Written by Staff Writer at CNN
Angry vampires, powerful Queen Esthers and gruesome bloodsuckers, a presidential ghost, and six hookers.
Such was the focus of Anne Rice’s lifetime of creation, as evidenced by the cover of her 1959 debut novel, “Interview with the Vampire.”
The New Orleans native has died, according to statements released Tuesday on behalf of her son Christopher Rice and her grandson Matthew Rice. She was 79.
Rice was born in 1946 in Metairie, Louisiana.
Her first novel, a novel about vampire Samuel L. Jackson, became one of the earliest horror titles, spawning a boom in vampire books and films of its own.
In the ’60s and ’70s, Rice wrote her own screenplay for “Interview with the Vampire” and adapted her 1992 novel “The Vampire Lestat” for a film starring Brad Pitt. “The Vampire Lestat” was later turned into a series of movies.
Rice, who said she faced “extreme rejection” at school when she was a child, worked as a teaching assistant, secretary and secretary of a movie theater to support herself.
When she was 14, she became the niece of Hollywood starlet Doris Day.
“She spent most of her time with me taking care of the front office, clipping the news stories on to our bulletin boards, memorizing the best limericks, the one about the prostitute who has her boyfriend killed by a crazed horse, and the one about a glamorous yet shy woman who, when her handsome fireman lover weds a superficial hippie, quickly marries him and commits suicide,” Rice told CNN.
It was during this time that she met and fell in love with her lifelong friend, actor John Forsythe.
She said she began writing “Interview with the Vampire” after Forsythe mentioned in passing that he had read one of her favorite books.
Rice was writing both fiction and poetry when she was 11, but it wasn’t until she was 23 that she began to write regularly.
By 31, she had published eight novels, including “Doctor Faustus,” “The Rose and the Rock” and “The Midnight Sea.”
“I found myself writing until I could barely type anymore and my husband would roll his eyes,” Rice wrote in an essay in 2000. “I eventually stopped.”
Rice had been living in Memphis, Tennessee, where she raised four sons. Her one daughter, Danielle, died of cancer at the age of 2.
In 1992, she published her final novel, “A God in Ruins,” about the backwoods of Louisiana in the 1950s.
In an interview with CNN, Rice said that while she was writing books, she became a full-time poet and wife. She married her second husband, author Michael Stevens, in 1965.
“My life was very narrow and I was really busy,” she said. “I kind of stopped writing when the children started school and I couldn’t write for those children.”
In her later years, Rice would spend some time writing poetry, another love of hers. She began writing poems in 1989 to protect her children from the toll of reading her books, she said.
“The hardest thing I think I’ve done is my whole life was just falling in love with poetry,” she said. “They love (the poetry), and it actually is a kind of escapism for them.”
In 2003, she published a collection of her poetry, “Goodnight, My Mussolini.”
In 2013, Rice was hospitalized following a fall and underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor.