Phone Message Transcript: April 13, 1999
[appearing on Anne's fan phone line]
Today, I want to answer some of the questions you all have asked me, through this phone line and on the Internet.
Glenda from Louisiana asks if the character of Louis will ever be revived. Glenda, Louis never really dies. He appears in almost all of the vampire books, even if his appearance is brief. However I do have hopes of including Louis's own most recent story among my smaller "New Tales of the Vampires," the small novels which have been appearing in the Spring of each year. There is no question but that it's difficult for me to go back to Louis. Louis represents a frame of mind which I experienced very strongly, but now, I identify much more positively with Lestat.
Zuess in Florida: You ask if I've had a near death experience, and you comment on Armand's near death experience. The truth is, if I had one I don't remember it. When I went into a diabetic coma last year, I did come with in five minutes of dying, but I have no recollection at all of the entire day. I often wonder if something did happen, but I may never know. I do read avidly all of the literature on Near Death Experiences, and I've been most impressed with the writings of Dannion Brinkley.
S. Kinsch from Oklahoma: You ask if I am Lutheran and have listened to a radio show called White Horse Inn. No, actually I am a practicing Roman Catholic. I was baptized Catholic as a child and reared Catholic. I recently was reconciled to the Church completely, and I attend Mass and Communion every Sunday. I often go to different churches in New Orleans, as we have exceptionally beautiful churches here, which are deeply inspiring. My Catholic faith is a matter of profound conviction. I think the themes in my books make it clear that I have never been too far away from the Church, though I obviously have radical sexual views.
Evelyn in Texas also asks if I believe in God and the Creation of the World. I do believe in God and the Creation of the World most certainly. The older I get the most obvious it seems that one great loving force lies behind the splendor of the Universe.
Heidi from California asks: How do I cope with being so public? Actually, it's not that hard. I am seldom really bothered by people. Outside my front gate, I almost always stop to sign autographs, if asked, or to pose for pictures. People are always extremely polite. I've never been harassed by anyone. But I do live a solitary existence. When we do signings, there are enormous crowds, but we prepare for this ahead of time, trying to make people comfortable while they wait, and trying not to disappoint anyone. Due to illness, I can't do signings now, but I miss seeing my readers terribly.
Lynne asks why Marius changed Armand's children? This of course, pertains to what happens in THE VAMPIRE ARMAND. Marius did it because he had the foresight to see that it was inevitable for these two mortal children of Armand to become vampires. There was no other life for them. Armand had already exposed them to too much knowledge; also Armand, because he was made a vampire at seventeen, really had no idea what it would mean to see these mortals grow old. Marius knew that what he was doing was what was the right thing for all involved.
Thomas in California asks what tips I might have for writers regarding character development. Thomas, I write too instinctively to have specific tips. The old cliche really applies to me in that my characters come to life as I write. I trust to a deep feeling about who the character is and what he is doing, but I don't analyze too consciously. Character takes care of itself. I think to be the kind of writer I am, one has to be a very good listener. And when you write you reveal all that you've heard. You've heard what many people have to say about themselves either directly or indirectly, and you create your characters from all you've heard. The process can go wrong sometimes for me. I have written as much as forty pages with a character and then decided I was in a fog or a dead end. I've thrown out the material and begun again. But most of the time, character is somewhat spontaneous.
Tiffany from Oklahoma asks what happens to vampires who starve themselves? In my cosmology, Tiffany, vampires who starve become progressively weaker until they reach a point where they can not help themselves. Lestat experienced this in THE VAMPIRE LESTAT, but Marius came to him, found him buried in the earth, and resurrected him, feeding Lestat with his own blood. A very weak vampire like Louis, the hero of INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, has to have a great quantity of blood every night of his existence which is a terrible trial to him. Older vampires can endure longer without feeding, but they are like addicts. They want to feed.
St. Armand from Kentucky asks, In my mind, how was Lestat duped by Memnoch? I'm not sure that Lestat was duped. I deliberately left the novel with the mystery in tact. Possibly Memnoch told the truth and Lestat could not accept it. Possibly Memnoch used Lestat to derail the new religion being started by Dora, the heroine of the novel, but possibly nothing like that was accomplished. It is meant to be a mystery, because the only true ending for that novel could be a mystery. Anything else would have been a lie.
