The Vampire Armand finished with a tantalizing moment - The Vampire Lestat rising from the dead in present-day New Orleans to walk again among Anne Rice's unforgettable undead. Now Lestat lives again in a twilight world of music and memory.
In this dazzling new volume of the Vampire Chronicles it is Lestat's charismatic friend and coeval Louis de Pointe du Lac (originating in eighteenth-century France and Interview with the Vampire and now at home in present-day New Orleans) who takes centre stage, tortured by the memory of the child vampire Claudia, whom he loved and lost.
With the help of David Talbot, ultimate fixer from the secret Talamasca organization, Louis appeals to Merrick, the beautiful daughter of the New Orleans Mayfair clan - from the wrong side of the tracks. To save Louis' sanity, Merrick must use her black witchcraft to call up the ghost of Claudia - however dangerous this may be. But there are other spirits who will not lie still, and her search takes her close to the edge, through blood and terror, voodoo and violence.
Sweeping from New Orleans to the Brazilian jungle, this is vampire literature at its most thrilling, seductive and superb.
About the Author
Anne Rice is the author of twenty-one previous books. She lives in New Orleans with her husband, the poet and painter Stan Rice.
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
My name is David Talbot.
Do any of you remember me as the Superior General of the Talamasca, the Order of psychic detectives whose motto was "We watch and we are always here"?
It has a charm, doesn't it, that motto?
The Talamasca has existed for over a thousand years.
I don't know how the Order began. I don't really know all the secrets of the Order. I do know however that I served it most of my mortal life.
It was in the Talamasca Motherhouse in England that the Vampire Lestat first made himself known to me. He came into my study one winter night and caught me quite unawares.
I learnt very quickly that it was one thing to read and write about the supernatural and quite another to see it with your own eyes.
But that was a long time ago.
I'm in another physical body now.
And that physical body has been transformed by Lestat's powerful vampiric blood.
I'm among the most dangerous of the vampires, and one of the most trusted. Even the wary vampire Armand revealed to me the story of his life. Perhaps you've read the biography of Armand which I released into the world.
When that story ended, Lestat had wakened from a long sleep in New Orleans to listen to some very beautiful and seductive music.
It was music that lulled him back again into unbroken silence as he retreated once more to a convent building to lie upon a dusty marble floor.
There were many vampires then in the city of New Orleans -- vagabonds, rogues, foolish young ones who had come to catch a glimpse of Lestat in his seeming helplessness. They menaced the mortal population. They annoyed the elders among us who wanted visibility and the right to hunt in peace.
All those invaders are gone now.
Some were destroyed, others merely frightened. And the elders who had come to offer some solace to the sleeping Lestat have gone their separate ways.
As this story begins, only three of us remain in New Orleans. And we three are the sleeping Lestat, and his two faithful fledglings -- Louis de Pointe du Lac, and I, David Talbot, the author of this tale.
"Why do you ask me to do this thing?"
She sat across the marble table from me, her back to the open doors of the cafÈ.
I struck her as a wonder. But my requests had distracted her. She no longer stared at me, so much as she looked into my eyes.
She was tall, and had kept her dark-brown hair loose and long all her life, save for a leather barrette such as she wore now, which held only her forelocks behind her head to flow down her back. She wore gold hoops dangling from her small earlobes, and her soft white summer clothes had a gypsy flare to them, perhaps because of the red scarf tied around the waist of her full cotton skirt.
"And to do such a thing for such a being?" she asked warmly, not angry with me, no, but so moved that she could not conceal it, even with her smooth compelling voice. "To bring up a spirit that may be filled with anger and a desire for vengeance, to do this, you ask me, -- for Louis de Pointe du Lac, one who is already beyond life himself?"
"Who else can I ask, Merrick?" I answered. "Who else can do such a thing?" I pronounced her name simply, in the American style, though years ago when we'd first met, she had spelled it Merrique and pronounced it with the slight touch of her old French.
There was a rough sound from the kitchen door, the creak of neglected hinges. A wraith of a waiter in a soiled apron appeared at our side, his feet scratching against the dusty flagstones of the floor.
"Rum," she said. "St. James. Bring a bottle of it."
He murmured something which even with my vampiric hearing I did not bother to catch. And away he shuffled, leaving us alone again in the dimly lighted room, with all its long doors thrown open to the Rue St. Anne.
It was vintage New Orleans, the little establishment. Overhead fans churned lazily, and the floor had not been cleaned in a hundred years.
The twilight was softly fading, the air filled with the fragrances of the Quarter and the sweetness of spring. What a kind miracle it was that she had chosen such a place, and that it was so strangely deserted on such a divine evening as this.
Her gaze was steady but never anything but soft.
"Louis de Pointe du Lac would see a ghost now," she said, musing, "as if his suffering isn't enough."
Not only were her words sympathetic, but also her low and confidential tone. She felt pity for him.
"Oh, yes," she said without allowing me to speak. "I pity him, and I know how badly he wants to see the face of this dead child vampire whom he loved so much." She raised her eyebrows thoughtfully. "You come with names which are all but legend. You come out of secrecy, you come out of a miracle, and you come close, and with a request."
"Do it, then, Merrick, if it doesn't harm you," I said. "I'm not here to bring harm to you. God in Heaven help me. Surely you know as much."
"And what of harm coming to your Louis?" she asked, her words spoken slowly as she pondered. "A ghost can speak dreadful things to those who call it, and this is the ghost of a monster child who died by violence. You ask a potent and terrible thing."
I nodded. All she said was true.
"Louis is a being obsessed," I said. "It's taken years for his obsession to obliterate all reason. Now he thinks of nothing else."
"And what if I do bring her up out of the dead? You think there will be a resolution to the pain of either one?"
"I don't hope for that. I don't know. But anything is preferable to the pain Louis suffers now. Of course I have no right to ask this of you, no right to come to you at all.
"Yet we're all entangled -- the Talamasca and Louis and I. And the Vampire Lestat as well. It was from the very bosom of the Talamasca that Louis de Pointe du Lac heard a story of the ghost of Claudia. It was to one of our own, a woman named Jesse Reeves -- you'll find her in the archives -- that this ghost of Claudia supposedly first appeared."
