Anne Rice was a mother, friend, and mentor to both readers and writers. She was a sorceress who conjured up ages past and transported us to rich and fascinating places all over the world. We almost believed she was immortal, like her characters. It was a great loss when she died in December 2021.

Anne Rice made us swoon as we collapsed into her vampire’s arms. Maybe they would make us immortal. Maybe they would suck us dry and read our minds, sifting through our pitiful and beautiful human memories, bringing us closer to them than any two souls can be.

Either way, we were willing. 

I first encountered The Vampire Lestat while in high school. This was shortly before the movies came out, when The Vampire Chronicles were only known among readers. I was an angsty, restless girl who felt trapped in a small rural Florida town. I was a bright student, but I came from a working-class family with no exciting prospects for the future. I yearned to see the world, to hear different languages, and be surrounded by beautiful, intellectual people. This is why Anne Rice’s storytelling consumed me. Her books quenched my thirst for art, culture, history, beauty, spirituality, and philosophy. I devoured all The Vampire Chronicles, The Mayfair Witches, and anything else she wrote.

Now that I am a writer, I realize how much Anne Rice influenced me. Among her many charms as a storyteller, I love how she made Lestat directly address the reader. As a girl, it was easy for me to imagine he was real and might step through my window while I was asleep to give me the kiss of eternal life. I often have my characters turn to the reader in my stories in my hopes to create the same intimacy.

Anne Rice was a specialist in relationships, which, in writing, is all there really is. We don’t care about plots and stories if the characters’ relationships aren’t genuine. Lestat’s friendship with Nicolas affected me like no other—encountering someone with whom you can have a never-ending conversation. There is a part during one of their wine-fueled all-nighters where the incomprehensible weight of existential fear sends Lestat into madness. It was one of the first times I read something that confronted this looming question for humanity. Death—what if that’s it? If you really allow it to sink in, it is unbearable (and one of my favorite themes, as you will see in my upcoming novel, Oblivion Black).

With romantic relationships, Anne Rice wrote about love that transcends mortal love. When sex is no longer part of one’s life, gender becomes irrelevant. If no one never grows old, there is no need to cling to someone out of security. Vampires allowed Anne to show how love can be independent of sex , gender, and societal roles. Vampires bonded on a deeper level, and she explored these loves tenderly and fearlessly.

There is too much to say about Anne Rice’s body of work. After losing our queen, we, her devoted readers, feel a collective psychic loss.

I’ve been to New Orleans and walked the French Quarter at night. A little more than tipsy, one can easily imagine Anne Rice’s vampires carousing among the dancing, drunken public. Young vampires losing themselves in the crowd to select their next victim. Older vampires sitting in a cafe to observe the creatures they once were, warming their hands around a cup of coffee as eternity yawned before them. Anne’s world became our world. And it’s a richer, more decadent place because of that. 

Anne Rice’s stories allow us to believe in the magic beneath our ordinary lives. She tempts us to toy with the idea of the unknown—the mysterious stranger in the corner of our eye, the sense that the ghost of a loved one is near, or the notion that angels are discussing our fates as we muddle through life. Anne Rice teaches us that there are many tantalizing possibilities operating beneath the mundane, if we stop for a minute and dare to look.

Thank you, Anne Rice.