's name often in dialogue and in straight narrative. Don't slip into "he" or "she" for long stretches because if you do many fast readers will find themselves having to go back to determine who is speaking or feeling or viewing the action. Punch the proper names.

6)Be generous and loving with adjectives and adverbs. These words give specificity to the narrative; they make it vibrant.

7)When you repeat yourself in a novel, acknowledge it, as in "Again, he found himself thinking, as he had so often before..."

8) If the plot takes a highly improbable turn, acknowledge that through having the characters acknowledge it.

9) In writing intense action scenes, avoid slipping into "-ing" words. It may feel "immediate" to use these words, say in a sword fight, a physical brawl, or an intense confrontation, but if you stick with simple past tense, you will actually heighten the action. 

10) Remember that in writing a novel, you are crafting something that must be fully understood and experienced in one reading, yet stand up to innumerable readings in the future. 

If these "rules" or suggestions don't work for you, by all means disregard them completely! You're the boss when it comes to your writing.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Point of view

Anne on writing. You can write from the point of view of anybody: a man, a woman, a gay man, a gay woman, a person of color, a native American, an ancient Egyptian, King Solomon, anyone. Don't ever let anyone tell you that you cannot do this.

When I was writing The Feast of All Saints, a good friend told me in essence I had no right to write about people of color. Shortly after, I went to Haiti to do research for this novel, and in a hotel bar in Port-au-Prince, I ran into an American black man, and I asked him about this very question. I told him about my book. "Write it," he said. He became extremely intense. "Write it." He felt it was of the utmost importance that I give birth to the novel I was envisioning. 

Later, back home in America, I asked the same question of a famous black author at a book signing. He said the same thing. Write the story. That was good enough for me.

The bottom line is, you go where the intensity is for you as a writer; you give birth to characters for deep, complex reasons. And this should never be politicized by anyone. Your challenge is to do a fine and honest and effective job. Don't ever let anyone insist you give up without even trying.

Two of the greatest novels about women that I've ever read, Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary were written by men. One of the finest novels about men that I've ever read, The Last of the Wine, was written by a woman. That was Mary Renault. And her novel, The Persian Boy, about a Persian eunuch is a classic.

The vital literature we possess today was created by men and women of immense imagination, personal courage and personal drive. Ignore all attempts to politicize or police your imagination and your literary ambition.

Read The Feast of All Saints now.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

More on outlining

Anne with more on outlining. Outlining a novel can never for me be the complete story. I want to discover as I write. I am too much of an instinctive writer to ever trust a complete outline in advance of any novel.

What I want more than anything is a road map to get going, a sense of destination, a guide as I plunge into the messy process of discovery. So I suppose I will always be balancing the need to outline with the respect I have for the organic growth of any plot or character. Outlines have helped me most with the opening chapters, or with the concluding chapters. 

But most of the time, when I begin a novel I simply don't know enough to outline all of it. My characters have to be interacting, experiencing, talking, for me to know what really works. So my novels are never neat, never clean. They're always sloppy, and filled with twists and turns, with off the cuff observations, and trips into sensual experience. I like it that way. I like that when I read too. Much as I am thrilled by the abstract minimalist and disciplined prose of Flaubert or Hemingway, I am far more thrilled with the great sloppy genius of Dostoevsky or D. H. Lawrence.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Must we outline?

Anne on writing: I limit outlining and note taking because I don't really want to experience cathartic scenes until I write them. I don't want to drain away the intensity with note taking and dreaming about them. I want the heat to go right into the writing. So rather than describe my intentions in my hand written diaries, I often jot down the scene itself, dialogue, movement, what's happening. I don't write well from a distance. I have to be in it, feeling it, suffering it. And I'm confident that one scene has to flow from another. Overthinking can kill intensity, at least for me. The deeper philosophical or psychological meaning emerges as I write.

But again, there are no rules for all writers. A lot of ideas, scenes, developments spring into my mind while I'm reading other people's books. I have to stop, and reach for my diary. Indeed, if ideas and scenes don't come to me while I'm reading, well, I don't usually keep reading the book. Spy novels, thrillers, deeply inspire me because they always feel metaphorical to me.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Be stubborn

Anne here whether writing can be taught. Who is qualified to teach people how to be writers? Well, nobody really. And everybody.

Being a writer is highly individual, mysterious and personal. No one can make you into a writer but yourself. HOWEVER, you can be taught many things ABOUT writing. A professor of literature can bring alive an obscure classic for you, open your eyes as to how it works for the reader, and this may inspire you to experiment in your own writing in ways you haven't attempted before. 

An attentive reader can share with you what she finds interesting in your manuscript — what she finds thrilling, boring or confusing, or just plain unconvincing — and that may teach you a great deal. 

Other writers may offer advice and share personal experience; and that might help and then again it might not. What works for Stephen King or Elmore Leonard, for instance, really does not work for me. 

And whenever your risk your work in the hands of a teacher, critic, beta reader, etc. BE SURE to seek more than one opinion, many more perhaps — especially if the criticism simply doesn't ring true. Be prepared to ignore the most heartfelt rejection.

Bottom line? We make ourselves into the writers of our dreams through faith in what we love, skepticism about criticism that doesn't help, and by ignoring advice which is not productive. It gets down to individual will, doesn't it? Trust in oneself. 

I took the manuscript of Interview with the Vampire to a writers group early on. I had been invited to come. A person read aloud the first thirty pages. I then heard the members of the group weigh in. If I had taken to heart the responses of that group, I might have thrown the manuscript away. I didn't. I didn't hear anything there that helped. The thing I remember most was an utter lack of enthusiasm for the premise of the novel. "How far can she take this?" they asked. I thanked the group and I moved on. You have to do this. You cannot be at the mercy of all those who "don't get it."

When New York editors send back the work with faint praise or damning comments on genre, just ignore this and keep going. Keep seeking the editor who will "get" what you're attempting to do. Or publish on your own. 

Remember there are no "pass or fail" grades for a novel. It's an individual creative act. And it is entirely possible to encounter people who hate what you do, tell you you have no talent, people who sincerely suggest you give up on writing because you have no natural gift for it —  and to go right on past those people to become a successful internationally known writer. I know this, because I did.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Reviews?

Anne on writing. You've got to be tough. Remember: many people who read your work are quite convinced they know what is good and what is bad and that they are offering you "the truth."

Well, what they're offering you is individual response. That's it. There are all kinds of truth, all kinds of novels, all kinds of genius, all kinds of entertainment. Be strong.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Faith, stubbornness, determination, will

Anne: more on writing. I realize there is a thread that runs through all of my shared reflections on being a writer. I speak of individual faith, stubbornness, determination, will. That's because for me it has been a lonely process, and a journey of turning my back on people who told me over and over again that I would never fulfill my dreams. It has been a lonely and a rebellious path.

I was also keenly aware of my own "weirdness" from the start — that my novels broke rules, that I demanded attention for vampires waxing philosophical in the moonlight, and I demanded the same respect for protagonists in historical settings as other authors demanded for characters in their contemporary fiction. I busted genres. I refused to accept rules. 

