Few people don't have some idea who Anne Rice is. Sales of copies of her books approach one hundred million, making her one of the most widely read authors in modern history. Anne Rice is best known for 'The Vampire Chronicles' and the vampire characters therein. The work of Anne Rice has a rich--some critics call it baroque--gothic ambience manifesting in tales of vampires, witches and adapted mythological characters. Her work include more adult oriented books under the pen name Anne Rampling as well as explicit sado-masochistic erotica published as A.N. Roquelaure. Roquelaure's Sleeping Beauty series has found a place as minor classic in its own venue. In 2004 Anne Rice had a religious re-awakening, reverting to her Catholic roots. She put aside her vampires. Her recent books have been religious themed ones on the life of Christ.
Anne Rice was born Howard Allen O'Brien to an Irish Catholic family in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1941. The name Howard(her father's) was bestowed by her quirky bohemian mother then shed by Anne on her first day at school. At age 17, she met poet Stan Rice, the man she would later marry, living with him until his death in 2002. The couple settled in San Francisco, where Anne obtained a BA in political science from the state university. She has described herself as "totally conservative", even in heyday of Haight Ashbury in the 60s. Rice and her husband had a daughter Michele, who was born on September 21, 1966 and died of leukemia on August 5, 1972. Their son Christopher Rice, now a novelist, was born March 11, 1978.
Arguably, Anne Rice has done more to influence on the way vampires are perceived than any single individual. Only Bram Stoker compares. When Stoker presented Dracula, the image of the vampire was forever altered in western culture. In a single decade the prevailing vampire image shifted from that of a revenant or re-animated corpse to an aristocrat in evening clothes who was almost human albeit evil.
The Ricean vampires Lestat, Louis, and Akasha, like them or not, have achieved a presence as archetypes as well as literary characters. The work of Anne Rice is richly descriptive to the point of having a surreal tinge at times, a vividness that might be seen as jibing well with the heightened senses of a vampire. The internal state of her characters is the main focus. Existential, philosophical and sensual themes abound as well as a fluid sexuality that Rice has characterised as "a love beyond gender"; vampires are outside the bounds of human society and not limited by its expectations. A recurring criticism is that she puts more energy into setting a scene than to developing her plots. The vampires presented by Anne Rice are complex and ambiguous, seductive and human in their un-humaness.
Two books from the the Vampire Chronicles have been made into major motion pictures. In 1994, a movie version of Interview With the Vampire was made directed by Neil Jordan, starring Tom Cruise as Lestat, Brad Pitt as Louis and Kirsten Dunst as Claudia. It was adapted from Anne Rice's own screenplay and generally well received. In 2002 a movie adaptation of The Queen of the Damned with Stuart Townsend as Lestat and Aaliyah as Akasha
was released. The plot was considerably altered from that in the books and it was poorly received by both fans and critics.
Interview With a Penitent ~ In 1996, after spending most of her adult life as a self-described atheist, Rice returned to her Roman Catholic faith, which she had not practiced since she was 15. In October 2004, as she reaffirmed her Catholic faith, Rice announced in a Newsweek article that she would "write only for the Lord." In an interview with Christianity Today, headlined "Interview with a Penitent", Rice declared that she will never again
write another vampire novel.