In celebration of the 40th anniversary of its publication
The time is now.
We are in a small room with the vampire, face to face, as he speaksas he pours out the hypnotic, shocking, moving, and erotically charged confessions of his first two hundred years as one of the living dead. . .
He speaks quietly, plainly, even gently . . . carrying us back to the night when he departed human existence as heiryoung, romantic, cultivatedto a great Louisiana plantation, and was inducted by the radiant and sinister Lestat into the other, the "endless," life . . . learning first to sustain himself on the blood of cocks and rats caught in the raffish streets of New Orleans, then on the blood of human beings . . . to the years when, moving away from his final human ties under the tutelage of the hated yet necessary Lestat, he gradually embraces the habits, hungers, feelings of vampirism: the detachment, the hardened will, the "superior" sensual pleasures.
He carries us back to the crucial moment in a dark New Orleans street when he finds the exquisite lost young child Claudia, wanting not to hurt but to comfort her, struggling against the last residue of human feeling within him . . .
We see how Claudia in turn is made a vampireall her passion and intelligence trapped forever in the body of a small childand how they arrive at their passionate and dangerous alliance, their French Quarter life of opulence: delicate Grecian statues, Chinese vases, crystal chandeliers, a butler, a maid, a stone nymph in the hidden garden court . . . night curving into night with their vampire senses heightened to the beauty of the world, thirsting for the beauty of deatha constant stream of vulnerable strangers awaiting them below . . .
We see them joined against the envious, dangerous Lestat, embarking on a perilous search across Europe for others like themselves, desperate to discover the world they belong to, the ways of survival, to know what they are and why, where they came from, what their future can be . . .
We follow them across Austria and Transylvania, encountering their kind in forms beyond their wildest imagining . . . to Paris, where footsteps behind them, in exact rhythm with their own, steer them to the doors of the Théâtre des Vampiresthe beautiful, lewd, and febrile mime theatre whose posters of penny-dreadful vampires at once mask and reveal the horror within . . . to their meeting with the eerily magnetic Armand, who brings them, at last, into intimacy with a whole brilliant and decadent society of vampires, an intimacy that becomes sudden terror when they are compelled to confront what they have feared and fled . . .
In its unceasing flow of spellbinding storytelling, of danger and flight, of loyalty and treachery, Interview with the Vampire bears witness of a literary imagination of the first order.
About the Author
Anne Rice is the author of thirty-two books. She lives in Palm Desert, California.
Hometown:Rancho Mirage, California
Date of Birth:October 4, 1941
Place of Birth:Rancho Mirage, California
Education:B.A., San Francisco State University, 1964; M.A., 1971
Read an Excerpt
"I see" said the vampire thoughtfully, and slowly he walked across the room towards the window. For a long time he stood there against the dim light from Divisadero Street and the passing beams of traffic. The boy could see the furnishings of the room more clearly now, the round oak table, the chairs. A wash basin hung on one wall with a mirror. He set his briefcase on the table and waited.
"But how much tape do you have with you?" asked the vampire, turning now so the boy could see his profile. "Enough for the story of a life?"
"Sure, if it's a good life. Sometimes I interview as many as three or four good people a night if I'm lucky. But it has to be a good story. That's only fair, isn't it?"
"Admirably fair," the vampire answered. "I would like to tell you the story of my life, then. I would like to do that very much."
"Great," said the boy. And quickly he removed a small tape recorder from his brief case, making a check of the cassette and batteries. "I'm really anxious to hear why you believe this, why you"
"No," said the vampire abruptly. "We can't begin that way. Is your equipment ready?"
"Yes," said the boy.
"Then sit down. I'm going to turn on the overhead light."
"But I thought vampires didn't like the light," said the boy. "If you think the dark adds atmosphere" But then he stopped. The vampire was watching him with his back to the window. The boy could make out nothing of his face now, and something about the still figure there distracted him. He started to say something again but he said nothing. And then he sighed with relief when the vampire moved towards the table and reached for the overhead cord.
At once the room was flooded with a harsh yellow light. And the boy, staring up at the vampire, could not repress a gasp. His fingers danced backwards on the table to grasp the edge. "Dear God!" he whispered, and then he gazed, speechless, at the vampire.
The vampire was utterly white and smooth, as if he were sculpted from bleached bone, and his face was as seemingly inanimate as a statue, except for two brilliant green eyes that looked down at the boy intently like flames in a skull. But then the vampire smiled almost wistfully, and the smooth white substance of his face moved with the infinitely flexible but minimal lines of a cartoon. "Do you see?" he asked softly?
The boy shuddered, lifting his hand as if to shield himself from a powerful light. His eyes moved slowly over the finely tailored black coat he'd only glimpsed in the bar, the long folds of the cape, the black silk tie knotted at the throat, and the gleam of the white collar that was as white as the vampire's flesh. He stared at the vampire's full black hair, the waves that were combed back over the tips of the ears, the curls that barely touched the edge of the white collar.
"Now, do you still want the interview?" the vampire asked.
The boy's mouth was open before the sound came out. He was nodding. Then he said, "Yes."
The vampire sat down slowly opposite him and, leaning forward, said gently, confidentially, "Don't be afraid. Just start the tape."
