What Bram Stoker was to the 18th century, Anne Rice is to the 20th and 21st. Though the latter has dabbled in various themes throughout her writing career and is known for writing about both demons and gods, Rice's legacy all started with a vampire.
He can be hailed as a bit of a vampire brat, as a devilishly handsome creature, and now, Lestat can add the word "prince" to his repertoire.
It has been over a decade since Lestat has had anything to say, but with her latest installment in the Vampire Chronicles series, Prince Lestat, Rice is reviving an old friend and introducing him to modern times.
"When I stopped writing about Lestat, I didn't have anymore to say about him, or with him, or for him -- and I didn't know whether I ever would again," says the author. "I had written 13 books with him and he, to me, is the most significant character I guess I ever was able to create."
She took time and stepped away from writing about vampires -- but not the supernatural realm -- and even experimented with gods and angels. But there was always Lestat, she says, whispering in her ear, "carrying on as if he was a real entity on the astro-plain demanding to be channeled again." With a soft laugh, she adds how the character visited her in dreams saying, "Hey, Anne, stop with all these other characters and listen to me."
With Prince Lestat, Rice does something that she hasn't quite done before: she writes about her own environment. "I started out writing novels that were set way back in history with very little of modern times in them," she says, calling them more like "period pieces." The old 18th and early 19th century era helped her get her stories out and was a better backdrop for her tales of glamour and classic romance.
"But I'm getting more accustomed all the time to writing about my current environment and I've enjoyed that. I've enjoyed trying to bring my passion for glamour and that atmosphere to modern times."
In this new novel, Lestat and his clan are living in the 21st century and need to learn to navigate through all the clutter of technologies we offer. Imagine a vampire with an iPhone or vampire paparazzi snapping pictures of Lestat (to likely later post on Instagram) or even the handy tool of satellite surveillance.
"It's about how these characters can adjust to the times and how they can use all of the different things popping up to their own advantage. And it's also about the problems that are being stirred up amongst them. As communication improves, they can call each other on phones all over the world -- and phones are better than telepathy -- and they can use the Internet to find each other and they can travel rapidly. They're reeling out of control and there's a need for some kind of leadership."
One question Rice asked herself while writing was, "How do you deal with being an immortal like Lestat if paparazzi vampires can take photos of you on their iPhones when you set foot in a Paris café? What's that like for you, are you going to turn around and blast them with a telekinetic fire blast or just accept it and try to be decent?"
No word on whether Lestat goes for accepting the snap or opts for his #telekineticfireblast.
Shortly after Rice announced the new Vampire Chronicles book, Universal Pictures swooped in and bought the rights to the entire series in hopes of turning them into films. The last time we saw Rice's vampires on the silver screen was in 1994 when a much younger Tom Cruise played Lestat in Interview With The Vampire and again in 2002's Queen of the Damned with Stuart Townsend in the role.
Rice assures that she's been working closely with a team of producers from Imagine Entertainment and she intends to keep the adaptations accurate and authentic. "The author's obligation is always to care about the movie being faithfully based on the book. That's what your readers want and that's what they expect of the author and I'm going to try to do that to the best of my ability."
Although it's too soon to start casting any of the roles, Rice does comment that there are plenty of choices today to play Lestat in the forthcoming films. "We're in a golden age right now of fantasy/sci-fi/paranormal romance, and so there are many, many actors who are obviously very good at playing supernatural characters."
A few names she threw out were Chris Hemsworth (he has our vote!), Stephen Amell, and Anson Mount. It could even be a veteran actor like Robert Downey Jr. or an unknown newbie, she adds.
If you have an actor in mind, you'll get your chance to tell Rice yourself next week while she's in town for the Miami Book Fair International.
"I love Miami and I'm dying to see it again. I'd live there if I could, but it's just too far away from my world.
"It's going to be nostalgic for me [to be back] because I've been to the book fair so often in the past." Her favorite part of the whole thing is interacting with fans and readers one-on-one. "I've always thought that the book fair attracted just a wonderful spectrum of readers, so it's going to be fun; it's going to be great."
Anne Rice will be appearing with her longtime editor, Victoria Wilson, during "An Evening With Anne Rice" at the Miami Book Fair International on Monday, November 17. The conversation begins at 8 p.m. in the Chapman Conference Center (Building 3, second floor, room 3210). This event requires a ticket, which costs $15. Guests are encouraged to dress up as vampires: "the more fangs, the better!"