But I respect that writers today live in a different world. Organizations of gay writers, women writers, science fiction writers, mystery writers, or thriller writers exist in which authors find community and support. I respect that writers today find it productive to offer samplings of their work online, and these writers seem fully prepared for the random responses they receive. It is a great time to be a writer. And I marvel at the variety and the ingenuity of the writers of today.

I am still a loner and always will be; but I have no complaints. I offer my experience because it is all I can offer, really. But it is not a model of what a writer's life has to be. In this profession, we write the rules and we break the rules as we choose. It is up to us to make ourselves into the writers of our dreams.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

A deep surrender

Anne on writing; what unleashes creativity in me is deep surrender to my story and my characters. I have to get into the novel with them. This means I have to open myself to my subconscious, and to the very act of ongoing imagining. It's no secret that characters do indeed come to life on the page. Our obligations as writers is to let that happen.

When I read novels, I note that an author's prose often becomes especially vivid when a particular character is on scene. It's as if that personality is so powerful for the author that the whole vision intensifies. Would that it were that way with every character. 

Novels for me always involve stretches of work that are less interesting and less fun than others. I expect this. I'm seeking to build an entire world after all, the realm in which my characters live very full lives. My vampires have their favorite cities, music, films, and they struggle in individual ways with being Children of the Night, with the need to drink blood which has become for them the supreme erotic act as well as the act essential to survival. I have to surrender to the less exciting moments as well as the white hot moments. And surrendering is a discipline. Because the conscious mind is always ready to intrude, and the conscious mind is used to feeling very important.

I tell the conscious mind to go to Hell and I keep on driving the Devil's Road with Lestat, or Louis, or Armand at the wheel.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Louis and Lestat

Anne on writing. Yes, characters do come to life on the page, the cliche is absolutely the truth.

Lestat was born for me in that way, a character in Interview with the Vampire whom I did not think was all that important. He was born as the bad guy, the bully, the bad vampire who didn't appreciate the hero's sensitivity. Louis was the hero. Louis was me. Louis was the novel. And somehow or other, as one of my friends put it: Louis was drawn vividly in black ink, but Lestat came to life in blazing color. 

Lestat was the impetus for the second novel; Lestat became the hero of a series in a way that Louis could never have been the hero. How did I go from being Louis to being Lestat? I like to think it was a process of ever deeper discovery. I can't write about characters I don't fully explore and ultimately love. I move through the world creatively by means of love affairs and obsessions, yielding to my deepest feelings rather than reason. 

For another kind of writer, the process might be wholly different.

Read Interview with the Vampire now.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Does an author have to be 100% accurate?

Anne on writing. One question raised by today's world of 360 degree internet criticism is this. Should a small inaccuracy in a book ruin the entire book for a person? If it does ruin the book, who is responsible: the author who unwittingly included the small inaccuracy, or the reader who should not allow small things to ruin the impact of an entire novel?

Case in point: a person wrote to me that the "Witching Hour" was ruined for him because Rowan and Michael, driving from San Francisco to Marin County, pay a toll on the Golden Gate Bridge when in fact, tolls at S.F. end of the bridge had been abolished a few years before the time of the scene in the novel. What do you think? I had an uncle who told me once that movies were constantly ruined for him by small inaccuracies. A saddle bag on one side of a horse in one scene, and then strapped to the other side of the horse in another. 

Myself, I tend to be swept up in movies and books and don't care much about small inaccuracies. The larger problems can ruin a movie or book for me, of course, but not small inaccuracies. But I want a beautifully crafted illusion. I want it when I read and I want it when I write. I do all I can to be perfectly accurate. But mistakes happen. 

Critics make mistakes too. They are not always accurate as to the date of an invention, or a new ball room dance, or the circulation of the codex in the ancient marketplace as opposed to the scroll -- or when a word came into common usage. 

Should authors write to mistaken reviewers and argue such small points? Or just let it go. Is this worth talking about? What serves art? What serves literature? How do you feel about mistakes? There are times when I think that the measure of a great work of fiction is how much it makes you forget the small flaws, the improbabilities. Why would I abandon Dickens' Great Expectations just because Pip, a black smith's apprentice, speaks like an educated gentleman throughout the novel? After all, he's telling the story in retrospect one might assume; why not make himself sound educated and refined from the beginning?


Monday, August 29, 2016

The book world

Anne on the book world. The biggest challenge facing any young writer is getting attention for a work sufficient to generate some word of mouth. Every year New York with all its resources publishes books for which they simply cannot get real attention. Then some book, against all odds, will suddenly take off, and everybody is left breathless trying to explain why.

Well, there is no real "why." All you can say is the public liked the premise, the style, the reading experience, something — and people started telling one another about this book, and voila, you have a success. Then come the detractors screaming that the new success is a travesty, "badly written," "a rip off," and they're offended. Meaningless. The readers have made up their minds, and they're talking about the book. And so we go on.

All this mystery about success is a good thing. No one can control what readers will love and elevate. No one can "make" a bestseller. And that gives everybody a chance.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

There may be a new Werewolf novel in the future

Anne answering questions. I do want to get back to The Wolf Gift people and their stories. But it will take time. Right now there are two novels, The Wolf Gift and The Wolves of Midwinter.  They make up a complete story on their own. No cliff hangers. And I hope they provide a satisfying read. But this is an ongoing world in my mind and there is plenty more to write. Again, I need time.

I'm already at work on a Lestat novel to follow "Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis," and perhaps when that new book is done, I can return to my beloved morphenkinder — werewolves — who reside at their glorious old mansion, Nideck Point, on the windswept northern California coast. I feel like I built that house stone by stone. I laid its floors. I built its white iron conservatory and filled it with flowers and orchard trees.

Young Reuben Golding, poet and journalist, is the hero of The Wolf Gift, an accidental werewolf who may live forever, cut off now by secrets from his mortal family as he enfolded by a new family of elder werewolves who can guide him and inspire him with their experience and their tales of their past. I'm happy when readers weigh in on Reuben and Felix and the morphenkinder clan. I spent many years exploring northern California, and I think its jagged coastline and its great shadowy redwood forests are a divine gothic milieu. The landscape is as romantic to me as the coast of England — with Mendocino County's mists and chilling winds, and the stark thrilling spectacle of trees a thousand years old. Following a narrow sun dappled road through the towering redwoods there feels supernatural to me, like following a corridor into another world. I'll get back there, back to Reuben and his dreams.

Read The Wolf Gift now.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Lestat will be back with his tribe of outcasts

From Anne: Prince Lestat is the first of my novels to rack up over 2,000 reviews on Amazon. For me, it is a reboot of the series, with a wholehearted commitment to write not just about my beloved hero, Lestat, but about Lestat and the whole tribe.

Another Prince Lestat novel is coming to be published in November and I hope there will be another Prince Lestat novel after that.

