RIP Anne Rice, 1941-2021
Like many lifelong readers of all things horror, I can easily recall the moment I plucked that shiny red mass market paperback from the shelf, the embossed, silver and gold-tinged letters reading a title that would come to be universally known, would become one of the staples of a genre reaching back more than two hundred years:
Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice.
Vampire, her debut novel, would go on to sell eighty million copies worldwide, and Anne Rice, much like the (male-dominated) horror icons before her—names like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Ray Bradbury, and Clive Barker—would become a household name for horror readers across the globe.
Prior to her death on December 11, 2021, at the age of 80 years old, Rice had published more than 30 novels and sold more than 135 million books. Hollywood adapted her work for numerous film and television projects (most famously as a feature film of her iconic debut novel, directed by Neil Jordan and starring superstars Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt).
In addition to her success as a novelist, Rice was adored by her fans, known for being down-to-earth and friendly with every reader and aspiring writer she met, often treating random visitors who would show up on the doorstep of her iconic New Orleans home with warmth and humor. Reportedly, she would even take the occasional rogue visitor out for a taste of the New Orleans nightlife along with her husband, the deceased poet Stan Rice.
With the news of her recent passing, the horror writing community has shared their sorrow, and love, for the horror icon.
John Palisano, President of the Horror Writers Association: “The HWA joins the legions who mourn the loss of Anne Rice. A true titan in her field, her works have influenced several generations of readers and writers, and continue to do so.”
Andy Davidson, author of The Boatman’s Daughter: “Her influence on the gothic and horror genres is immeasurable, but so is what she meant to us all.”
Alma Katsu, author of The Hunger, and The Deep: “I’m in awe of Anne Rice. She changed the way we think about ‘monsters’ & revolutionized pop culture.”
New York Times Bestselling author S.A. Cosby: “She was a masterful writer who brought the gothic tale into the modern age.”
Tananarive Due, award-winning author of My Soul to Keep, and The Between, credits Rice with her astounding career: “An interview with her when I was still a journalist at the Miami Herald helped convince me I should follow my love of writing horror.”
Joyce Carol Oates, one of the all-time great writers in American history: “We will miss her luminous presence.”
Shaun Hamill, author of A Cosmology of Monsters: I read Anne Rice in high school and was the perfect age for Lestat and her witches. It blew my mind, a whole different way of looking at love, sin, damnation, theology. It seemed like the truth with a capital T.”
Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author: “The queen of horror has passed.”
Deborah Harkness, bestselling author of The All Souls Trilogy: “The world feels smaller and less magical without this extraordinary woman. THE WITCHING HOUR was the first novel I stayed up all night to read…Anne Rice was a force of nature.”
Recently, author Josh Malerman, who wrote the global bestseller Bird Box among many others, visited the New Orleans home of Anne Rice. Here’s what he had to say:
“I didn’t grow up reading Anne Rice. I arrived at her books as a man, way deep into a life of reading. I read two of them to [my fiancée]…and with both I couldn’t sit still. Had to pace the rooms…I realized Interview was one of the top 5, 10 horror stories ever told.
“Last week we took pictures outside two of the homes she lived/wrote in…If you haven’t read Interview since you were much younger, do so straight away. The writing itself is a masterclass.
My friend [author Sarah Read] said this: ‘I don’t want to wish her to Rest in Peace, I want to wish her exciting travels and wild adventures.’
RIP to Anne Rice, the Queen of Horror.