"Yes, I know the story," said Merrick. "It happened in the Rue Royale. You sent Jesse Reeves to investigate the vampires. And Jesse Reeves came back with a handful of treasures that were proof enough that a child named Claudia, an immortal child, had once lived in the flat."
"Quite right," I answered. "I was wrong to send Jesse. Jesse was too young. Jesse was never -- ." It was difficult for me to finish. "Jesse was never quite as clever as you."
"People read it among Lestat's published tales and think it's fancy," she said, musing, thinking, "all that about a diary, a rosary, wasn't it, and an old doll. And we have those things, don't we? They're in the vault in England. We didn't have a Louisiana Motherhouse in those days. You put them in the vault yourself."
"Can you do it?" I asked. "Will you do it? That's more to the point. I have no doubt that you can."
She wasn't ready to answer. But we had made a great beginning here, she and I.
Oh, how I had missed her! This was more tantalizing than I'd ever expected, to be locked once more in conversation with her. And with pleasure I doted upon the changes in her: that her French accent was completely gone now and that she sounded almost British, and that from her long years of study overseas. She'd spent some of those years in England with me.
"You know that Louis saw you," I said gently. "You know that he sent me to ask you. You know that he knew of your powers from the warning he caught from your eyes?"
She didn't respond.
"'I've seen a true witch,' he said when he came to me. 'She wasn't afraid of me. She said she'd call up the dead to defend herself if I didn't leave her alone.'"
She nodded, regarding me with great seriousness.
"Yes, all that's the truth," she answered under her breath. "He crossed my path, you might say." She was mulling it over. "But I've seen Louis de Pointe du Lac many a time. I was a child when I first saw him, and now you and I speak of this for the first time."
I was quite amazed. I should have known she would surprise me at once.
I admired her immensely. I couldn't disguise it. I loved the simplicity of her appearance, her white cotton scoop neck blouse with its simple short sleeves and the necklace of black beads around her neck.
Looking into her green eyes, I was suddenly overcome with shame for what I'd done, revealing myself to her. Louis had not forced me to approach her. I had done this of my own accord. But I don't intend to begin this narrative by dwelling on that shame.
Let me say only that we'd been more than simple companions in the Talamasca together. We'd been mentor and pupil, I and she, and almost lovers, once, for a brief while. Such a brief while.
She'd come as a girl to us, a vagrant descendant of the clan of the Mayfairs, out of an African American branch of that family, coming down from white witches she scarcely knew, an octoroon of exceptional beauty, a barefoot child when she wandered into the Motherhouse in Louisiana, when she said, "I've heard of you people, I need you. I can see things. I can speak with the dead."
That had been over twenty years ago, it seemed to me now.
I'd been the Superior General of the London Chapter of our Order, settled into the life of a gentlemanly administrator, with all the comforts and drawbacks of routine. A telephone call had wakened me in the night. It had been from my friend and fellow scholar, Aaron Lightner.
"David," he'd said, "you have to come. This is the genuine article. This is a witch of such power I've no words to describe it. David, you must comeÖ"
There was no one in those days whom I respected any more deeply than Aaron Lightner. I've loved three beings in all my years, both as human and vampire. Aaron Lightner was one of them. Another was, and is, the Vampire Lestat. The Vampire Lestat brought me miracles with his love, and broke my mortal life forever. The Vampire Lestat made me immortal and uncommonly strong for it, a nonpareil among the vampires.
As for the third, it was Merrick Mayfair, though Merrick I had tried my damndest to forget.
But we are speaking of Aaron, my old friend Aaron with his wavy white hair, quick gray eyes, and his penchant for southern blue-and-white-striped seersucker suits. We are speaking of her, of the long ago child Merrick, who seemed as exotic as the lush tropical flora and fauna of her home.
"All right, old fellow, I'm coming, but couldn't this have waited till morning?" I remembered my stodginess and Aaron's good-natured laughter.
"David, what's happened to you, old man?" he'd responded. "Don't tell me what you're doing now, David. Let me tell you. You fell asleep while reading some nineteenth-century book on ghosts, something evocative and comforting. Let me guess. The author's Sabine Baring-Gould. You haven't been out of the Motherhouse in six months, have you? Not even for a luncheon in town. Don't deny it, David, you live as if your life's finished."
I had laughed. Aaron spoke with such a gentle voice. It wasn't Sabine Baring-Gould I'd been reading, but it might have been. I think it had been a supernatural tale by Algenon Blackwood. And Aaron had been right about the length of time since I'd stepped outside of our sanctified walls.
"Where's your passion, David? Where's your commitment?" Aaron had pressed. "David, the child's a witch. Do you think I use such words lightly? Forget the family name for a moment and all we know about them. This is something that would astound even our Mayfairs, though she'll never be known to them if I have my say in matters. David, this child can summon spirits. Open your Bible and turn to the Book of Samuel. This is the Witch of Endor. And you're being as cranky as the spirit of Samuel when the witch raised him from his sleep. Get out of bed and cross the Atlantic. I need you here now."
The Witch of Endor. I didn't need to consult my Bible. Every member of the Talamasca knew that story only too well.
King Saul, in fear of the might of the Philistines, goes, before the dreaded battle, to "a woman with a familiar spirit" and asks that she raise Samuel the Prophet from the dead. "Why has thou disquieted me, to bring me up?" demands the ghostly prophet, and in short order he predicts that King Saul and both his sons will join him in death on the following day.
The Witch of Endor. And so I had always thought of Merrick, no matter how close to her I'd become later on. She was Merrick Mayfair, the Witch of Endor. At times I'd addressed her as such in semi-official memos and often in brief notes.
In the beginning, she'd been a tender marvel. I had heeded Aaron's summons, packing, flying to Louisiana, and setting foot for the first time in Oak Haven, the splendid plantation home which had become our refuge outside of New Orleans, on the old River Road.
What a dreamy event it had been. On the plane I had read my Old Testament: King Saul's sons had been slain in battle. Saul had fallen on his sword. Was I superstitious after all? My life I'd given to the Talamasca, but even before I'd begun my apprenticeship I'd seen and commanded spirits on my own. They weren't ghosts, you understand. They were nameless, never corporeal, and wound up for me with the names and rituals of Brazilian Candomble magic, in which I'd plunged so recklessly in my youth.