The Vampire Chronicles overall is an eccentric series that was never an organized series at all. It is the story of a tribe of outcasts, as seen through the eyes of individual members who deal with vampirism and immortality in their own ways. It's about outcasts, monsters, people society fears and rejects; it's about having incalculable power to determine your own destiny while paying a terrible price for that power. It's about moving through darkness to find light.

At times when writing these books, most of the time, actually, I feel like I'm channeling real personalities, who inhabit a world somewhere that I've been privileged to see from an omniscient perspective. I yield to Lestat when I write about him. There have been years when I couldn't see him or hear his voice. Well, he's back now and the world around him is filled with vivid detail.

Prince Lestat is available on Amazon.com.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Have you read The Wolves of Midwinter?

From Anne:  The Wolves of Midwinter was meant as a Christmas book. A kind of "Christmas at Downton Abbey" for the werewolves of Nideck Point. Well, we didn't make that clear enough in the title. Some readers couldn't quite figure why they were reading a novel about one long Christmas celebration.

But for me it made perfect sense, tying in ancient midwinter customs with the werewolves of today as they celebrate a pagan feast that has become a Christian feast. The novel amplifies The Wolf Gift. And it does take further the personal story of the hero, Reuben, young werewolf with a foot in two worlds. It's also about the deep need of the people of this earth to honor nature and its mysteries, to celebrate the changing seasons, a need so deep that it transcends religion or religious bias or "unbelief."

There is a long tradition in English literature of writing gothic ghost stories at Christmas time. That tradition gave us Dickens' Christmas Carol. I love all that...Christmas as a time when the deep dark and cold of winter open a portal to the supernatural.

Get your copy of The Wolves of Midwinter now!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The novel that was "Blood Paradise" and the promise of a new Lestat adventure

Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis flows right out of Prince Lestat. It gives me a chance to present Lestat's royal Court in the mountains of France in its full glory.

In the past the vampire tribe has tried to come together — for example, on the Night Island described in Queen of the Damned — but it has never worked out. Vampires drift away. At one point the vampires gathered in St. Elizabeth's Orphanage in New Orleans as Lestat lay comatose on the floor of the old chapel; but eventually he and they moved on. This time around, the French Court offers new hope. And into this world comes the mystery of Atlantis coupled with a grave threat to the tribe's survival. 

The novel will be published on November 29th. And by that time, perhaps I'll be well on the road to finishing yet another Lestat adventure, flowing from this one. I don't want to offer a tentative title. Titles are subject to change with me, and I need to face that fact. The original title of this new work was "Blood Paradise." But I wanted Atlantis in the title. The legend of ancient Atlantis has been an obsession with me for a long time.

(Ignore the paperback price posted on Amazon. That may be for the Large Print edition. There will be a regular paperback publication at a lower price in time. Also check out the guarantees that come with a pre-order.)

Pre-order on Amazon here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

On film rumors

Anne on Lestat's future in film. Universal Studios and Imagine Entertainment currently own the rights to the Vampire Chronicles. They are the ONLY official sources of news on this. What I know is what they've told us through the press: a screen play is in the works. Beyond that, NOTHING is known about a reboot. Nothing official. Nothing is known about possible casting. Nothing official. Myself, I ignore internet rumors as best I can. It can be heart breaking to get all excited about a potential cast pick only to find out there is nothing to the story at all.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Should an author read reviews? Here's what Anne has to say.

Anne here on authors reading reviews.

If reading reviews hurts you as a writer, then don't do it. Nobody says you have to read reviews and there are plenty of good reasons not to do anything that hurts you. Reviews are written for other readers, not for writers anyway. Myself I do read any and every review at least once.

You can't control what you "believe." A good review, a negative review, any review might ring a bell with you, teach you something, inspire you in some way. Or you can be blocked by what you read in a review. Again, you cannot control what you "believe," or what you feel.

But you are in control of your work; and your obligation, as I see it, is to write the best book that you can write according to your standards. That's what I think my readers want of me. They want me to be true to my own judgment, my own passion, my own voice. And do the best I can.

Yes, different readers will have different reactions. That's a given, especially today with 360 degree internet exposure for a book. Authors have to live with this. But you must forge ahead with courage and respect for your own passion.

I'm honored that Lestat is so real to people that they fight with me about what he would do or say on occasion. That's a wonderful thing, to have it confirmed that your character is real for people. That doesn't mean I'm not hurt when some people slam me for the choices that Lestat makes or that I make with him. Of course I'm hurt. But I keep right on going.

Again, there is no winning a perfectly happy audience. If you think there is, choose any book you positively loved by George R.R. Martin or Stephen King and read the negative reviews of that book on Amazon. 

The creation of a fictional world requires courage, stubbornness, a great quiet faith in oneself, and a ruthless on the part of the writer to protect herself from what is harmful. And again, reviews aren't written for us; they're written for other readers. We may bristle at the seeming "unfairness" of a review; but we must move on from that. 

When you do want critical feedback on your work, choose teachers or critics whom you trust for specific reasons. It is your right to be very careful in this regard. Protecting your talent and your morale are your responsibility.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The outcasts of the literary world

Anne on vampires; they are the most powerful metaphor for the outsider I ever encountered. I, a woman with no clear gender identity, strong erotic drives, great ambition, and a fractured cultural background, felt "normal" when I wrote about vampires --- intelligent outcasts who refused to accept the world's contempt as their story. I didn't inject philosophy into my vampire novels; it was just there; Lestat, Louis, Claudia, Armand...they were living breathing allegories, all crying for the right to live, to have a place in the universe. If you give all you have to your writing, if you tell all you know in every novel, you can't escape the deeper philosophical questions, meanings, possibilities.

When I came of age, nobody thought "a vampire novel" was worth that kind of commitment and depth. Genre fiction was presumed to be shallow. Same with the historical novel. I saw "Feast of All Saints" panned because it wasn't a simplistic melodrama. Nobody even knew how to classify "Cry to Heaven." But I kept giving all I had to my strange books, ignoring the denigrating labels and frankly getting downright angry about them.

Today, you don't hear those complaints so much. Seems the whole world knows you can learn a great deal about "everything" from a good episode of "Game of Thrones" and that there are profound truths in "Gone Girl." Daniel Silva packs his beautiful spy novels with deep moral concerns. Any type of novel can be a great novel. ------- What a wonderful thing to have lived long enough to see the power of labels broken, the "rules" of genre thrown to the winds, the bias of high culture ignored or stood on its head.

Of course the science fiction readers always knew these truths. In the 50's they were looking to their great writers for poetry, heart wrenching reflection on alienation --- the use of plot and setting for lofty and undeniable truths. I love being a novelist. ----------- I love being the producer, director, set designer and star of my weird, unclassifiable stories. I've grown to love being laughed at, sneered at, ridiculed, questioned as to how I, of all people, dare to write about Jesus! And you know why I love it? Because I've been lucky enough to have many, many readers over the years, readers who give each new book a chance, readers who say simply that they enjoy my books, readers who quietly "get it," wonderful readers from all walks of life --- They are priceless to me, and they are my real critics, reviewers, judges, etc. I long ago left it up to them to decide whether I was any good, or just a crackpot or a trash writer. And I just go on writing about vampires, witches, telepaths, ghosts, angels, werewolves, and yes, even Jesus --- for them and for me.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Writing for the "marketplace"

Anne on writing.