And then he reached out over the length of the table. The boy recoiled, sweat running down the sides of his face. The vampire clamped a hand on the boy's shoulder and said, "Believe me, I won't hurt you. I want this opportunity. It's more important to me than you can realize now. I want you to begin." And he withdrew his hand and sat collected, waiting.
It took a moment for the boy to wipe his forehead and his lips with a handkerchief, to stammer that the microphone was in the machine, to press the button, to say that the machine was on.
"You weren't always a vampire, were you?" he began.
"No," answered the vampire. "I was a twenty-five-year-old man when I became a vampire, and the year was seventeen ninety-one."
The boy was startled by the preciseness of the date and he repeated it before he asked, "How did it come about?"
"There's a simple answer to that. I don't believe I want to give simple answers," said the vampire. "I think I want to tell the real story."
"Yes," the boy said quickly. He was folding his handkerchief over and over and wiping his lips now with it again.
"There was a tragedy" the vampire started. "It was my younger brother. He died." And then he stopped, so that the boy could clear his throat and wipe at his face again before stuffing the handkerchief almost impatiently into his pocket.
"It's not painful, is it?" he asked timidly.
"Does it seem so?" asked the vampire. "No." He shook his head. "It's simply that I've only told this story to one other person. And that was so long ago. No, it's not painful.
"We were living in Louisiana then. We'd received a land grant and settled two indigo plantations on the Mississippi very near New Orleans."
"Ah, that's the accent" the boy said softly.
For a moment the vampire stared blankly. "I have an accent?" He began to laugh.
And the boy, flustered, answered quickly. "I noticed it in the bar when I asked you what you did for a living. It's just a slight sharpness to the consonants, that's all. I never guessed it was French."
"It's all right," the vampire assured him. "I'm not as shocked as I pretend to be. It's only that I forget it from time to time. But let me go on."
"Please" said the boy.
"I was talking about the plantations. They had a great deal to do with it, really, my becoming a vampire. But I'll come to that. Our life there was both luxurious and primitive. And we ourselves found it extremely attractive. You see, we lived far better there than we could have ever lived in France. Perhaps the sheer wilderness of Louisiana only made it seem so, but seeming so, it was. I remember the imported furniture that cluttered the house." The vampire smiled. "And the harpsichord; that was lovely. My sister used to play it. On summer evenings, she would sit at the keys with her back to the open French windows. And I can still remember that thin, rapid music and the vision of the swamp rising beyond her, the moss-hung cypresses floating against the sky. And there were the sounds of the swamp, a chorus of creatures, the cry of the birds. I think we loved it. It made the rosewood furniture all the more precious, the music more delicate and desirable. Even when the wisteria tore the shutters off the attic windows and worked its tendrils right into the whitewashed brick in less that a year Yes, we loved it. All except my brother. I don't think I ever heard him complain of anything, but I knew how he felt. My father was dead then, and I was head of the family and I had to defend him constantly from my mother and sister. They wanted to take him visiting, and to New Orleans for parties, but he hated these things. I think he stopped going altogether before he was twelve. Prayer was what mattered to him, prayer and his leatherbound lives of the saints.
"Finally, I built him an oratory removed from the house, and he began to spend most of every day there and often the early evening. It was ironic, really. He was so different from us, so different from everyone, and I was so regular! There was nothing extraordinary about me whatsoever." The vampire smiled.
"Sometimes in the evening I would go out to him and find him in the garden near the oratory, sitting absolutely composed on a stone bench there, and I'd tell him my troubles, the difficulties I had with the slaves, how I distrusted the overseer or the weather or my brokers all the problems that made up the length and breadth of my existence. And he would always listen, making only a few comments, always sympathetic, so that when I left him I had the distinct impression he had solved everything for me. I didn't think I could deny him anything, and I vowed that no matter how it would break my heart to lose him, he could enter the priesthood when the time came. Of course, I was wrong." The vampire stopped.
For a moment the boy only gazed at him and then he started as if awakened from a deep thought, and he floundered, as if he could not find the right words. "Ah he didn't want to be a priest?" the boy asked. The vampire studied him as if trying to discern to meaning of his expression. Then he said:
"I meant that I was wrong about myself, about my not denying him anything." His eyes moved over the far wall and fixed on the panes of the window. "He began to see visions."
"Real visions?" the boy asked, but again there was hesitation, as if he were thinking of something else.
"I don't think so," the vampire answered. "It happened when he was fifteen. He was very handsome then. He had the smoothest skin and the largest blue eyes. He was robust, not thin as I am now and was then but his eyes it was as if when I looked into his eyes I was standing alone on the edge of the world on a windswept ocean beach. There was nothing but the soft roar of the waves.
What People are Saying About This
“A magnificent, compulsively readable thriller . . . Rice begins where Bram Stoker and the Hollywood versions leave off and penetrates directly to the true fascination of the myth–the education of the vampire.”—Chicago Tribune
“Unrelentingly erotic . . . sometimes beautiful, and always unforgettable.”—Washington Post
“If you surrender and go with her . . . you have surrendered to enchantment, as in a voluptuous dream.”—Boston Globe
“A chilling, thought-provoking tale, beautifully frightening, sensuous, and utterly unnerving.”—Hartford Courant