Our Queen of Horror Fiction has passed on. Anne Rice was a gift to the literary world and whether you just enjoyed her vampire fiction, expanded into her witch and mummy stories, or were a collector of all her different genres, I think you’ll agree her impact on our world will not be forgotten.
Born on October 4th, 1941, she was 80 when she passed December 11th, 2021, with her son by her side.
Initially using her writing to deal with the grief she experienced from the loss of her darling young daughter, Michele, Anne became a powerhouse of storytelling that touched too many lives to count.
I didn’t get into Anne Rice’s work the normal way. I wasn’t a vampire fan. In fact, I’d not even read a vampire series until I happened upon hers quite by mistake. My gateway was the novel, Feast of All Saints.
Just before spring break my first year of college in the early 90s, we had to give oral book reports for a class. My report was about No Easy Place to Be by Steven Corbin (a great book in it’s own right) and my friend in the class did hers on Anne Rice’s Feast of All Saints. Now, you have to understand, I had never heard of Anne before, so when asked to swap my then favorite book, I was a bit hesitant. But the two books about racial inequality and the way people of color dealt with it seemed to echo each other. When my friend and I packed up after class, I gave in and we exchanged books.
At the time, I lived in the South of Market district of San Francisco, near Moscone Center. I had three jobs, went to college, and also had insomnia. Many nights I’d grab a book and head out to read by stairway light at Moscone until I got too cold. Feast of All Saints was a book that grabbed me from page one and didn’t let me go. I read all night and when I came home in the still-dark morning, I crawled into bed and kept reading while the sun rose outside my window. I cried, I cheered for the characters, I got angry, I cried some more. That is the way Anne’s work affected me. 600+ pages later, I was thirsty for more. The magic this woman created with words was a drug to me. I HAD to have another hit.
Ignorant college freshman I was, I wrote down her name and toddled up to this massive used bookstore that used to be on Powell to see if she had any other books to read. When I asked the dude behind the counter if he had any books by someone named Anne Rice, he laughed at me and said, “Over there.” He pointed to a large endcap at the end of a row.
Looking up at Anne’s ocean of work I was dumbfounded. Where did I start? Were they all stand-alones? Did I need to read them in order? Would I even like vampire stories?
The next week was spent going back to the store several days in a row to purchase the next, and the next, and the next, until I decided to save the trip and buy three at a time. Still, I was back the next week for more. I couldn’t devour Anne’s work fast enough and luckily she had tons to choose from.
I read about vampires creating, loving, and killing each other. I read about witches living in decaying plantations and secret societies dedicated to recording supernatural activity. I read of mummies waking with an insatiable thirst for life and beautiful people being punished in the most shocking ways. I cried on a bus while reading Cry to Heaven. I scoffed at a stranger wanting to “borrow” my hard cover copy of Lasher. I daydreamed of the day when I might meet Belinda while boarding an elevator downtown.
Anne’s books are more than just stories about vampires and mummies and witches. They are about solid, in depth characters that have emotions and human faults. Through her stories, she made me feel a part of her world. She peeled away at the wallpaper of my mind and poured in tales I never even knew I wanted to hear. She spoke the language of the soul and somehow spelled it out by chapter so I could take it in at my own pace. And man, could that lady describe a room!
Anne has changed my life much the same way as she has changed many of yours. She gave me specimens to study which reflected back, caused me to study myself, and change my way of thinking. She inspired me to go down rabbit holes with my own writing and to be raw, emotional, and dangerous.
To say losing Anne is such a horrible loss to us all is an understatement. She will be missed by millions of readers and fans. If there is anything to console us, it is that she has left us a library of books to enjoy. Her books will go on to inspire and entertain generations to come. And all we can say is, thank you, Anne, for sharing your gift with us.
Emerian Rich is the author of the vampire book series, Night’s Knights. She’s been published in anthologies by publishers such as Dragon Moon Press, Hazardous Press, and White Wolf Press. Emerian is the podcast horror hostess for HorrorAddicts.net.