One thing I believed early on: readers have a right to pure enjoyment. If you won't give them plot, spectacle, suspense, some glamour, then don't complain if they don't want to read your work.

I found myself amongst disillusioned academic writers who felt they were "better" than those topping the bestseller lists, alienated from a public who didn't appreciate their fine small realistic psychological novels about upper middle class life and its endless small frustrations. I never had much sympathy with all that. Yes, there were crude writers atop the bestseller lists but when you took the time to read bestselling novels, you could see the skill, the passion, the relentless storytelling, the appeal.

I figured I could offer spectacle, plot, suspense and glamour -- the things I loved -- and still write a novel with depth. I took Aristotle's reflections on successful tragedy to heart; I wanted my work to have heroes, real heroes, and plenty of spectacle and plot, fine writing (the finest I could do) and to arouse pity and fear and produce catharsis.

I saw a total absence of these elements in the "better" serious fiction of America, the pedestrian realism anointed as the national literature with its "ordinary" folk in inevitable situations, striving for small insights. Understand, there was much great writing in these "better" serious "realistic" novels. But I wanted wider appeal. I have some deep constitutional aversion to elites. Yes, they may be the custodians of artistic values, but I admire and desire the art that moves "the people." After all, I am "the people." I love Elvis and Maria Callas; Jackie Susann and Charles Dickens; "Splendor in the Grass" with Natalie Wood and Lawrence Olivier's Hamlet. I read literary criticism and comic books. I crave poetry and night time soaps. I wanted my books in student backpacks and on kitchen shelves in trailers and other homes, in libraries and in drugstores. I was actually terrified of small, limited, respectable success. So I wrote big bizarre and unwieldy books in which vampires or witches talked of "souls" or "eternity."

Well, it paid off for me with the audience I love and respect and identify with. So my advice to other writers will always be: do what you want, do what you love, write the books you want to read. Never study or reflect on "the marketplace" and try to craft a fiction to meet its demands. And if you want to write for literary critics, good luck with that. I know nothing about it.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Research and writing

Anne here. I'm asked a lot about research and writing. And I've become known over the years for historical accuracy in my period fiction.

At the same time, I've heard people criticize the use of research in fiction. I once sat silent and mortified during a writing workshop while members of the group told a writer that research wasn't the way to write a novel. The novel in question was about a girl in a Russian Jewish village pre-World War I. These helpful critics actually told the writer that research wasn't creative, etc. I thought this the worst possible type of criticism and advice.

The fact is you cannot write historical fiction or use historical settings if you don't do research, and research IS highly creative and inspiring. When you go into every day life in a bygone era, you turn up all sorts of details that can inspire new stories, new characters. You cannot help but wonder how a strong courageous person in a bygone era dealt with restrictive laws and situations that we don't have today.

Research can be fun, and it can even be addicting. And the bookshelves of the world are filled with great novels by those who took the time to do research as well as write to the best of their ability.

But the bottom line is this: as a writer, you do what is good for you, you follow your own obsessions, your passions, and you go with your enthusiasms. You dive into the research that sends you rushing to the keyboard to write a new story, create a new hero, set the stage for a new drama.

Why anyone would criticize research as anti-creative I cannot imagine. The Tale of Two Cities and War and Peace are both historical novels.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

We can learn from everything and anything

Anne, with more on writing:

I came of age in a world that snubbed popular writers. I didn't. I wanted to know why people loved them. I have read Jackie Susann's novels twice. I marvel at her raw energy, her driving storytelling, and the amazing details she includes with the abandon of a primitive painter.

I'll learn from anybody--from the poems of William Butler Yeats, or the novels of Sidney Sheldon, from Dostoevsky or a television commercial for dishwashing powder that tells a whole family story in sixty seconds. I have loved analyzing television soap operas for what drives their plots; I cam away from Star Wars movies wanting to create a deep and intricate cosmology of evil as rooted in the human heart as opposed to an abstract force outside of us.

We can learn from everything and anything, as I see it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Anne on receiving bad writing advice

Anne on writing:

From the beginning, I got really bad advice on just about every aspect of writing: write about ordinary people; write about your own family; write about the day to day life of those around you; serious literature is pedestrian realism.

NONE of this works for me! I had to follow my own eccentric path, creating novels that no one could classify or explain. I craved the spectacle of historical setting, and the agony of tragic characters--rebels, outcasts, monsters.

If I'd followed all that early advice I would have been a bad novelist never really mining the white hot passion inside me. Thank heaven for me that I just couldn't do it. A serious novel in which every character is a vampire? Well, yes, I HAD to try that!

And if my career proves anything, it is that if a person fervently believes in her own vision, no matter how eccentric or weird, well, somebody else may believe in it, too.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The true secret to becoming a bestseller

Anne on writing:

It's an open secret in the book world that nobody knows what makes a bestseller. Nobody has a clue. And that's good. Writing is the most democratic of all creative fields, providing room for Franz Kafka and Fifty Shades of Grey.

Any writer who sets out to imitate bestsellers is missing the point. What makes the top of the bestseller list over and over again is complete unanticipated originality. If publishers knew what would succeed they wouldn't need us. They don't know. And usually when some surprising book comes out of nowhere to sell millions, there's a list behind it of agents and editors who turned it down thinking it didn't have a chance.

All this is great -- great for the individual writer out there struggling to mine her own obsessions, visions, dreamworlds, for the story that feels inevitable, no matter how peculiar.

Now and then a publisher foresees a greatness in a manuscript and is correct, as in the story of Gone with the Wind. But for every score like that, publishers can tell you about their abysmal failures. Again, this is all good, good for the guy in the garage office or the woman typing away on her laptop on the kitchen table -- for every writer with no inside connections, or clues as to how to "succeed" who just goes on writing.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Teacher Anne?

Anne on writing:

When I was preparing to go to college and major in journalism, with dreams of being a writer, an aunt advised me to major in elementary education, to revise my dreams, and to go for a practical job as a schoolteacher. She emphasized among other things that exceptional people, geniuses, etc., were not happy. She thought my dreams even of being a newspaper reporter were fantasy.

Decades later, that aunt was a regular at my book signings in her area. She'd appear with piles of my novels to be personalized for friends and other relatives. I was always glad to see her. I liked her. I never reminded her of that moment, the moment she advised me to shelve my dreams. It would have been unkind to do that. But I never forgot that moment either. She was a lovely and generous lady. She meant well.

But I meant well too when I completely ignored her proposal for my life, and went my own way to become a writer. (By the way, I have nothing but admiration for school teachers; I think they are undervalued and underpaid. And we need them desperately. But it wasn't the life for me. I would have been bad at it.)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Thank God for "genre fiction"

Anne on writing:

As far as I know, the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries are the ONLY time in the history of the West that people have thought high literature had to be pedestrian realism about the everyday lives of the middle class.