But I'd let that power grow cold inside me as scholarship and devotion to others claimed me. I had abandoned the mysteries of Brazil for the equally wondrous world of archives, relics, libraries, organization, and tutelage, lulling others into dusty reverence for our methods and our careful ways. The Talamasca was so vast, so old, so loving in its embrace. Even Aaron had no clue as to my old powers, not in those days, though many a mind was open to his psychic sensibility. I would know the girl for what she was.
It had been raining when we reached the Motherhouse, our car plunging into the long avenue of giant oaks that led from the levee road to the immense double doors. How green had been this world even in darkness, with twisted oak branches dipping into the high grass. I think the long gray streaks of Spanish moss touched the roof of the car.
The electric power had gone out that night with the storm, they told me.
"Rather charming," Aaron had said as he greeted me. He'd been white-haired already by then, the consummate older gentleman, eternally good-natured, almost sweet. "Lets you see things as they were in the old days, don't you think?"
Only oil lamps and candles illuminated the large square rooms. I had seen the flicker in the fanlight above the entranceway as we approached. Lanterns swayed in the wind in the deep galleries that wrapped the great square house about on its first and second floors.
Before entering, I had taken my time, rain or no rain, to inspect this marvelous tropical mansion, impressed with its simple pillars. Once there had been sugarcane for miles all around it; out back beyond the flower beds, still vaguely colored in the downpour, were weathered outbuildings where once slaves had lived.
She came down barefoot to meet me, in a lavender dress covered with pink flowers, scarcely the witch at all.
Her eyes couldn't have been more mysterious had she worn the kohl of a Hindu princess to set off the color. One saw the green of the iris, and the dark circle around it, as well as the black pupil within. A marvelous eye, all the more vivid due to her light-tan creamy skin. Her hair had been brushed back from her forehead, and her slender hands merely hung at her sides. How at ease she'd seemed in the first moments.
"David Talbot," she had said to me almost formally. I'd been enchanted by the confidence in her soft voice.
They couldn't break her of the barefoot habit. It had been dreadfully enticing, those bare feet on the wool carpet. She'd grown up in the country, I thought, but no, they said, it was merely in an old tumbledown part of New Orleans where there were no sidewalks anymore and the weather-beaten houses were neglected and the blossoming and poisonous oleander grew as big as trees.
She had lived there with her godmother, Great Nananne, the witch who'd taught her all the things that she knew. Her mother, a powerful seer, known to me then only by the mysterious name of Cold Sandra, had been in love with an explorer. There was no father of memory. She'd never gone to a real school.
"Merrick Mayfair," I'd said warmly. I took her in my arms.
She had been tall for her fourteen years, with beautifully shaped breasts quite natural under her simple cotton shift, and her soft dry hair had been loose down her back. She might have been a Spanish beauty to anyone outside of this bizarre part of the Southland, where the history of the slaves and their free descendants was so full of complex alliances and erotic romance. But any New Orleanean could see African blood in her by the lovely cafÈ au lait of her skin.
Sure enough, when I poured the cream into the thick chicory coffee that they gave me, I understood those words.
"All my people are colored," she said, with the French in her voice then. "Those that pass for white leave and go north. That's been happening forever. They don't want Great Nananne to visit. They don't want anyone to know. I could pass for white. But what about the family? What about all that's been handed down? I would never leave Great Nananne. I came here 'cause she told me to come."
She had a temptress's poise as she sat there, small in the great winged chair of oxblood leather, a tiny tantalizing gold chain around her ankle, another with a small diamond-studded cross around her neck.
"See these pictures?" She said invitingly. She had them in a shoe box which rested in her lap. "There's no witchcraft in them. You can look as you please."
She laid them out on the table for me, daguerreotypes -- stark clear photographs on glass, each one fitted into a crumbling little case of gutter perche, heavily embossed with rings of flowers or grapevines, many of which could be closed and clasped shut like little books.
"They come from the 1840s," she said, "and they're all our people. One of our own took these pictures. He was known for taking portraits. They loved him. He left some stories -- I know where they are. They're all written with beautiful handwriting. They're in a box in the attic of Great Nananne's house."
She had moved to the edge of the chair, her knees poking out from under her skimpy hem. Her hair made a big mass of shadows behind her. Her hairline was clean and her forehead smooth and beautiful. Though the night had been only cool, there was a fire in the fireplace, and the room, with its shelves of books and its random Grecian sculptures, had been fragrant and comfortable, conducive to a spell.
Aaron had been watching her proudly, yet full of concern.
"See, these are all my people from the old days." She might have been laying out a deck of cards. The flash of the shadows was lovely on her oval face and the distinct bones of her cheeks. "You see, they kept together. But as I said, the ones that could pass are long gone. Look what they gave up, just think of it, so much history. See this?"
I studied the small picture, glinting in the light of the oil lamp.
"This is Lucy Nancy Marie Mayfair, she was the daughter of a white man, but we never knew much about him. All along there would be white men. Always white men. What these women did for white men. My mother went to South America with a white man. I went with them. I remember the jungles." Had she hesitated, picking up something from my thoughts, perhaps, or merely my doting face?
I would never forget my own early years of exploration in the Amazon. I suppose I didn't want to forget, though nothing had made me more painfully conscious of my old age than to think of those adventures with gun and camera, lived on the bottom side of the world. I never dreamt then that I would return to uncharted jungles with her.
I had stared again at the old glass daguerreotypes. Not a one among any of these individuals looked anything but rich -- top hats and full taffeta skirts against studio backdrops of drapery and lavish plants. Here was a young woman beautiful as Merrick was now, sitting so prim and upright, in a high-backed Gothic chair. How to explain the remarkably clear evidence of African blood in so many of them? It seemed no more in some than an uncommon brightness of the eye against a darkened Caucasian face, yet it was there.
"Here, this is the oldest," she said, "this is Angelique Marybelle Mayfair." A stately woman, dark hair parted in the middle, ornate shawl covering her shoulders and full sleeves. In her fingers she clasped a barely visible pair of spectacles and a folded fan.
"She's the oldest and finest picture that I have. She was a secret witch, that's what they told me. There's secret witches and witches people come to. She was the secret kind, but she was smart. They say she was lovers with a white Mayfair who lived in the Garden District, and he was by blood her own nephew. I come down from her and from him. Oncle Julien, that was his name. He let his colored cousins call him Oncle Julien, instead of Monsieur Julien, the way the other white men might have done."
