Anne Rice, bestselling author of Interview with the Vampire, has died at the age of 80.
The son of the Gothic novelist, Christopher Rice, said in a statement Sunday morning that Rice had “passed away due to complications from a stroke,” adding: “The immensity of our family’s grief cannot be overstated.”
Rice wrote more than 30 books, but was best known for her debut novel, Interview with the Vampire, which introduced the world to the saga of the vampire Lestat and was carried over from 18th-century Louisiana over the next 200 years. Released in 1976, it was made into a film in 1994, starring Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and a young Kirsten Dunst, whom Lestat turns into a vampire. Audrey Niffenegger described it as Rice’s “masterpiece.”
Rice wrote 12 other novels in the Vampire Chronicles series, and scorned the glossy, vegetarian version of vampires that became popular in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, saying that she felt “sorry for vampires that shine in the sun,” and that Lestat “would never hurt the immortals who choose to spend eternity going to high school over and over again in a small town.”
Horror legend Ramsey Campbell said that Rice wrote “in the great tradition of the Gothic, both thematically and in his prose.” “I’d say it’s a specifically female lineage that runs from classic Goths but particularly from Mary Shelley, in her humanization of the monster and the way she gives it a fully literate voice,” Campbell said.
Successful horror author Sarah Pinborough, whose Behind Her Eyes was recently adapted for Netflix, praised how Rice had transformed the genre. “I’ve had a fascination with vampires since early childhood and when I came across Rice’s work I loved how she took that genre and created such a vivid world and characters within it and more importantly made them feel so contemporary and relevant, “he said. Pinborough.
Rice was also known for her erotic fiction series Sleeping Beauty and for her novels about the life of Christ and the angels. Written after returning to the Catholic faith of her childhood in 1998, after decades of atheism, Rice said at the time that she “consecrated her writings completely to Christ, promising to write for or about Him.”
But later he “abandoned” Christianity, writing on his Facebook page: “In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be artificial contraceptives. I refuse to be anti-democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I left Christianity and I stopped being a Christian. Amen.”
Rice’s husband, the poet Stan Rice, died in 2002. In addition to Christopher, the couple had a daughter, Michele, who died of leukemia in 1972 at the age of six. Rice began writing years after her death, telling The Guardian in 2010: “It was really a desperate attempt to be someone. I looked around after my daughter’s death and realized that I was nothing and no one. She wasn’t even a mother anymore. I have nothing. “Interview with the Vampire was published in 1976 and Christopher, who is also a writer, was born two years later.
She said her mother “taught me to challenge the boundaries of gender and surrender to my obsessive passions.”
“In his final hours, I sat by his hospital bed in awe of his accomplishments and courage, awash with memories of a life that took us from the mist-shrouded hills of the San Francisco Bay area to the magical streets of New Orleans for the sparkling views of Southern California, ”he added.
“As she kissed Anne goodbye, her younger sister Karen said, ‘What a trip you took us on, boy.’ I think we can all agree. Let us take comfort in the shared hope that Anne is now experiencing firsthand the glorious answers to many great spiritual and cosmic questions, the pursuit of which defined her life and career. “
He added that a public celebration of Rice’s life would be held next year in New Orleans, where the author was born and raised.