Imagine someone taking Shakespeare aside and saying, "Now, Will, you've never known a prince of Denmark, or a Scottish witch. Isn't it time for you to write something serious, something about what you know? Write about your hometown, Will, your family, about real people in real situations that people can relate to."

Yes, pedestrian realism has created classics like Kings Row, To Kill A Mockingbird, and The Sun Also Rises. But it is not the ONLY path to greatness in literature.

Thank God Mary Shelley pursued her man-made monster in Frankenstein and the Brontes did not stifle their larger than life Heathcliff or Mr. Rochester; and that Dickens boldly gave life to Miss Havisham in her rotting wedding gown. Thank God Poe wrote his grim metaphorical short stories and poems, and Hawthorne created Goodman Brown, and Bram Stoker gave life to Dracula. Thank God for Melville's great white whale and Conan Doyle's genius Sherlock Holmes (and Sherlock's brother Mycroft!)

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The so-called "serious fiction" bias of the seventies

Anne on writing:

When I was coming of age in the seventies, the "formula" for "serious fiction" was fixed: serious fiction had to be about average, ordinary or typical Americans of middle class background who lived predictable lives, and achieved nothing of any consequence in the novel except a small epiphany or personal psychological triumph in a world in which there were no heroes, no geniuses, no self-made movie stars, or self-made millionaires, or "greatness" of any kind.

Anything other than stories of ordinary people were considered "fantasy," or science fiction, or perhaps "romance," and decidedly of lesser value. Such genre fiction could not hope to be "mainstream." It was destined for the paperback realm only.

And those bestselling authors who wrote about the rich and famous were considered entertainers and looked down upon -- Philip Roth, Saul Bellow, John Updike, these were among the greats of "serious fiction." And they were indeed great.

But for aspiring writers like me, there was no place in such a rigid framework. For me, my fantasies were serious. I looked back for inspiration not to Henry James or Jane Austen, but to the Bronte sisters, Melville, Poe, Hawthorne, Kafka.

Since that time, genre fiction and fiction of all kinds has gone "mainstream." It's a much more interesting literary landscape today. You could say there are no rules now. But the bias is still there in favor of the "serious" novel of uneventful middle class life in which characters come to terms in small ways with "lives of quiet of desperation."

Monday, July 25, 2016

Excerpt from Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis

EW reports that Anne's 36th book will come out on November 29. Read their report here.


Proem

In my dreams, I saw a city fall into the sea. I heard the cries of thousands. It was a chorus as mighty as the wind and the waves, all those voices of the dying. I saw flames that outshone the lamps of heaven. And all the world was shaken.

I woke, in the dark, unable to leave the coffin in the vault in which I slept for fear that the setting sun would burn the young ones.

I held the root now of the great vampire vine on which I was once only another exotic blossom. And if I were cut, or bruised or burned, all the other vampires on the vine would know the pain.

Would the root itself suffer? The root thinks and feels and speaks when he wants to speak. And the root has always suffered. Only gradually had I come to realize it — how profound was the suffering of the root.

Without moving my lips, I asked him: “Amel, what was that city? Where did the dream come from?”

He gave me no answer. But I knew he was there. I could feel the warm pressure on the back of my neck that always meant he was there. He had not gone off along the many branches of the great vine to dream with another.

I saw the dying city again. I could have sworn I heard his voice crying out as the city was broken open.

“Amel, what does this mean? What is this city?”

We would lie together in the dark for an hour like this. Only then would it be safe for me to throw back the coffin lid and walk out of the crypt to see a sky beyond the windows full of safe and tiny stars. I have never taken much comfort from the stars, even though I’ve called us the children of the moon and the stars.

We are the vampires of the world, and I’ve called us many such names.

“Amel, answer me.”

Scent of satin, old wood. I like seasoned and venerable things, coffins padded for the sleep of the dead. And the close warm air around me. Why shouldn’t a vampire love such things? This is my marble vault, my place, my candles. This is the crypt beneath my castle, my home.

I thought I heard him sigh.

“Then you did see it, you did dream it too.”

“I don’t dream when you do!” he answered. He was cross. “I am not confined here while you sleep. I go where I want to go.” Was this true?

But he had seen it, and now I saw the city flashing bright again in the very midst of its destruction. Suddenly it was more terrible than I could bear. It was as if I saw the myriad souls of the dead released from their bodies rising in a vapor.

He was seeing it. I knew he was. And he had seen it when I dreamed of it.

After a while, he gave me the truth. I’d come to know the tone of his secret voice when he admitted the truth.

“I don’t know what it is,” he said. “I don’t know what it means.” His sigh again. “I don’t want to see it.”

The next night and the night after he was to say the same thing.

And when I look back on those dreams I wonder how long we might have gone on without ever knowing any of it.

Would we have been better off if we had never discovered the meaning of what we saw?

Would it have mattered?

Everything has changed for us, and yet nothing has changed at all, and the stars beyond the windows of my castle on the hill confide nothing. But then the stars never do, do they? It’s the doom of beings to read patterns in the stars, to give them names, to cherish their slowly shifting positions and clusters. But the stars never say a word.

He was telling the truth when he said he didn’t know. But the dream had struck a chord of fear in his heart. And the more I dreamed of that city falling into the sea, the more I was certain I heard his weeping.

In dreams and waking hours he and I were bound as no two others. I loved him and he loved me. And I knew then as I know now that love is the only defense we ever have against the cold meaninglessness around us — the Savage Garden with its cries and songs, and the sea, the eternal sea, ready as ever to swallow all the towers ever created by human beings to reach Heaven. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes for all things, endures all things, says the Apostle. “And the greatest of these is love….”

I believed it and I believe in the old commandment of the poet-saint who wrote hundreds of years after the Apostle: “Love and do what you will.”

Announcement tonight, ten pm, PH time

Direct from Anne's IG.


That means ten o'clock tonight, Philippine time! I cannot wait!




Adverbs are beautiful


Monday, June 27, 2016

Go where the pain is

Anne's writing advice has always been: "Go where the pain is. Go where the pleasure is." In these two posts on her Facebook page she highlights what she means by going where the pain is. It is good writing advice for everyone who longs to write.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Dispelling casting rumors

Once again, Anne Rice took to her FB page to dispel rumours percolating everywhere on the Internet about casting choices for the film version of The Vampire Lestat. So I'm still hoping it's not Jared Leto. I hope they cast another Tom... Tom Hiddleston. Here's her post.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

How Anne got her writing break



Please note that she already had her finished manuscript in hand. So fellow aspiring writers, let's continue to write, write, write!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Doughnuts

Becket posted something humorous today on Anne's FB page. He wrote:

Becket here: As the assistant to a brilliant author, I am blessed to experience rare treats. This morning, waiting in my email inbox was a priceless gem:

To: Becket
From: Anne Rice

"As the creative novel writing community residing in the brain of Anne Rice concentrates all its force on finishing a novel, massive doughnut shortages loom. Indeed, a complete lack of jelly doughnuts in particular, with powdered sugar on them, may force the creative novel writing community residing in Anne Rice's brain to fail to reach its maximum productivity, so crucial to creative growth in completing a novel in the next few days. All those who are able to provide reasonable amounts of jelly doughnuts, and doughnut holes, and maybe jelly doughnut holes even though jelly doughnuts traditionally don't have holes, are urged to bring these supplies to the area, so that the creative community can continue its feverish activity while still slipping into the kitchen zone of the upstairs area to drink coffee and eat doughnuts at will. Note the words reasonable amounts. 'Far be it from me to want to create a wasteful surplus of jelly doughnuts,' said one aspect of Anne Rice's personality as the creative community rose from the keyboard to go take a shower at 9:51 a.m. today. Fear not."

