Saturday, September 3, 2016


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.