The beauty of writing about the undead is that there are always more stories to tell. In 2014, more than a decade after ending the Vampire Chronicles, novelist Anne Rice resurrected Lestat, the tortured bloodsucker who first surfaced in 1976’s Interview with the Vampire. Now he’s back in Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis (Knopf), Rice’s latest tale of lust, evil, and genderless love.
You recently celebrated a birthday.
Thank you! I’ve been alive three quarters of a century, and it seems like 1947 was yesterday. It’s weird.
From 1976 to 2003 you wrote 10 books for the Vampire Chronicles, then stopped. What inspired Lestat’s return?
I try to write books without him, but I can’t get away from him. He’s the way I talk about what really matters to me, the indispensable ingredient.
How did Atlantis become your setting?
I was working on an Atlantis novel for a long time and couldn’t make it work. When I decided to bring the material into Lestat’s world, every problem was suddenly solved. Atlantis gave me energy to expand the challenges Lestat faces.
We’ve seen so many versions of a mythical Atlantis. What’s your take?
What bothered me is that people see it as having been guilty of original sin, and one of the things I’m most against is the idea of original sin. I present the case that Atlantis did not fall because of the sins of its people. It’s my ideal of a utopian world.
You’ve always had a unique approach to sexuality in your characters. How has the current climate influenced your writing?
We’ve made tremendous progress, and I think this book reflects that. But in my writing, gender never mattered. I don’t think Lestat and Louis [of Interview] ever talk about it. They just go through the world loving whoever they want, regardless of gender and age.
What do you think of the recent wave of vampire tales?
I enjoyed True Blood a lot, Twilight somewhat. One reason was that I didn’t think I was going to write about Lestat anymore, so I didn’t have to protect the purity of my imagination. I could just go to the theater, eat popcorn, and watch what other people have done. It was a lot of fun.
Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis will be released November 29 and is available for pre-order here.
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