First edition cover
|Series||The Vampire Chronicles|
|Genre||Gothic, horror, vampire|
|Published||May 5, 1976|
|Media type||Print (hardcover, paperback)|
|Followed by||The Vampire Lestat|
Interview with the Vampire is a gothic horror and vampire novel by American author Anne Rice, published in 1976. It was her debut novel. Based on a short story Rice wrote around 1968, the novel centers on vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac, who tells the story of his life to a reporter. Rice composed the novel shortly after the death of her young daughter Michelle, who served as an inspiration for the child-vampire character Claudia. Though initially the subject of mixed critical reception, the book was followed by many widely popular sequels, collectively known as The Vampire Chronicles. A film adaptation was released in 1994, starring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, and the novel has been adapted as a comic three times.
A vampire named Louis tells his 200-year-long life story to a reporter referred to simply as "the boy" (the character's name is revealed to be Daniel Molloy in The Queen of the Damned). In 1791, Louis is a young indigo plantation owner living south of New Orleans. Distraught by the death of his pious brother, he seeks death in any way possible. Louis is approached by a vampire named Lestat de Lioncourt, who desires Louis' company. Lestat turns Louis into a vampire and the two become immortal companions. Lestat spends time feeding off the local plantation slaves while Louis, who finds it morally repugnant to murder humans to survive, feeds from animals. Louis and Lestat are forced to leave when Louis' slaves begin to fear the monsters with which they live and instigate an uprising. Louis sets his own plantation aflame; he and Lestat kill the plantation slaves to keep word from spreading about vampires living in Louisiana. Gradually, Louis bends under Lestat's influence and begins feeding from humans. He slowly comes to terms with his vampire nature, but also becomes increasingly repulsed by what he perceives as Lestat's total lack of compassion for the humans he preys upon.
Escaping to New Orleans, Louis feeds off a plague-ridden, 5-year-old girl, whom he finds next to the corpse of her mother. Louis begins to think of leaving Lestat and going his own way. Fearing this, Lestat then turns the girl into a vampire "daughter" for them, to give Louis a reason to stay. She is then given the name Claudia. Louis is initially horrified that Lestat has turned a child into a vampire, but soon begins to care for Claudia. Claudia takes to killing easily, but she begins to realize over time she can never grow up; her mind matures into that of an intelligent, assertive woman, but her body remains that of a young girl. Claudia blames Lestat for her condition and, after 60 years of living with him, she hatches a plot to kill Lestat by poisoning him and cutting his throat. Claudia and Louis then dump his body into a nearby swamp. As Louis and Claudia prepare to flee to Europe, Lestat appears, having recovered from Claudia's attack, and attacks them in turn. Louis sets fire to their home and barely escapes with Claudia, leaving a furious Lestat to be consumed by the flames.
Arriving in Europe, Louis and Claudia seek out more of their kind. They travel throughout eastern Europe first and do indeed encounter vampires, but these vampires appear to be nothing more than mindless animated corpses. It is only when they reach Paris that they encounter vampires like themselves - specifically, the 400-year-old vampire Armand and his coven at the Théâtre des Vampires. Inhabiting an ancient theater, Armand and his vampire coven disguise themselves as humans and feed on live, terrified humans in mock-plays before a live human audience (who think the killings are merely a very realistic performance). Claudia is repulsed by these vampires and what she considers to be their cheap theatrics, but Louis and Armand are drawn to each other.
Convinced that Louis will leave her for Armand, Claudia convinces Louis to turn a Parisian doll maker, Madeleine, into a vampire to serve as a replacement companion. Louis, Madeleine and Claudia live together for a brief time, but all three are abducted one night by the Theatre vampires. Lestat has arrived, having survived the fire in New Orleans. His accusations against Louis and Claudia result in Louis being locked in a coffin to starve, while Claudia and Madeleine are locked in an open courtyard. Armand arrives and releases Louis from the coffin, but Madeleine and Claudia are burned to death by the rising sun. A devastated Louis finds the ashen remains of Claudia and Madeleine. He returns to the Theatre late the following night, burning it to the ground and killing all the vampires inside, leaving with Armand. Together, the two travel across Europe for several years, but Louis never fully recovers from Claudia's death, and the emotional connection between himself and Armand quickly dissolves. Tired of the Old World, Louis returns to New Orleans in the early 20th century. Living as a loner, he feeds off any humans who cross his path, but lives in the shadows, never creating another companion for himself.
Telling the boy of one last encounter with Lestat in New Orleans in the 1920s, Louis ends his tale; after 200 years, he is weary of immortality and of all the pain and suffering to which he has had to bear witness. The boy, however, seeing only the great powers granted to a vampire, begs to be made into a vampire himself. Angry that his interviewer learned nothing from his story, Louis refuses, attacking the boy and vanishing without a trace. The boy then leaves to track down Lestat in the hopes that he can give him immortality.