Aaron had tensed but sought to hide it. Perhaps he could hide it from her, but not from me.
So he's told her nothing of that dangerous Mayfair family. They haven't spoken of it -- the dreadful Garden District Mayfairs, a tribe with supernatural powers, whom he had investigated for years. Our files on the Mayfairs went back for centuries. Members of our Order had died at the hands of the Mayfair Witches, as we were wont to call them. But this child mustn't know about them through us, I had realized quite suddenly, at least not until Aaron had made up his mind that such an intervention would serve the good of both parties, and do no harm.
As it was, such a time never came to pass. Merrick's life was complete and separate from that of the white Mayfairs. There is nothing of their story in these pages that I now write.
But on that long ago evening, Aaron and I had sought rather desperately to make our minds blank for the little witch who sat before us.
I don't remember whether or not Merrick had glanced at us before she went on.
"There are Mayfairs living in that Garden District house even now," she had said matter-of-factly, " -- white people, who never had much to do with us, except through their lawyers." How worldly her little laugh had sounded -- the way people laugh when they speak of lawyers.
"The lawyers would come back of town with the money," she said with a shake of her head. "And some of those lawyers were Mayfairs too. The lawyers sent Angelique Marybelle Mayfair north to a fine school, but she came home again to live and die right here. I would never go to those white people." The remark had been almost offhanded. She went on.
"But Great Nananne talks about Oncle Julien just as if he was living now, and they all said it when I was growing up, that Oncle Julien was a kind man. Seems he knew all his colored relations, and they said that man could kill his enemies or yours with the look in his eye. He was a houn'gan if there ever was one. I have more to say about him by and by."
She had glanced quite suddenly at Aaron and I'd seen him glance away from her almost shyly. I wonder if she had seen the future -- that the Talamasca File on the Mayfair Witches would swallow Aaron's life, as surely as the Vampire Lestat had swallowed mine.
I wondered what she thought about Aaron's death even now, as we sat at the cafÈ table, as I spoke softly to the handsome and well-defended woman whom that little girl had become.
The feeble old waiter brought her the fifth of rum she had requested, the St. James from Martinique, dark. I caught the powerful scent of it as he filled her small, heavy octagonal glass. Memories flooded my mind. Not the beginning with her, but other times.
She drank it just the way I knew she would, in the manner I remembered, as if it were nothing but water. The waiter shuffled back to his hiding place. She lifted the bottle before I could do it for her, and she filled the glass again.
I watched her tongue move along the inside of her lip. I watched her large searching eyes look up again into my face.
"Remember drinking rum with me?" she asked, almost smiling, but not quite. She was far too tense, too alert for that just yet. "You remember," she said. "I'm talking about those brief nights in the jungle. Oh, you are so right when you say that the vampire is a human monster. You're still so very human. I can see it in your expression. I can see it in your gestures. As for your body, it's totally human. There isn't a clueÖ"
"There are clues," I said, contradicting her. "And as time passes you'll see them. You'll become uneasy, and then fearful and, finally, accustomed. Believe me, I know."
She raised her eyebrows, then accepted this. She took another sip and I imagined how delicious it was for her. I knew that she did not drink every day of her life, and when she did drink she enjoyed it very much.
"So many memories, beautiful Merrick," I whispered. It seemed paramount that I not give in to them, that I concentrate on those memories which most certainly enshrined her innocence and reminded me of a sacred trust.
To the end of Aaron's life, he had been devoted to her, though he seldom spoke of it to me. What had she learnt of the tragic hit-and-run accident that had caught Aaron unawares? I had been already gone out of the Talamasca, out of Aaron's care, and out of life.
And to think we had lived such long mortal lives as scholars, Aaron and I. We should have been past all mishap. Who would have dreamt that our research would ensnare us and turn our destiny so dramatically from the dedication of those long loyal years? But hadn't the same thing happened to another loyal member of the Talamasca, my beloved student Jesse Reeves?
Back then, when Merrick had been the sultry child and I the amazed Superior General, I had not thought my few remaining years held any great surprise.
Why had I not learned from the story of Jesse? Jesse Reeves had been my student even more surely than Merrick ever became, and the vampires had swallowed Jesse whole and complete.
With great devotion Jesse had sent me one last letter, thick with euphemisms, and of no real value to anyone else, letting me know that she would never see me again. I had not taken Jesse's fate as a caution. I had thought only that for the intense study of the vampire, Jesse Reeves had been too young.
It was all past. Nothing remained of that heartbreak. Nothing remained of those mistakes. My mortal life had been shattered, my soul soaring and then fallen, my vampire life erasing all the small accomplishments and consolations of the man I'd once been. Jesse was among us and I knew her secrets, and that she'd always be quite faraway from me.
What mattered now was the ghost that Jesse had only glimpsed during her investigations, and the ghost story that haunted Louis, and the bizarre request which I now made to my beloved Merrick that she call the ghost of Claudia with all her uncommon skill.
-- excerpt from Merrickby Anne Rice. Copyright 2000 Anne Rice; used by permission.
Table of Contents
A Fan's Interview with Anne Rice
Question 1: Jeff Korn asks, What areas of classical mythology are you most interested in, and how do you go about incorporating them into a new novel?
Anne Rice: Well, the answer is that I'm fascinated by almost any mythology that I can get my hands on, but I guess Greek and Roman mythology really enchants me. And I don't know that I've consciously incorporated mythology into my novelsI did explore very deeply Egyptian lore when I created the characters of Akasha and Akeel, the eldest of the vampires. But I'm usually working on my own mythology, my own realm of created characters. But again, I'm in love with all sorts of mythology, and obviously stories in mythology inspire my though I may not be conscious of it.
Question 2: David Melinkoff asks, What literary works do you believe most influenced your novels?