This is hilarious! And made my day as I loooove doughnuts myself. Here's some for you, Lady Anne!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Anne Rice on classic writers

Anne loves classic writers and often return to her favorites to refresh her internal image pool and learn, learn, learn from the masters of writing. Here's what she had to say of Henry James.

It is rather unfortunate that I have not read this classic, and perhaps I should add it to my reading list. I wish I live to be a hundred and fifty to read all the books on my growing list.



I have a few hardcovers of Charles Dickens's novels. I must get to reading them, too. As a child I fell in love with A Christmas Carol, believing its plot to be perfect and seamless--impossible to replicate!



Ahhh, Shakespeare! Well, I haven't read them all, but the few that I read I know are so rich one can devote a lifetime to studying Shakespeare. And as a thespian, Shakespeare has taught me to act more than any other playwright. I wish that before I leave this earth to play in all of Shakespeare's plays, bit part or main role!

Virginia Woolf... I have a volume of her works, and will get to her soon. As for Ernest Hemingway, I am in love with The Old Man and the Sea, as everyone I know who have read it is. I need to read more of his works. Incidentally, earlier today I found an article on OpenCulture.com listing Hemingway's best writing advice. They're fantastic, I think, and worthy to be checked out. So, here's to reading, and to reading the classics! Thanks, Anne, for being a lighthouse shining the path to the Masters of Storytelling!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Orlando

Anne Rice took to her Page to express her grief and outrage at the recent news of the Orlando shooting. She condemned the terrorist attack against the LGBT community, calling it an assault on all the American people, at the same time called for the nation to heal with love and unity.

Here are some snapshots of her recent posts on the terrible tragedy.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Anne reveals her inspiration for Interview

Becket, Anne's indefatigable assistant, has been posting Anne's daily musings on the craft of writing and making books. In today's post, he quotes where Anne reveals one of her inspirations for writing the modern classic Interview with the Vampire.



Join the discussion here.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A little update

Friends, I am currently reading Prism of the Night: A biography of Anne Rice by Katherine Ramsland. I feel that my personal project chronicled on this blog will be poor and a disservice if I don't read this volume. While I do have other projects with deadlines, I realize I need to take this slowly. Anne Rice is still writing, thank God! and I am still on her first book, Interview with the Vampire. She is now many miles and years ahead since that book. but I bide my time.


And so I'm afraid updates to the blog will be scant while I deal with my schedule, but I feel all is well. All is well. Anne is recovering nicely from her bout with Shingles, so our prayers are working. Let's continue sending them.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I just finished re-reading Interview

I just finished re-reading Interview with the Vampire and I have a renewed appreciation for the violent clash of its philosophies as personified by Louis, Lestat, Claudia, and Armand; as well as the beauty of the prose, and its richness in imagery. I plan to take a deep dive into the book and then I go into The Feast of All Saints, a book I am salivating for because I have never read it. It will be a while before I encounter the vampires again, as Cry to Heaven is next in line, and then the early erotica work.

Before that, here's writing advice from Anne. Becket, her dedicated assistant, posts one daily on her page. I plan to compile these, God-willing, so I can look back on them. They're all so down-to-earth and useful.


My last post was a little obsessive-compulsive on how Louis looks like. Naturally you can cast in your mind any actor or celebrity that would help you visualize and enjoy the book. Matt Bomer and Keanu Reeves are two good-looking actors who have black hair and tantalizing eyes. That's up to you.

I related to Louis the most in this novel. I think most readers do so as well. In my past I can think ex-lovers... of a Lestat, beautiful and overpowering, whom I wounded and scarred deeply, and an Armand, who has had more than a sleight-of-hand in gripping my heart. But I jump ahead.

I want to talk a bit about the room where the boy (unnamed in this book, but is actually called Daniel Molloy), interviewed Louis. In the movie, the room was rather bright and warm, and I think that's a necessary convention for film cameras to work. Too little light and you don't get quality images. But understand it was a dark room, and not until Louis switched on the overhead was there a flood of harsh, yellow light. It was a good device to strike terror into the image of Louis, beautiful though he may be, but he is not human. Not human at all.

There's been talks of a remake of the movie with Jared Leto playing Lestat as the screenwriter and director, Josh Boone, dropped less than uncanny hints on his Twitter. There's conflicting rumors that it is a remake, and so it will be titled "Interview with the Vampire" and there's some who say it will actually be a sequel, and be based more on The Vampire Lestat. Well, we'll see.

Tomorrow, let's talk about Paul.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Please accompany me

Please be my companion as I read all of Anne Rice's books. I have recently completed my hardback, first edition collection through the help of many booksellers around the world. Now I am truly ready to undertake this project of reading all of Anne's books and chronicling my relationship with them.

Let's begin with Interview with the Vampire, of course. And I want to go to the first few pages. I want to establish in our minds' eyes how Louis de Pointe du Lac looks like.

Brad Pitt makes a very handsome Louis, and make no mistake. Louis is handsome. But for those of you who want to be as close to the novel's description as possible, I provide some options.

First off, I highly recommend that you find the graphic novel Claudia's Story. It is approved by Anne herself, and so not only is the art exquisite, it is also faithful to the book's descriptions of the characters, with no regard for Pitt, Tom Cruise, or Stuart Townsend. I will say, however, that Kirsten Dunst is the perfect Claudia of that age. But let's talk about Louis first, as the boy interviewer described him.

Louis's flesh is described to be as white as the collar of his shirt, like bleached bone. Click here to check out some objects that are bleached bone white, and use your imagination to see it as Louis's skin.

Let me find photos of his fiery, green eyes. I googled, and boy, are they lovely!

Here's a page from Claudia's Story. Hot, ain't he? Now go buy the book!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Alice Cooper interviews Anne Rice on religion, vampires, Tom Cruise and pot

This interview appears on Billboard.com

Alice Cooper is a longtime fan of novelist and fellow Christian Anne Rice, whose Christ of Lord: Out of Egypt has been turned into The Young Messiah, a movie that opened this week. When the filmmakers arranged for a screening of the film for Cooper and wife Sheryl, they decided it would be fun to let the rocker interview the writer.

Read Cooper's interview with the Vampire author below.

