Interview with the Vampire | Study Guide

Anne Rice

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Interview with the Vampire | 10 Things You Didn't Know

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Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire (1976) gave rise to the extremely popular subgenre of vampire fiction, which still entrances and beguiles readers today. The novel is set as an "interview" between a reporter and Louis de Pointe du Lac, a vampire living in Louisiana. It chronicles Louis's 200-year life in the American South, painting the city of New Orleans as a gothic backdrop to his grim tale.

Although Rice did not invent the myth of the vampire, she is credited with popularizing the creatures and changing the way they've been portrayed in literature. Fans have been fascinated with the author's own life stories of spiritual exhaustion and crippling depression and how they manifest themselves in her dark fiction. The popularity of Interview with the Vampire spawned numerous sequels and also led to a 1994 film adaptation starring American actors Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise.

1. Interview with the Vampire was inspired by a disturbing dream.

Rice has said that Interview with the Vampire was written as the result of an extremely devastating, prophetic dream. Rice lost her young daughter to leukemia and recalls having a dream anticipating her death. The author wrote Interview with the Vampire immediately after this loss, including a five-year-old vampire as a character in a psychological attempt to "immortalize" her daughter. Rice explained:

I dreamed my daughter, Michelle, was dying—that there was something wrong with her blood. It was horrifying. Several months afterward, she was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia.

2. Rice wrote Interview with the Vampire in a state of utter depression.

Following the death of her daughter, Michelle, Rice went through a spell of intense depression fueled, in part, by alcohol. Rice also began writing furiously during this time, using her writing as an escape from despair. She developed obsessive-compulsive disorder as a reaction to the emotional turmoil of her loss, and she became preoccupied with cleaning her house and making sure the doors and windows were locked. Rice has described the state she wrote Interview with the Vampire in as a "white heat," which led her to complete her manuscript in only five weeks.

3. Interview with the Vampire was originally written as a short story.

Rice originally laid the groundwork for Interview with the Vampire in the 1960s. She was fascinated by the idea of what it would be like to be a vampire, and she wanted to flesh out the human element of the legendary creatures. Rice's obsession with the macabre led her to write a short story, most of which served as the beginning of the subsequently published novel. It wasn't until after the death of her daughter in 1972 that she revisited the project, aiming to turn it into a full-length book.

4. Rice hates fan fiction set in the universe of Interview with the Vampire.

Rice has taken a strong stance against fan fiction—or unlicensed spinoffs written by readers—modeled on the universe of Interview with the Vampire. She even posted a message to fans on her website, stating:

I do not allow fan fiction. The characters are copyrighted. It upsets me terribly to even think about fan fiction with my characters. I advise my readers to write your own original stories with your own characters. It is absolutely essential that you respect my wishes.

She subsequently softened her view on the subject, explaining:

I got upset about 20 years ago because I thought it would block me. However, it's been very easy to avoid reading any, so live and let live. If I were a young writer, I'd want to own my own ideas. But maybe fan fiction is a transitional phase: whatever gets you there, gets you there.

5. Rice started the "vampire craze" with Interview with the Vampire.

Vampire fiction exploded in popularity during the 1990s and early 2000s with series such as American writer Stephenie Meyer's 2005–08 Twilight series. Many critics consider Rice to have been ahead of her time and at least partially responsible for starting the vampire craze. Forbes Magazine released an interview calling her the "Warren Buffet of Vampires" and asking for her opinion on the immense popularity of the subgenre in the 21st century. Despite the comparison to successful American businessman Warren Buffet, Rice claimed, "I really have no idea. Except that the vampire as a mythical being is not nearly exhausted." She also noted that Westerns, as a genre, remained popular much longer than the vampire craze had and expressed optimism that there were still original narratives to write featuring vampires.

6. Actors in the 1994 film adaptation of Interview with the Vampire had to hang upside down for makeup application.

The 1994 film adaptation of Interview with the Vampire was quite an ordeal for the actors. To create the sickly, translucent skin of Rice's vampires, the actors were suspended upside-down for half an hour at a time. This allowed the blood to rush to their heads, making their facial veins pop out. Makeup artists then would proceed to trace the veins with various colors. This arduous process had to be repeated, as the blood would rush back from the actors' heads shortly after standing up straight.

7. Brad Pitt hated filming the adaptation of Interview with the Vampire.

Renowned actor Brad Pitt played Louis in the 1994 film adaptation of Interview with the Vampire—a role he despised filming. Pitt explained that he hated continually filming in the dark, as well as the absurdly uncomfortable makeup procedures for the film. Months into the filming process, Pitt stated he was miserable on the set. Reflecting on the experience, he explained:

I'm telling you, one day it broke me. It was like, 'Life's too short for this quality of life.' I called David Geffen, who was a good friend. He was a producer, and he'd just come to visit. I said, 'David, I can't do this anymore. I can't do it. What will it cost me to get out?' And he goes, very calmly, 'Forty million dollars.' And I go, 'OK, thank you.' It actually took the anxiety off of me. I was like, 'I've got to man up and ride this through, and that's what I'm going to do.'

8. Rice's characters ignore many classical conventions of vampirism.

The vampires in Interview with the Vampire and other works by Rice differ from classical depictions of the creatures. Vampires from the older Dracula legends immortalized by Irish author Bram Stoker are famous for their aversion to garlic and Christian symbols—such as a cross—but Rice ignores these conventions in her fiction. Rice's vampires are not parasitic, evil monsters. Instead, they spend a great deal of time contemplating the notions of good and evil from a philosophical standpoint. In addition, Rice is often credited with the trend of sexualizing vampires. Rice's vampires are usually good-looking, cosmopolitan, and often sexually promiscuous characters. This has led reviewers to view Rice's vampires as much more human than those such as the eerie, decrepit Nosferatu from the famous 1922 film of the same name by director F.W. Murnau.

9. Rice has had a tumultuous relationship with organized religion.

Throughout her life, Rice has experienced numerous spiritual transitions. Although she was raised Catholic, Rice abandoned organized religion at age 18, claiming to be an atheist. Years after the publication of Interview with the Vampire, however, she returned to the Catholicism. In 2005 Rice wrote a novel entitled Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt detailing the childhood of Christ. Even at this time, Rice claimed to disagree with certain social stances of the church, such as its rejection of same-sex marriage. In 2010 Rice expressed her discontentment with the state of organized religion and claimed to have officially "quit" the church gain. She wrote a statement claiming

For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being Christian or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to belong to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group.

10. Rice often signs books in coffins.

In keeping with her vampire aesthetic, Rice had herself carried through New Orleans in an ornate coffin. She popped out of the coffin to sign fans' copies of her novels, all as New Orleans jazz played in the background. One time, she even had a full "mock-funeral" as she was driven through the streets in a glass hearse, followed by a group of musicians.

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