Anne Rice: That is a very difficult question to answer, because I read so widely and so mucheven for a non-reader. I think the Brontë sistersWuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, two books that I read before I ever wrote Interview with the VampireI think they had a terrific influence on me. I recently reread both of those books and I loved them, and I think they continue to have an influence on me. I am in love with Emily Brontë's HeathcliffI absolutely adore him. But I did a lot of reading when I was in college. I read Virginia Woolf, and Hemingway, and Shakespeare, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, and I read some very pure horror fiction from England that I really lovedin particular, J. Sheridan LeFanu's Carmilla, a vampire story that was written in the 1870s and is a very wonderfully sensuous vampire story . I think it's influenced many movies. And I also read the stories of Algernon Blackwood, a very distinguished EnglishmanI believe before he died he was reading ghost stories on BBC radio. And I also read the stories of M.R. James, a very distinguished English gentleman. And I loved all that fictionI absolutely loved it. So everything went into the mix. I'm definitely more influenced by European writers than I am by American writers, there's no doubt about that. I lean toward English writers. And for Merrick the novel that's going to be published in October of 2000, I read a lot of Conan Doyle to get the British voice that David needs to tell that story.
Question 3: Steven Wedel asks, Your attitude toward Christianity seemed pretty dim in your early Vampire books, almost as if you were saying God doesn't exist. However, in your more recent booksespecially Memnoch the Devilthat view seems to have changed. Has your outlook on religion changed?
Anne Rice: Well the answer to that is I'm always looking, and I'm always asking questions. I mean, if you go all the way back to Interview with the Vampire, which was published in 1976, the vampires are really talking a lot about God and the Devil. Louis's questmy tragic hero Louishis quest is to find the oldest vampire in the world, and to find out if that vampire knows anything about God and the Devil. The answer was, of course, rather tragic in Interview with the Vampire, but I go on asking, I go on seeking answers. Now in Memnoch the Devil, which happens by the way to be my favorite of all The Vampire Chronicles, we don't know really whether Memnoch told the truth to Lestat or notit's left as a mystery, and that's very deliberate. I'm going to keep on asking these questions, I'm going to keep on dealing with the supernatural in a lot of ways, and I can't get very far away from Christianity, I can't get very far away from the angels and the saints. I work them in always, in some way. In Merrick, Merrick's voodoo incorporates Catholic saints and statues of the virginit's in my blood, all of this, and there's no pun intended there.
Question 4: Christina Canali asks, After hearing of the time you were transported in a coffin in a horse-drawn carriage across New Orleans, I was wondering what plans, in any, you might have for your own funeral when your time comes. I'm fascinated to know!
Anne Rice: Well, my own funeral! All I know is that I'd like to be laid out in a coffin in my own house, right here where I live. I would like my coffin to be put in the double parlor, and I would like all the flowers that are brought to the funeral to be white. And that's about it. If I could then be transported to the nearby cemetery, Lafayette #1, that would be wonderfulthat's the cemetery where all my fictional Mayfairs are buried, but I don't actually own a plot or a grave in Lafayette #1, so I don't know how far that hearse is going to have to carry me. It may be to someplace out in the suburbsthe rest is unknown. Of course I would want the most joyous music at my funeralI'd love people to sing a hymn called "I Am the Bread of Life", but after that hymn is sung, then it can be Dixieland bands, all the way. And merriment. And lots of wine served, certainly.
Question 5: P. Wayne Hill asks, With all the talent in your famil-your husband being an artist and poet, your son a published novelis-is living in your house different from any other American household? Do the three of you ever sit around and share ideas? I would love to be at the dinner table with the three of you and listen to the conversation.
Anne Rice: You know, I don't know if our conversation is all that exciting. We do talk about what we are doing to each other. We do, I don't knowkind of report to each other what we're doing. And at this point of course I am so proud of my son Christopher. I am so proud of his novel A Density of SoulsI thought it was really, absolutely wonderful. If I didn't think it was wonderful I just wouldn't mention it, so I can assure you I'm telling the truth. I was just blown away that he could write something at the age of twenty-one that was so intense and so good. But many times our conversation is just about family matters, just trivial things: where are we going to go out to dinner? What's the food like? When are we going to have a family reunion? What's going on with my mother-in-law? What's happening with our cousins? It can be very mundane, very ordinary.
Question 6: Kathy asks: How does the beautiful artwork for your book covers come about? Are you involved in choosing them?
Anne Rice: Well, it's a pleasure to answer this question. The artwork on the book covers is chosen by my editor Victoria Wilson. Victoria Wilson has been my editor for twenty-five years. She has a knack for coming up with absolutely beautiful artwork. She just has a real intuition where that's concerned. She finds exactly the right thing. I think that the readers of the books very much appreciate the artwork that she chooses. I've loved it. I've been excited about every cover that Victoria has ever created. And I'm very glad that I'm at a publishing house that allows Victoria to have a free hand with that and to choose what she thinks is good.
Question 7: Julie Schronk asks: I've read: Rice fans identify with the Vampires because we feel like outsiders. Do you see yourself as an outsider after all these years of your writing and your fantastic success?
Anne Rice: First of all, thank you for referring to my success as fantastic. Yes, I feel like an outsider, and I always will feel like one. I've always felt that I wasn't a member of any particular group. And I think that writers in particular as they gain success feel like outsiders because writers don't come together in real groups. You can look at the New York Times Bestseller List and you can be pretty sure that the writers on that list don't know each other very well. Maybe two or three know each other, but it isn't like we all go to a party every weekend and we talk about our experience as best selling authors. That doesn't happen. I also think that process by which you become a writer is a pretty lonely one. We don't have a group apprenticeship like a violinist might training for an orchestra, or a ballet student might being in a company that does ballets. We don't have any of that. We write on our own time, we write when we can. There may be writing groups where people meet but its occasional. You really do it all at your own computer or your own typewriter by yourself.
Question 8: Sari Philipps asks: Thank you for all your wonderful stories. Do you personally visit the places you write about, such as Brazil or England or Paris? Or do you just extensively research. I love reading about all the places visited by the Vampires and Witches in your books, every location just seems so alive and I feel like I'm really there too.