In 1970, while Anne Rice was attending a graduate program in Creative Writing at San Francisco State University, her daughter Michelle, then about four years old, was diagnosed with acute granulocytic leukemia. Michelle died of the illness about two years later, and Rice fell into a deep depression, turning to alcohol in order to cope. Later reviewers and commentators identified Michelle as an inspiration for the character of Claudia.
In 1973, while still grieving the loss of her daughter, Rice began reworking a previously written short story, which she had written in 1968 or 1969.[nb 1] Thirty pages long, the short story was written from the interviewer's perspective. She decided to expand "Interview with the Vampire" into a novel at the encouragement of one of her husband's students, who enjoyed her writing. It took her five weeks to complete the 338-page novel: she did research on vampires during the day and often wrote during the night.
After completing the novel and following many rejections from publishers, Rice developed obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). She became obsessed with germs, thinking that she contaminated everything she touched, engaged in frequent and obsessive hand washing and obsessively checked locks on windows and doors. Of this period, Rice says, "What you see when you're in that state is every single flaw in our hygiene and you can't control it and you go crazy."
In August 1974, Rice attended the Squaw Valley Writer's Conference at Squaw Valley, conducted by writer Ray Nelson. While at the conference, she met her future literary agent, Phyllis Seidel. In October 1974, Seidel sold the publishing rights to Interview with the Vampire to Alfred A. Knopf for a $12,000 advance of the hardcover rights, at a time when most new authors were receiving $2,000 advances.Interview with the Vampire was published in May 1976. In 1977, the Rices traveled to both Europe and Egypt for the first time.
Upon its release, Interview with the Vampire received mixed reviews from critics. A reviewer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch gave the book a positive review, describing the prose as "hypnotically poetic in tone, rich in sensory imagery," while other reviews were more negative. "To pretend that it has any purpose beyond suckling eroticism is rank hypocrisy," wrote Edith Milton of The New Republic. As of February 2008 , the novel had sold 8 million copies worldwide.
The book spawned a total of eleven sequels, collectively known as The Vampire Chronicles, and the spin-off series New Tales of the Vampires. The first sequel, The Vampire Lestat, was published in 1985 and sold more than 75,000 copies in its first printing, garnering largely favorable reviews. 1988's The Queen of the Damned improved on Lestat's numbers, receiving an initial hardcover run of 405,000 and topping the New York Times Best Seller list. Rice's vampire books share a fictional universe with her series Lives of the Mayfair Witches and the novel The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned.
The film rights to Interview were at times controlled by Paramount Pictures, Lorimar, and Warner Bros., the distributor of the film, before The Geffen Film Company acquired the rights. Director Neil Jordan rewrote Rice's first draft of the screenplay, though she received sole credit.Brad Pitt starred as Louis, Tom Cruise starred as Lestat, Antonio Banderas co-starred as Armand, as did a young Kirsten Dunst as the child vampire Claudia. Most of the movie's shooting had been completed by October 1993, and all that remained were the few scenes involving the interviewer that would then be inserted at various points throughout the film. Production of those scenes was put on hold for a few weeks whilst River Phoenix, who had been cast as the interviewer, finished working on the film Dark Blood. Phoenix died from an overdose later that month, and Christian Slater was then cast as the interviewer Molloy. Slater donated his entire salary to Earth Save and Earth Trust, two of Phoenix's favorite charities.
The film was released in November 1994 to generally positive critical reaction, and received Academy Award nominations for Best Art Direction and Best Original Score. Dunst was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film. Rice had initially voiced her objections to the casting of Cruise as Lestat, preferring Rutger Hauer for the role. After seeing the film, however, she voiced her support for the film, saying, "That Tom did make Lestat work was something I could not see in a crystal ball. It's to his credit that he proved me wrong."
In August 2014, Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment acquired the motion picture rights to the entire Vampire Chronicles series, with producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci signed to helm the potential film franchise. The deal also included a screenplay for The Tale of the Body Thief (1992) adapted by Christopher Rice. In May 2016, writer-director Josh Boone posted a photo on Instagram of the cover a script written by him and Jill Killington. Titled Interview with the Vampire, it is based on the novel of the same name and its sequel, The Vampire Lestat. However, in November 2016 Universal did not renew the contract, and the film and television rights reverted to Rice, who began developing the Vampire Chronicles into a television series with Christopher.
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Innovation Comics published a twelve-issue comic book adaptation of Interview with the Vampire in 1992, following up on adaptations of The Vampire Lestat and The Queen of the Damned. A Japanese manga adaptation by Udou Shinohara was published in 1994 by Tokuma Shoten. It was also serialized in both Animage and Chara magazines. In 2012, the graphic novel Interview with the Vampire: Claudia's Story was published by Yen Press, retelling much of the original novel from the point of view of child vampire Claudia.