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Anne Rice on Her New Memoir, Finding God, and Ditching Vampires

Syreeta McFadden’s Skinny Dip (2003)

Fans of Anne Rice, the beloved author widely credited for kick-starting the current vampire craze with her Interview With the Vampire series, already know that in the past few years she’s shifted her focus from bloodsuckers to God. Now she’s written her first-ever memoir, Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession, in bookstores this week. Rice spoke with Vulture about Hollywood, the election, and not watching True Blood.

Was it easy to write your memoirs after having such a long career in fiction?
Oh, I found it very, very difficult, actually. I think in fiction, it’s much more cathartic. Just like in the movie Atonement, you can save people who in real life weren’t saved. But when you’re writing a memoir, you’re confronting the raw truth of the past, and there’s not a whole lot you can do to blunt the pain of revisiting those moments. Having to face memories, and go back to childhood, and go back to a New Orleans that may no longer be there, thanks to Katrina. Things like that. It was very difficult.

The book deals at length with your return to faith after a long period of atheism. What do you think about Christianity’s role in the culture at large?
You know, when I go to Hollywood and pitch my ideas, I don’t get many takers. I think people are afraid. They’re afraid of the Christians, period. You know, Hollywood thinks of Christians as people who picket and jam fax machines and protest. It doesn’t know the audience. It knows that Mel Gibson had outstanding success with The Passion of the Christ, but it doesn’t really know why or how, or who those people are. I think that’s one reason that they’re so negative about Gibson: They can’t replicate his success.

Have you heard from people who have felt that you’ve betrayed your vampire following?
There’s a very small group, and it’s apparently very young people who feel that way. They do periodically write, and they write very unpleasant, bitter e-mails. But of the total e-mails, I’d say they represent maybe one percent. The vampires to them are rebels, and they’re in their rebellion against their parents, against the Church, against Christian beliefs, and they worship those characters that I created — Louis and Lestat and Armand. And they’re very, very angry at me for leaving. I try to explain to them that I have no choice — that I have to write what I believe, and I have to write all I know, and I can’t possibly write about the vampires any longer. That’s out of the question. They represent a world without faith, a world in which alienated souls are wandering in the darkness, and that’s how I felt all those years when I was without faith. And I don’t feel lost anymore.

That’s lovely to hear.
[Laughs] It’s lovely to feel.

Do you see religion as having an important role in this election?
I’m not sure anyone can figure out exactly the role that religion is going to play, because the choices we have are so complicated. I’m pro-life, but I’m very, very skeptical of a lot of people who say they’re pro-life. And I am a pro-life Democrat, so I get a lot of criticism for that. Neither party is perfect, but my feeling is the Democratic party pays more attention to all life across the board, and it’s my choice of the two parties. And frankly I don’t have a lot of faith in a lot of pro-life politicians who haven’t done anything about abortion. So I think it’s highly complex and highly personal. I mean, matters like health care and massacres in Darfur and war and how people are treated in war — all of these things are things that Christians have to be concerned with. We can’t be concerned only with abortion.

On a lighter note, do you watch True Blood?
I have not. I don’t know what that is.

Oh, really?! It’s Alan Ball’s new TV show on HBO, and it’s about vampires living among us. You should definitely check it out.
Well, I may. When I feel like suffering, I’ll do that.

Anne Rice on Her New Memoir, Finding God, and Ditching Vampires