Alice Cooper: Was Memnoch the Devil written before or after your conversion to Catholicism? Am I correct in assuming what I read about your conversion?
Anne Rice:
 Memnoch was written before I returned to the Roman Catholic Church. I think the novel reflects a Catholic upbringing, a Catholic obsession with questions of meaning, a need to explore theologies and question them stridently. I remember including every major question I had, and when Lestat rejected the entire Christian system, as it was presented to him, his decision reflected my attitude. I don't know what you read about my conversion. I can tell you that I returned to the church of my childhood in December of 1998. I gave up pondering theological absurdities and doctrines, and decided to leave it all to a higher power. I sought to go back to the fold, to the church I knew best, to the Eucharist, and I truly believed that doctrine and theology simply did not matter. What mattered was faith in God and loving God. Twelve years later I came to believe I was mistaken. Or that my approach did not work any longer for me. I left all organized religion in 2010.

Did your parents encourage your writing as a young girl?
Yes, my parents always encouraged my writing. They encouraged creativity on the part of their children in every way. My mother believed we could accomplish great things when we grew up. She told us stories of the Brontes and how they'd written under male names in order to be accepted by the literati; she filled my head with tales of Dickens and all he achieved in terms of social justice through his novels. My mother totally believed in me, and though she died when I was fourteen, I took her confidence and faith in me to heart and have all of my life. My father was a writer himself; his many rules and attitudes really did not work for me; but the fact that he was a writer, this inspired me greatly. It was a wonderful home to grow up in, filled with books and talk of the invisible and the intangible. We were as far from American materialism as one could imagine. When my first novel was published, when I received the very first copy, I flew from California to Texas in order to put that book, inscribed with love, in my father's hands.

Were you at all surprised at the success of Interview With The Vampire
I was surprised. I had hoped and dreamed of great success, but in my heart I thought the book was too weird to be very successful. I was also shocked by some of the out and out dismissal of "a vampire novel," too. It was like a whirlwind, the publication, with a huge paperback advance sale, and a huge motion picture rights purchase; but many snubbed the book and in hardcover, it was not a sales success. In paperback it became a bestseller, and after that it became an underground favorite with many. The book lived two lives big commercial attention; and then underground devotion.

I know there was an uproar in the casting of Tom Cruise as Lestat ( I personally think he stole the movie). Were you shocked at Tom's portrayal of Lestat?
Let's put it this way. I was thrilled with Tom's portrayal of Lestat. I thought he did a magnificent job. As soon as I finished watching the movie on video tape in my home (before its release) I called the great producer David Geffen at home in California and told him I loved the movie, loved what Tom had achieved, loved all of it. All my early fears were meaningless in light of Tom's passionate portrayal. Even now some 20 years from that time, when Lestat makes headlines, stills from that movie with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt are blazed across the page or the computer screen. The movie has never stopped being popular. Every day new people see that film and review it on Amazon with exuberant praise.

Would it be hard for you to write a straight up Doris Day / Rock Hudson romantic novel? Or would that be just fun for you?
I wouldn't know how. I am a highly instinctive and spontaneous writer, and all I know how to do is access my deepest obsessions and let the words flow, no matter how strange or erotic or bizarre the result may be. I can't force myself to write something in which I don't fully believe. I just can't do it.

Do you and Steven King get along? 
I don't know Stephen King at all. I've never met him or spoken to him. I wrote him a long fan letter once but never received a reply. Whenever I'm asked about his work, I praise him to the skies, and I love many of his novels. I study the novel, Firestarter whenever I'm blocked. Reading the first few pages of Firestarter helps to get me going. In the early years of his career, I think King was underrated. Later on he began to be recognized, to receive awards and to write now and then for the New York Times. I've enjoyed seeing all this. But Stephen King, to the best of my knowledge, has never commented on me or my work. This is nothing to complain about; likely he simply isn't interested. And I accept that completely. There are many writers I don't comment on, and haven't read. I admire Stephen King. I have learned a lot from his narrative style, pacing, and plotting. I wish him all the best always. He is a giant. And his success has done wonders for supernatural fiction in America.

How much did the city of New Orleans influence your writing?
It does have a dark past. I was born and grew up in New Orleans and the city and its history and legends have influenced every single thing I've ever written. I cannot imagine my novels or my career without the New Orleans influence. For me, New Orleans is unique, and surely one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I grew up loving its ante-bellum Greek Revival architecture, the Spanish architecture of the French Quarter, the majesty of the Mississippi River flowing past the city's docks, the great old oak trees that line St. Charles Avenue, and the customs and feast days of New Orleans Mardi Gras, St. Patrick's Day, St. Joseph's Day  and the warmth of its people. New Orleans was an entry port for immigrants in the 19th Century. The Irish and the Germans (my ancestors) flooded in, along with the Italians, and New Orleans became a unique melting pot with a lot of Caribbean ambience and European flavor. I love New Orleans with my whole heart.

Do you think ghosts are just demons in disguise with the intent of drawing people into the occult?
I don't believe in demons, and have little or no interest in ideas about demons. I think there is plenty of first person information on ghosts to indicate that they do manifest and always have; whether they are earth bound souls or spirits from some other place, I do not know. I keep abreast of all serious research into ghosts, and hauntings. I read the most current books I can on this research.

What was your first rock concert? (Lestat was definitely a rock star.)
Gosh, I haven't been to many at all. Before writing The Vampire Lestat in 1983, I went to an Iron Maiden concert for research. But frankly, I can't remember ever attending a rock concert for pleasure. I did attend an Elton John concert once in a stadium as his guest, but I wouldn't call that a rock concert. My romance with recorded music has happened entirely through tapes, CDs, and DVDs. And I do love rock music! I discover new voices (some of them quite old) every week or so. I embrace many, many singers.

People ask me this all the time so I get to ask you. What scares you? (other than Trump and Hillary?)
Death. The idea that we may cease to exist, the idea that we may wink out without ever knowing we're winking out, that we may cease to be without answers to all our cosmic questions and even without the answer that there is nothing. That scares me a lot. (I'm not scared of Hillary. I hope she will be the next president of the United States, with Bernie Sanders as Vice President.)

You will probably go down in history as the female Edgar Allen Poe. Do you consider that a fair comparison?
I do. That's a comforting thought. I greatly admire Edgar Allan Poe. Always have. I read him when I was a child growing up. My father who owned an expensive early tape recorder, recorded his reading of the Telltale Heart for me. But I hope I'm remembered a little more for writing about outsiders, for exploring the emotions and suffering of the outsider... a theme that embraces all of my work, including my erotica and my novels about Jesus Christ.