Anne Rice: I do visit most of the places that I write about. I have been to Brazil and I have been not only in Rio de Janeiro but also in the Amazon, and I really loved it. I wrote about it with great passion afterward in the book Violin. And I have been to England and to Paris. I love both places. In England I went to Glastonbury and I visited the supposed tomb of King Arthur. I also went to Canterbury because I wanted to see the cathedral there. I went to Stonehenge of course. I wish I had spent more time in England. I really do. I've been to Paris more than once, I'm not sure if it's three times or twice. The Paris that I describe in my books is something of course that I have to envision because it is the Paris of the eighteenth century, but when Lestat goes to Paris now, and he sees things, those are the things that I saw. Some of the places I've written about I have not been. I have not been to India yet, and I hope to go to India, I want very much to do it, and so there's some research involved when I describe those places. In Merrick, for example, I describe the Guatemalan jungle. I haven't been there. But as I've said, I've been to the Amazon and I've been to the rainforest in the middle of the city of Rio, and that prepared me very much I think to write about that Safari in Merrick. By the way, I hope that safari was a lot of fun for readers. It was fun for me.
Question 9:Deborah asks: What is the most difficult novel you have had to write to date?
Anne Rice: The most difficult novel I have had to write in terms of just getting it done was The Vampire Lestat. That's the second one in the Chronicles. It took a year to write. I had a very difficult time with it. Right up to a little over halfway through. Then, when the character of Marius entered the novel, I wrote the last 300 pages in eleven days. So I really felt terrific about that. But that novel was very hard. Now, there's another way of looking at this question. The most painful novel for me to write was probably the novel Violin, which involved a ghost named Stefan and a heroine named Triana. And was about the supernatural and also about music. All of the novels involve some kind of pain and some kind of special difficulty. But I think those were the two most difficult.
Question 10: Mary Arnold asks: The atmosphere and history of wonderful New Orleans imbues your work and setting. It feels so essential to the story of the Mayfair witches. Do you feel any of it could unfold in any other location?
Anne Rice: Well, I am not sure. The Mayfair witches really were born to be in New Orleans. And I do love New Orleans with my whole soul. And I wrote The Witching Hour, Lasher, and Taltos, the three novels in that trilogy right in the house in New Orleans. It's in this house that the Mayfair witches live. This house on Chestnut and First Street is the home of the Mayfair witches, and people know that. And I don't mind people knowing that at all. This house is a character in the novel. The setting of Merrick had to be New Orleans, and I feel that Merrick is a very special New Orleans character.
Question 11: Joey McGee asks, Do you research the "dark" history of New Orleans for your books, and if so, have you thought about writing a historical/non-fiction book about the topic (of voodoo, witchcraft, and so on in New Orleans)?
Anne Rice: I really don't want to write non-fiction. I think that fiction is my vocation. It's my vocation to make narratives and stories and other people can research voodoo and witchcraft and can do it very, very well. For me the novel is the thing. And in Merrick, I was able to get pretty deep into voodoo and I enjoyed that very much. I had to research it and that I enjoyed that research.
Question 12: Becky asks, I've noticed that the characters in your novels often believe in God, but seem to be angry with him. I've heard that this is a reflection of your own attitude. What is your relationship with God, if you believe in him, and what is the background for your feelings? How much of your characters' attitudes toward religion reflects your own? As a corollary to this question: How do you feel about readers trying to use your novels to figure out what you are thinking? Is it possible, as a writer, to have your novels read without you as a person also being "read"?
Anne Rice: I think it's normal for people reading my novels to try to figure out what I think. I'm proud that I've created a body of work that's quite largemaybe twenty booksand I don't mind people trying to figure out what I think. Probably the answer to your question is I don't really know what I think. When I'm writing, I move on instinct, I go for spontaneityhow should I put thatI do what comes spontaneously and when my characters comes alive, they really do take over. And they do ask questions and they do things that surprise me. So maybe I discover my feelings in my novels and maybe I don't. I don't think that I'm particularly interested in God; that doesn't ring true to me. And I don't think my characters are interested, either. I think the vampire Lestat, my alter ego, my wonderful other self, does raise his fist at God and he does a lot of foot stamping. He is a very angry character, in many respects, but I'm not sure I feel this way. I really don't know the answer. I'm in the midst of this complex body of work and I'm too close to it to really see what my attitude is. I certainly can't get away from writing about God, that's obvious. Religious questions come up in everything I write.
Question 13: H. Ash Kent asks, As an author of gothic and mystical novels, how do you feel about people blaming "gothic" culture (i.e. books, movies, music and clothing) for the increase in teen suicide and school shootings?
Anne Rice: Well, first off, I didn't know that people were blaming gothic culture for the increase in teen suicides and school shootings and I hope that there isn't a real connection. I have thousands of young readers who love to dress up in Goth clothes and they love to buy their clothes in antique shops and they love to look beautiful and they love to feel romantic and as far as I know, they have no interest in literal violence. Certainly not violence to themselves and certainly not anything like school shootings. I mean, I think the Goth movement all over America is much more of a…a romantic movement. I mean, many Americans can be so similar and pretty materialistic and can be, in many places, very, very sterile. And I think Goth kids want to capture something…some kind of romance. As I said, the ones that I see are romantics and are not, in any way, literally violent. They're not into anything that would be horrible to themselves or others.
Question 14:Josh Ritter asks, Did you originally intend that Lestat would become the life-force he has become in the Vampire series, or did he do that on his own, as it were?
Anne Rice: Well, you're absolutely right; he did that on his own, he really did. When I wrote Interview with a Vampire, I was focusing on Louis, the tragic Louis, and Louis's dilemma and Lestat took shape really in the corner of my eye. And at the end of the novel, I had to face the fact that Lestat was a vivid and compelling character. Now, I did know at the end of the novel that I would like to tell the story from Lestat's point of view, I thought that would be interesting. But eight years passed before I decided to do a sequel. And I didn't want to focus on Louis, I wanted to focus on Lestat. Why that was, I'm not sure. I felt by that time that I was no longer Louis, I was Lestat. But The Vampire Lestat wasn't just a sequel. I mean, it was great big long story all about Lestat's life that really only encapsulated a small portion where he reiterated the story of Interview with a Vampire. But he definitely took over; he took on very strong life. He began to dominate my work and I loved it. He is the only character that I've really created who really stalks me. I mean, he would not leave me alone. I tried to put him to rest, so to speak, but it doesn't work.
Question 15: Mercedes Lawry asks, Have you ever come upon something in your research that truly frightened you--and if so, what?
