Thursday, 10 October 2013 15:43

Off the Shelf With Anne Rice

By Patricia Older | News

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Some people spend their lives dreaming or talking about becoming a novelist. In the bottom drawer of their desk sits a dusty pile of papers, a manuscript of sorts, with penciled-in edits and rambling thoughts and grandiose scenes, forever a work in progress. Still others know from their earliest memories that their destiny was to be a writer. That their days would be spent picking out just the right words and stringing them together, crafting sentences that bring to life the characters, the emotions and the place creating an adventure that draws the reader in and keeps them turning page after page.

That would be New York Times best-selling author, Anne Rice, novelist of Interview with a Vampire, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt and her latest, The Wolves of Midwinter, which she will be presenting during Northshire Bookstore’s Authors in Conversation next week.

“I always knew I wanted to be a novelist,” said Rice, who has written nearly 40 novels during her career. “I remember trying to write a novel when I was five and asking my grandma to spell the words for me.”

Rice is one of America’s most read and celebrated authors; known for weaving the visible and supernatural worlds together in epic stories that entertain and challenge readers. Her books are rich tapestries of history, belief, philosophy, religion and compelling characters that examine and extend our physical world beyond the limits we perceive.

Her next big attempt at a novel was when she was 10 and then again in the seventh grade.

“I knew it was what I wanted to do,” said Rice, whose early vampire series garnered her a cult following of sorts.

While she jump-started her college career a couple of times, Rice finally enrolled in Berkley where she pursued her PhD in literature, but the calling to be a writer was still whispering in her ear.

“I decided I was going to be a novelist,” said Rice, who was born Howard Allen Frances O’Brien. She started calling herself “Anne” on her first day of school when the teacher asked her name.   

While in some interviews Rice states it was her mother’s idea to name her Howard because her mother “thought it was an interesting thing to do… and she had the idea that naming a woman Howard was going to give that woman an unusual advantage in the world,” her authorized biographer wrote that it was her father who had named her after himself.

“Thinking back to the days when his own name had been associated with girls, and perhaps in an effort to give it away, Howard named the little girl Howard Allen Frances O’Brien,” writes Katherine Ramsland in Prism of the Night.

After dropping out of college, Rice worked hard on being a novelist, without much success. She had married her high school sweetheart, Stan Rice, who went on to become an American artist and poet. They had two children—Michele, their first born who died of childhood leukemia in 1972 when she was only six-years-old; and Christopher, born in 1975 and who is now a best selling author as well.

But breaking into the literary world was difficult at first for Rice.

“It was kind of an accident,” said Rice. “I had tried realistic [novels], but they weren’t doing very well. Then I came up with the idea: What would it be like to interview a vampire?”

She was 34 when a publisher picked up her newest attempt, Interview With a Vampire, and Anne found an agent to represent her.

“If anyone would have told me it would take 14 years, I would have been devastated,” said Rice.

In another interview, she explained what drew her to try a new approach to her novels. After reading Gloria Holden’s Dracula’s Daughter, she understood even the supernatural can have comforting qualities.

“It established to me what vampires were—these elegant, tragic, sensitive people,” she said. “I was really just going with that feeling when writing Interview With a Vampire. I didn’t do a lot of research.”

Rice’s portfolio includes dozens of books including the Beauty erotica series, mainstream romance and Christian, after re-discovering her Catholic roots.

“I believe [Christ the Lord:] Road to Cana is my best [novel],” said Rice, adding that the novels were a “huge challenge.”

“Those are the best two novels ever put together,” said Rice, adding Road is “a very special type of novel—short and very intense.”

Noting that she loves to experiment with her writing style—as evidenced by the breadth of her genres—she said she loves her newest adventure, the Wolf series—The Wolf Gift and The Wolves of Midwinter­.

“It is a much faster pace and a more modern style than Interview,” said Rice. “I love being able to bring my Gothic motif into the 21st century. It was a lot of fun.”

The Wolves of Midwinter is as lush and romantic in detail and atmosphere as it is sleek and steely in storytelling. It is a complex and emotional tale of man transformed into a man/wolf creature who struggles to understand the changes that has happened to him and how he can use his powers to help those around him.

As for the first time she heard she had made the New York Times Best Seller List, Rice said she was ecstatic at the news.

“Someone called me and told me,” said Rice. “The first time, it was for a paperback, but the second time it was for a hard cover and that was very exciting.”

Her son, Christopher, who also has a new novel out—Heaven’s Rise—will also be at the Off the Shelf: Authors in Conversation with Joe Donahue on Thursday, October 17 at 7 p.m. He has had four New York Times Best Sellers.

“We read one another’s manuscripts, but we don’t collaborate,” she continued. “It is going to be a lot of fun to be [at the Discussion] with him.”

Rice said she has no plans to stop writing.

“I always knew I wanted to write, to be a novelist, it is what I love doing.”

Presented by Northshire Bookstore, Off the Shelf With Anne Rice, with special guest Christopher Rice is Thursday, October 17 at 7 p.m. in the Saratoga Ballroom at the Saratoga Hilton, 534 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $30 for one seat and one copy of Rice’s “The Wolves of Midwinter”, or $37.50 for two seats and one copy of the book. Tickets are available at either Northshire Bookstore location (Saratoga Springs or Manchester Center, Vermont), or online at northshire.com. Tickets can also be purchased by phone at (518) 682-4200 or (855) 339-5990. 

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