Did you ever use any hallucinogenics (absinthe, magic mushrooms, or whatever) during the writing of any novel?
I've never used any hallucinogenic drugs. Ever. When I was coming of age in the Haight Ashbury, I saw people all around me, including my husband, taking LSD and having remarkable and sometimes shattering experiences on it; but I never touched it. Never. I was too afraid. When I did smoke pot, I tended to have powerful emotional experiences that frightened the people around me a bit and that was enough for me. Finally I swore off pot altogether because I had a devastating experience on it in which I realized that we might die without ever knowing the answers as to why we existed. I never recovered from that experience. I wrote about it in The Vampire Lestat. Lestat has this awful experience when he is drinking wine in the inn in his home village with his friend and lover, Nicholas. He says in the novel that he "saw" suddenly that we might die without knowing the answers, and that he never recovered from it. That was directly autobiographical except it was marijuana for me.

The public loves the world of Anne Rice (dark and romantic). My wife and I named our German Shepherd Lestat. So... What's next? Remember the Lord hates a quitter. As a lyricist myself I know that writing never ends.
I was honored years ago when I heard you'd named your German Shepherd Lestat. I was thrilled. Just thrilled. You are certainly right that writing never ends. I hope I pass with a pen in my hand, writing in my diary...or at the keyboard of my computer in the midst of a story. That would be lovely. What is next for me is another novel with Lestat, as he probes deeper into the origins of the vampires and the origins of human beings, another novel about his never ending quest for meaning, and his deep acknowledgment that he will always be an outsider know matter how much he is loved. Lestat has always been obsessed with goodness, and evil, and that will continue in my next book, of course.

Your book Christ the Lord Out of Egypt was the basis for the film The Young Messiah. In the co-writing of this movie many references were used from the Bible. Was the Apocrypha also used as a source?
Actually very little of the apocrypha was used in the novel, only the legends regarding Jesus' childhood in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, which is NOT gnostic and contains legends that influenced Christian art for centuries. Nothing gnostic was used in the book whatsoever. I researched the First Century for something like ten years, off and on, probing history, archaeology, anthropology, and the bible, of course, the bible again and again and the early historians, Josephus and Philo of Alexandria. I sought to write a biblically sound and authentic novel about Jesus as a child that would bring Him alive for people, presenting a fictive day to day life for him. I wanted people to hear his laughter, smell the dust in the streets of Nazareth, to see the world in which Jesus lived; I wanted people to have a sense of Him as a real little boy, surrounded by mysteries  the Jesus whose birth was celebrated by angels singing to shepherds, the Jesus whose birth brought Magi from the East, the Jesus whose mother had been visited by an angel... The bible mattered infinitely more to me than the apocrypha.

Everyone puts their faith in something or someone. Where would you say your faith lives?
My faith lives in my novels, of course. It lives in every word I write. It lives in my novels about Jesus. Though I've moved away from institutional Christianity and organized religion  and all its theological strife my devotion to Jesus remains fierce. My faith blazes in my vampire novels, and in the Witching Hour series, and even in the erotica I've written. I believe that people are basically good as Anne Frank put it; I believe the creation is basically good and beautiful; I believe that sex is beautiful and good. I believe our capacity to love, to know pleasure, to want to live lives of meaning  all this reflects the existence of a loving and personal Creator. I dream of all things human being reconciled in our ethical institutions and moral institutions; I dream of all of us being redeemed in every way. This is why the story of the Incarnation is so important to me, the story of Jesus being born amongst us, growing up amongst us, working and sweating and struggling as we do, and dying amongst us before he rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven. I write about outsiders seeking redemption in one form or another and always will. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

16 Reasons I'm Excited for March 16

Hi, Anne!

I continue to pray for your complete healing.

Here's a list of reasons I'm excited to see The Young Messiah. It is not exhaustive, but it is representative of my love for your book.

Now I am aware that no two-hour movie can ever capture every single detail of such a rich novel, nor that it is meant to. Films and novels are two different media. And naturally Cyrus Nowrasteh would highlight some plot points he feels more important and cut out others, and there'll be infinite differences of opinions there among viewers. But that's all right. The early reviews have been encouraging, and I can't wait to settle into my seat in the cinema for the ride.

A lot has been said about little Adam's beautiful portrayal of the title role, but here's a few things from the book I'll be delighted to see if included in the film:

(in no particular order)
1. Little Salome discussing the theology of Omniscience with Yeshua. Oh, that little theologian who at a young age asks the right questions!

2. Cleopas's laugh, and cough. This is tricky, as it is easy for an actor to physically cough and laugh and think that that's all there is to Cleopas. But he is an incredibly nuanced character, and his laughing and coughing has meaning, and an unimaginative actor can overlook that and go over-the-top with the acting. So I'm crossing my fingers for Christian McKay, hoping he dug deep and mined the sharpness of Cleopas's mind and the sincerity of his heart.

3. A view of the Temple, as no one in our generation has seen its beauty as it was during Jesus' time.

4. I am hoping the cast sings the Psalms in Hebrew.

5. Elizabeth's powerful monologue about why John had to be sent to the Essenes, and the story of the murder of Zechariah.

6. Old Sarah taking on Roman soldiers with a tray of cakes.

7. Joseph telling Jonah's story during the Sabbath, and of Tobit.

8. A view of the town of Nazareth, and Joseph and Mary's home...your novels has enriched my imagination with geographic details of Judea during Christ's time, and I suspect the visuals from the film shall reinforce this.

9. The Jewish synagogue. As a Gentile, I don't think I'll ever see the inside of one in my lifetime.

10. The Great Lighthouse.

11. The episode of the strange dream.

12. When James confessed how he felt about Jesus, I cried.

13. Rabbi Sherebiah dancing in a Jewish wedding.

14. Jesus praying in the snow in the grove of trees, then running home.

15. The Levite singers in the Temple.

16. Jesus praying for the blind man in the Temple.

I received news that it'll be shown on March 16 here in the Philippines. Jesus came humbly to our world. He was and is King, but He came as a child at a very troubled time. He displayed humility. The Incarnation and His life shows it. He came when there was political turmoil in Judea, and to a poor family.

I hear that right now in the US there's a lot of political turmoil and social unrest. CNN reports the poverty line is rising. And the KKK has come out to support Trump. It's scary times. We have a lot of trouble here on our side of the globe, too, with a presidential elections coming up in May, and a lot of families subsisting on less than a dollar a day, and countless corrupt officials in the government. Thirty years ago my parents joined a street revolution called People Power, and a dictator was overthrown. Now that late dictator's son is running as vice-president. Jesus seems to have a knack for coming to our world during troubled times, and in 2016 He comes to us as a young Child, through the movie. I know many Filipinos need to see this film. If anything, I hope we learn to pray the way the young Yeshua did, with directness and simple words, and complete trust in God.

This is a Jesus I can relate to, because He is fully Human, and has embraced fully His humanity. This is a Jesus I can trust, because He asked God to tell Him who He was and what He was meant to do, questions mankind has invariably asked of a deity at one time or another throughout our lives. This is a Jesus who closely identified with the history of the Jewish people that even the first eight years of His life paralleled the struggles of the Hebrews in the Old Testament.

Thank you, Anne, for writing this book. I have not stopped talking about the movie to my friends and family, and to my limited number of followers on social media. Anne, may Christ the Lord bless you and keep you. May He make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance to look upon you and give you peace.

Love always,
Rico