Anne Rice: Sometimes I've been reading actual accounts of hauntings: books where people have been interviewed who've seen a ghost or felt a ghost's presence or something strange has happened in their house. Those books sometimes scare me. They actually scare me. If I'm reading late at night, and I come upon something like that, a really gripping and seemingly authentic account, I'll get scared. I don't want to be alone while I'm reading that. But, most of the time in my research, I'm just absolutely delighted to be reading history, whether it's the history of ancient Sumer or Egypt, Italy or the Romans or the Etruscans, or anything. Nothing jumps out at me, or frightens me, in my research, except those questions of real hauntings.
Question 16: John Burch asks, Are there any plans to revisit Mona Mayfair or her daughter, Morrigan, in a future book?
Anne Rice: At this time I don't know if I can revisit Mona Mayfair. I don't know if I can visit Morgan. At one time I did plan to deal with Morgan right away in a book that was going to be called Morgan. But it didn't work, and the more that time passes the more I feel that the Witching Hour TrilogyThe Witching Hour, Lasher, Taltosthat's complete. That's really complete in its own way, and I'm not sure that I want to meddle with that. I'm not sure that I want to open that up again. I may do it though. I kind of know what happens in my head. I know what happened with Morgan, so maybe at some point I will be compelled to go back to it. I also have a great love for the Mayfair Family, and Mona was one of my favorite characters. I would really, really love to be with Mona again. She was spunky, she was intelligent, she was precocious. She was sexually very brave. She was loving, and I thought extremely and inherently interesting. That's what she seemed to me when I was writing about her. She took me over. She won me to her side, and I loved Mona, so maybe I will come back to Mona.
Question 17: David Suttles asks, As a Southerner, I have been pleased to read about some of my personal favorite areas of this region. Is there any place in the South you have not written about that you would like to chronicle in a future novel?
Anne Rice: This question I really appreciate because right now I'm working on a novel that's going to be set more in the state of Mississippi and more in the swamplands. I really want to deal with the southern swamps in a way that I haven't dealt with before. It won't be published, though, this novel, until about 2002. But it will be one of The Vampire Chronicles and Lestat will be in it, but I want to get into the rural south. New Orleans is kind of a dream all unto itself, but I'd like to get into the rural south and what it's like, in particular to live near and around the swamps.
Question 18: Pat Humphrey asks, Do you ever use your dreamlife scenarios for any plots in your novels?
,br> Anne Rice: Actually, I don't. My novels are kind of dreams of their own, and I don't carry over either my dream world or my dreams into my novels. My novels have their own lives. I do have, by the way, a very complex dream world, or at least I did until recently: a dream world full of characters who are engaged in all kinds of interesting activities. That dream world developed in me when I was a very small child and was very active right up until my adult life, until about ten years ago. And then it began to die, and I'm not sure why that is. But occasionally, even now, I find myself slipping into my dream world and following some of my dream characters. But they never escape from my dream world to enter into my novels. It just doesn't happen. As I said, the novels are dreams unto themselves.
Question 19: Ellen Parodi asks, You've written several screenplays adapting your novels to film. Is there any one character you would not want to see portrayed on the screen by a mere mortal? In other words, who do you feel would be impossible to cast?
Anne Rice: I don't think anybody is impossible to cast. I would love to see almost every character I've created portrayed in some way effectively and beautifully on screen. I really would. There is no question about that. I have books right now that I would love to see made into a mini-series, or even long seriestwenty-two episodes, or twenty-five episodes. I am so sensitive myself to motion pictures and to television that I couldn't help but delight in seeing that. Right after writing Interview with the Vampire, way back in 1973 or 1974, when I was just finished with the first draft of the manuscript, I wanted to see it on the screen. I started imagining the French actor, Alain Delon playing Lily. Of course, Alain Delon is gone now, and we got Brad Pitt, and Brad Pitt did a wonderful job in the movie of Interview with the Vampire. He really captured Louis's beauty and Louis's misery. That was a thrilling thing for me. I love the movie Interview with the Vampire so much that I actually can't watch it. I've watched it three or four times and it's so wrenching for me, it's so emotional, that I don't think I can do it again. It's too close to what I'd written. They had based that movie on my script, and they were very, very faithful to most of the elements that I really wanted. Neil Jordan, the director, actually went to the book and he put back into the movie things from the book that I hadn't written into the script. I was honored by that, and I appreciated that keenly.
Question 20: JW asks, I've always wanted to know if it is difficult to remember specific events and details of a characters life after a few novels. With so many books it must be extremely annoying to keep track of everything you've revealed so far. Does someone have to check to make sure that what was said in one book meshes with the story in another? Do you keep or check a fact/bio sheet on the characters as you write?
Anne Rice: This question is right on because I am beginning to have real problems recalling what characters have done in novels. There isn't anyone keeping track that I know of, except me, so I go back and I re-read the novels. For example, I've just completed a novel called, Blood and Gold, the story of Marius, and it will be published in 2001. I had to read The Queen of the Damned over again before I could write that novel. I had to go back and check everything that I had written about Marius, and I had to make sure that I go the details exactly right, that I didn't make some very stupid mistake. Because my memory isn't what it used to be, there's no question. I used to have such a good memory that people would be amazed at what I could remember, and it's not what it used to be. My concentration, however, is great, and I wonder sometimes if there isn't a trade-off: that your concentration improves as your memory begins to fail a little. But in answer to your question again, I check everything. I go back, I re-read, I check.
I also had to re-read a lot of The Vampire Armand to prepare for Blood and Gold. That was a very interesting experience for me because a lot of it I didn't remember writing. But I am exceedingly proud of The Vampire Armand. I'm proud of books for different reasons, and with The Vampire Armand I'm not only proud of the story, but I'm proud of the language. I really let my language go to a florid extreme in Armand, and I love that. Merrick is written in a very different style. David Talbot is really an English gentleman and he doesn't write with the same wealth of adjectives that I used in The Vampire Armand.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
From the beginning I could not put this book down. Normally it takes a while to get through one of the Mrs. Rice's vampire books for me...even though I love them to death...not this one. I read through it so quick I amazed myself. The story throwing in a surprising twist of when the world of the Mayfair witches and the Vampires finally unit with the stunning new character of Merrick. Anne Rice never disappoints!
