I was looking through some pics on my phone the other day, reminiscing about the trip to New Orleans I took at this time last year, when I came across a photo of the Anne Rice section of the Garden District Book Shop. Anne Rice is a big deal in NOLA because she was born there and lived in various New Orleans locations throughout her life. I took a walking tour of the Garden District and we made a stop in front of the mansion she used to own. You can also take an Anne Rice-themed tour of the French Quarter, which I kind of regret not doing.
I haven’t read any of Rice’s work since I was a teenager, but I have a very distinct memory of reading the first four books from The Vampire Chronicles when I was 15. I read them during a summer I spent in Greece. I was there by myself, away from my friends and family, and I was terribly homesick. Her books kept me company and made me happy when nothing else did (*reminder: I was a teenager). I was surrounded by a language I only barely understood, food that was delicious but different from what I was used to, and music that I hated (I was very much in a grunge state of mind and Athens at that time was all about euro-dance). So I will always be thankful for Anne Rice and the incredible gothic world she created.
I recently bought a copy of The Witching Hour and I’m pretty excited to read it. I also want to reread the first four titles from The Vampire Chronicles, plus all the others that were published after 1995. Anyone with a bibliography this impressive can teach the rest of us a little something about what it takes to be a writer. And while I’d love to sit down with Anne Rice to talk in person, preferably over coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde, that’s probably never going to happen. So instead I searched around online for some bits of advice from the queen of gothic literature and put them together here.
Write anywhere & everywhere.
“I write on the wall so I don’t forget, I write on the walls because I enjoy it, I write on the walls because the written word acts as a constant reminder and a constant trigger for the imagination, and for inspiration. I have an irresistible urge to write down ideas that I have late at night, for fear that they won’t be remembered in the morning, and I’ve often written long paragraphs down the doors. As a child I wrote on the walls. But really, it has to do with memory. It has to do with wanting to remember, not just the idea or the concept of the word, but the emotional feeling behind it. I’m leaving a code for myself. I’m writing in English, and there is no real code, but in a way it’s all a code, because it’s a shorthand for what I’m talking about. For example, if I have an idea for a novel I might write two words, but I know what they mean, and I know all the thoughts that lie behind those words. And the whole room, at this point, is covered. I’m going to have to find a way to write on the ceiling!”
Write something you’d like to read.
“I thought it would be fun to write a story in which a vampire told you what it was like. That grew into “Interview with a Vampire.” I was quite amazed that I could talk about everything that mattered to me in that novel. Many fantasy writers say that when they discovered fantasy, they could write about their reality, what their emotions are, the questions that interest them. It doesn’t mean we believe in the fantasy.”
Write about something you can’t get over.
“Writers write about what obsesses them. You draw those cards. I lost my mother when I was 14. My daughter died at the age of 6. I lost my faith as a Catholic. When I’m writing, the darkness is always there. I go where the pain is.”
“On writing, my advice is the same to all. If you want to be a writer, write. Write and write and write. If you stop, start again. Save everything that you write. If you feel blocked, write through it until you feel your creative juices flowing again. Write. Writing is what makes a writer, nothing more and nothing less.”