The benefits of membership in a local chapter of Romance Writers of America are many and constantly unfolding. Our members have been working with local libraries to put on book signings and special events when possible. Imagine my joy at hearing Anne Rice and her son Christopher Rice were going to be at the San Diego Central Library this month to speak and sign books. And members of our chapter would have reserved seating in front. Oh, yeah!
Being a compulsive note-taker, I have to divide this into several parts. So here is Part I.
Anne lived in La Jolla at one time and has a special fondness for San Diego. We do have a beautiful city and pretty decent weather. The night after this event, Anne and Christopher were scheduled to sign at Warwick’s in La Jolla. Christopher said it would be the same show without the talk.
Books by both authors were sold at the event, and I picked up Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis. Now that the book is published and reviews started rolling in, Anne realized the entire story is spoilers. It’s difficult to talk about anything from the book without giving away something important.
She had a story idea about Atlantis that she would take out and play with over the years. But it didn’t start rolling (when the story is flowing out of her head, she calls it rolling) until she introduced vampires. It all fell into place and all the problems she saw were resolved.
Anne does not outline on paper, she has a mental road map that allows for surprises. She finds that touch of uncertainty keeps it exciting for her. When she wrote Interview with the Vampire, she believed it would be a short story. She had no idea it wanted to be a novel. When she sold the book and got notes back from the editors, she added another third of material to the story.
She does keep many characters and story ideas in her brain, as well as on computer notes. She created a character of interest to her, but he was around for a while before she realized he belonged in the Talamasca.
Christopher mentioned that there is a lot of writing advice available. Stephen King hates adverbs. We don’t have enough time to talk about all the things King hates. Not meaning any disrespect to Mr. King, go against the rules. We need to do what works for us as writers. There are no set rules that work for everybody.
He asked Anne to talk about her favorite authors and why she likes them. She reads The Godfather for the intensity of the narrative; Stephen King’s Firestarter for the opening; Dickens for the first person narratives, and Tolstoy to remember to slow down, take the time to say everything you want to say.
The RWA members got to submit questions ahead of time for them to answer. Someone asked Christopher what his parents did when he told them he wanted to be a writer, too. He said they both brought stacks of their favorite classic books to his bedroom, piled them on the floor, and said: “You need to read all of these by Friday or find yourself another family.”
The Vampire Chronicles were groundbreaking when they first came out. Then Harry Potter showed that books could have huge fan bases, and more literary movies showed up, like Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Now, books are being produced on television, like Game of Thrones and Outlander. And shows like The Walking Dead and The Tudors prove that good production values are doable and worth the cost. The internet provides input from fans instantly. It has changed the way books are adapted.
What television shows does Anne watch? The Real O’Neals, The Tudors, Hell on Wheels (loves Anson Mount), Six Feet Under, Carnival, and Deadwood. At one time, mini-series were popular ways of bringing books to TV, but they weren’t given the integrity or respect they deserved. Shogun and The Thornbirds are two examples. Now there is a possibility the mini-series will be done well. The Showtime mini-series of her book, The Feast of All Saints, is exceptionally well done.
Anne edits as she goes. She will go back as things occur to her, but when she finishes, she has a polished draft. One draft. She learned to write that way in her early days as a young writer. Christopher on the other hand, does multiple drafts, depending on the publisher. But he knows it is possible to rewrite a good story into mud.
Anne loves being with Lestat and adding to his mythology. There is a period where, especially if she has ignored him for a while, she has to summon him to come and talk to her. But once he starts, he won’t shut up. Someone asked what Lestat thinks of the internet. He loves new things to explore. (Christopher said they’ll get him a Tumblr page. At Anne’s blank look, he said, I’ll explain later.) Interview with the Vampire involved a tape machine in recording the interview. In the most recent book, an elaborate film studio is used to talk to an immortal. Bram Stoker did similar things in Dracula, using new technology of the time for various news reports and so on. But because it’s ancient history, most modern readers don’t get it.
I’ll have more of the evening on Thursday. Thanks for reading.