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Anne Rice

Born on October 4, 1941, in New Orleans, Louisiana: Howard Allen O'Brien, a child who hated her name so much that she changed it to Anne upon entering first grade.  Rice's father was a postal worker who liked to write fiction in his free time.  Her mother was an unsuccessful Hollywood actress who had a morbid fascination with the occult.  She frequently took her daughter on outings through old New Orleans, stopping to point out the various houses and decaying old mansions she claimed were once the province of witches, warlocks, and demons.  

As young Anne grew older, she found herself wandering around cemeteries, reading the inscriptions on tombstones, watching horror movies, and devouring every ghost story she could find.  This made the nuns at the Catholic school she attended uneasy, but Rice persisted despite warnings from her superiors.

She married Stan Rice in 1961 and five years later gave birth to daughter Michele.  In between being a mother and a wife, she struggled to become a successful writer.  She wrote a short story a day as an exercise, but she had little success in getting them published.  When her five-year-old daughter was diagnosed with acute leukemia and eventually died, Rice sank into depression.  She managed to escape only by losing herself in her writing.  She started a novel, and--writing continually--finished it within five weeks.  It's the story of a vampire obsessed with the company of a five-year-old girl, whom he decides to turn into a vampire for the company she will provide.  But when he learns that she will forever remain a five-year-old trapped in a vampire's soul, he is devastated.

The novel was Interview with a Vampire (1974), one of the first to portray vampires as other-than-ghoulish figures.  In Interview, Rice's vampires all were imbued with complex characters, feelings, and even conscience.  Reviewers of the book didn't know what to make of it, and it received a lukewarm reception.  Rice decided to abandon horror and followed that up with a series of historical novels. 

In between, she published a series of erotic novels under the pseudonyms, A. N. Roquelaure and Anne Rampling.  As Anne Rampling she published two books, Exit to Eden and Belinda, the latter of which has less raw erotica than does Exit and is more of a romance involving an older man and a teenage girl. 

Under her Roquelaure pen name, she wrote the Beauty series, a trilogy of erotic works that include The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty (1983), Beauty’s Punishment (1984), and Beauty’s Release (1985), dealing with various alternative lifestyle themes.  She chose the pen name quite deliberately.  Count Rouquelaure had been a cloak designer  in the 18th century, and Rice used the name because of its meaning--"Anne under a cloak"--as well as for its erotic sound.

Following her lack of success with the publication of Interview with the Vampire, Rice noticed something unusual happening.  She had begun to develop a cult following.  The book sold steadily throughout the 1980s, eventually building in popularity to become one of the most popular vampire novels in the history of literature.  Rice finally returned to the genre with the publication of The Vampire Lestat in 1985.  Unlike its predecessor, it was an instant best seller.

Not surprisingly, most of Rice's stories unfold in New Orleans.  Today, tourists often take nighttime guided tours of the city, reveling in all of the spooky and unworldly places Rice writes about.  It's one of the city's most popular tours.

Other books in Rice's Vampire Chronicles series include The Queen of the Damned (1988) and The Vampire Armand (1998).  Her most recent novel is Blood Canticle, which was published in 2003.

Rice, who believes that supernatural and horror fiction should be accepted as serious literature, said, "Realism which is so respected today is really just a fad... There's no telling that anybody's going to be reading these little realistic novels 50 years from now, but people are still reading Faust."

Anne Rice currently lives and works in New Orleans.


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