This book was extremely exciting & thrilling that it's just too hard to put down. I love the strong and wicked enchanted female character of Merrick. I also love how Anne Rice shows how vampires can be humanly vulnerable with their emotions & nature. It was wonderful to have the vampire collide with the witches. Especially to have Lestat, Louie & David back together. I simply loved it from beginning to the end. I would recommend anyone to read this book.
I started to read Anne's books at the young age of 11,I am now 22. I am up to Blood an Gold in the chronicles,and have read her other stories. To me,Merrick was one her best,right next to Interview with the Vampire. If you enjoyed that book and Tale of The Body Theif then you will just LOVE this book. And if you are a Louis fan then you will get your fill of him in this book as well! WONDERFUL,as always!
Although I admit to being unsure at the beginning of this story as it was not quite what I expected, it turned out to have a pleasant ending for those who follow Rice's Vampire Chronicles.
Anne Rice does it as no one else ever has. And when she does it, she does it with the extreme discriptions everyone comes to expect of her. I think it is wonderful that she has branched out to other vampires in the series. I would love to see a book later on Gabrielle. In this book, she shows us something Lestat never could. How someone who got to live their whole life lived and loved as a mortal. This is not only about Merrick, but David, and the love they shared as mortals. I am on my third reading of this book and it still captivates my attention totally.
I loved this book, and I love the character, Merrick. I must say though, that if a person reads this without reading the other books in The Vampire Chronicles series first, they might be a little confused. That is not a criticism of Merrick, just a recommendation--read the other books first, please. Then this book will be pure pleasure, from start to finish. I can't wait to read the next installment with the characters Lestat and Merrick in it, Blackwood Farm.
Every one of her books are amazing!!!
i liked this book. the merrick character is very interesting and different. a strong female character for once from anne rice. i like the fact that louis is finally revisited in a big way and not just as a side bar. merrick is a solid book that i enjoyed reading. it had some slow parts but it was mostly a good book.
I found this book to be extremely exciting and had a hard time putting it down. I love the strong female character of Merrick and I also love how Anne Rice shows how vampires can be humanly vunerable. In my opinion, it was one of her best novels yet.
This is not among Anne Rice's best work (Queen of the Damned; WItching Hour) but, for me this book showcased one of the few interesting, strong female characters Anne Rice has ever done. I very much enjoyed Merrick and like her as a character.
MERRICK has all the ingredients for a perfect Anne Rice novel: issues addressed in previous books, the introduction of new Mayfair family members, and the reawakening of The Vampire Lestat, having been in a deep sleep. However the title character turns out to have a very uninteresting backstory and Louis loses what was most unique to the character. Still, anyone who's stuck this far with the Vampire Chronicles can't go wrong by reading MERRICK.
I was extremely disappointed. The relationship between Louis and Lestat was totally abandoned for this Merrick who was a weak and worthless character. Anne's work on Merrick is based on a woman who is afraid to be a woman, so afraid and so intiminated she decides to trick the vampires of Rice's chronicals to turn her into a vampire so she no longer has to be afraid of the dark, or of the violence men are capable of dealing out. She's a coward who drinks a lot of rum so she can be as numb as she can be to life around her, She gives nothing to the world, she takes nothing from the world, she makes her great escape from humanity by becoming a genderless vampire. She's afraid of life so she becomes sexless and lifeless. Who wants to read about a poor, little woman who thinks of her sex as being the weaker one, the weak and worthless one, the sex that has to use their sexuality, and deceptiveness to get what they want rather then their intelligence, power, and skills. Who is terrified at the very thought of competing in the real world with men and other women who unlike her isn't afraid to make a contribution to the world. The other vamps mostly male were forced in to becoming vampires, or became vampires out of grief, here we have the first vampire, a woman, becoming a vampire because she scared! I really will not be buying Anne's works ever again. What I enjoyed about her works was the romantic overtones in Louis and Lestat's relationship. Now that that's over with so is my interest in Anne Rice. I can buy a novel simular to this one any place, any time, it's a boring Harequin Romance except of course the heroines in Harequin Romances have more courage and are more resourceful.
I looked forward to this newest installment of the Vampire Chronicles because I heard from the advance press that it involved my favorite character, Louis de Pointe du Lac. I was very disappointed. Not only does Louis not even make an appearance for several chapters, when he does appear, he is not the same character from the earlier Vampire Chronicles. Louis is pathetic, pining away for Claudia, who has been dead for over 200 years. Why? By the end of the book, Louis has done two things which he has stated in the previous novels that he would not do and there is no reasoning given for this. David Talbot was an extremely interesting character in Tale of the Body Thief. Here, he is not. We are suddenly told that he is obssessed with Merrick, emotionally and sexually, who was a member of the Talmasca at age 14, yet we heard nothing about her when he was telling Lestat about his life and time in the Talamasca. He did explain in Tale of the Body Thief, and re-emphasized in The Vampire Armand, that He is completely disconnected to the Talamasca. Now he is searching out members of the order, and by the end of the book, actually contacts the order himself. Merrick is unformed as a character. She has a great desire to become a vampire, but we are never told why this is. Lestat does make an appearance in the very end of the book, but after his small moment of action, he decides to take another nap, so this is NOT the great return of the Vampire Lestat. Finally, there are several misspellings, timeline inconsistancies, and character feature inconsistancies in the book. This is insulting to any reader and shows a blatant disregard for faithful Vampire Chronicle fans. For the record, his name is MATTHEW, not MICHAEL, David has BROWN eyes which glow with a golden vampiric light, he has been a vampire for 8 years now and he is 6'2, LOUIS is spelled L-O-U-I-S, and it should be explained why the most powerful vampires, Maharet and Mekare STOPPED seeing spirits when they were made vampires, yet both Armand and David CAN. The book portrays 'voodoo' (Vodun) in a completely unrealistic way. This is a religion and should be treated with respect. Vodun simply does NOT work the way it is shown in this book. Finally, the book is entirely too short, only 300 pages, to charge more than 15 dollars for, and it does not end, but rather just stops. I cannot reccomend that anyone spend money on this book. I returned mine the next day.
Excellent story, one of the best in the series.
Merrick is a lovely book. Not Ms. Rice's best work, but lovely just the same.
I read this book and loved it. Anne Rice at her best.