Zozan in Illinois asks why I have my characters have homosexual or bisexual tendencies. This comes very naturally to me in my writing. My characters transcend gender in their choices of whom to love. It is not something I planned, not something I need to direct. I suppose I see bisexuality as strength; I see it as deeply honest and powerful.
Ashley from Minnesota asks: How much of what I write is fact, and how much fiction? Well, obviously, Ashley my stories are fiction and my characters are all fictional, but I research my novels to a tremendous degree, and what I say about historical events, historical persons, and about cities and other places is all based in fact. For example, everything about ancient Rome in the novel PANDORA is correct to the best of my knowledge. Everything about Florence, Italy is correct in VITTORIO. I wonder how many of you enjoy the historical details.
Thanks for listening, please do leave me a message at the beep. I'm very curious as to your responses to VITTORIO. And thank you for all your calls.
Anne expanded on this phone message for the web site by answering more questions:
"R.E. Ward from Missouri asks will I write more about Akasha and Enkil? Honestly, I do not know. When I wrote PANDORA, much to my surprise there were extensive flashbacks in it having to do with Akasha, and I may very well revisit those ancient times again. I do see the vampire novels as one great sprawling work, and there is much to explore. You express a love of Egypt. I share that love. I want to write novels set in ancient Egypt, possibly with nothing to do with the vampires. Egypt is so fantastically mysterious and horrifying and thrilling. There are new archaeological discoveries there every day. I can't get it out of my system.
Brooke in Alberta asks about my Armand's extreme religious convictions and whether or not they are my own. There is an enormous amount of my own religious conviction in Armand. When I was a young girl of twelve or thirteen I wanted very much to be a Catholic priest. Of course this was impossible, so I wanted to be a nun. I have never really forgotten this intense period of my early adolescence. If one character embodies that lost religious youth in me it is the character of Armand. I feel passionate what Armand feels when he confronts his belief in God. THE VAMPIRE ARMAND for me was a deeply religious novel. I hope it was a good story too.
Kathleen in San Antonio asks if I have experienced some of the supernatural things occurring in my books. Actually, I have experienced very little that is supernatural. I have had two decidedly prophetic dreams in my life, rather terrible dreams that did come true, but other than that - - a mild psychic ability to think about a person right before the person calls me on the phone or visits - - I have had no supernatural experiences. I am open, however. I read greedily anything I can find on ghosts, near death experiences, and mysticism.
Mark in West Virginia. You ask if the witches or the vampires will ever meet. I've been asked this many times. I have too many tales with each group to ever have them meet. Also, I can not at this time imagine the meeting. I guess not.
BillyBear from IA. Will I write about Gabrielle, Lestat's mother? I've been asked this question a lot and it's tough. I don't think I know Gabrielle well. That's my problem. I don't know her or understand her. In a way, I feel she is coherent and real, but a portrait of a person whom I will never have sympathy with. So I don't write about her much.
Nuria from Spain: You ask if there is any connection between Triana Becker, the heroine of VIOLIN and the city of Sevilla in Spain. No, I have not yet had the opportunity to visit Sevilla. I have been to Spain but only to Madrid and only long enough to spend two magical days in the Prado museum. I hope to return.
Suzanne in Alabama asks if when I am writing a new novel, I devote my full attention to it or do other tasks at the same time? Generally, I devote my full attention to the novel in question. I choose a time when there will be minimal distractions and then I throw myself into the writing, working in 12 hour shifts day after day. I often lose sleep and become slightly manic. When the novel is finished, I am exhausted yet cannot sleep for three days. But that is ideal. I have done it in other ways in the past, interrupting for necessary projects, and returning to the novel. The wonderful thing about being a novelist is that you can do it just about any way that you want.
William in Tennessee asks if I had my choice of who was to make me a vampire, Lestat or Armand, whom would I choose? I'd definitely choose Lestat. Lestat knows how to do it. He did it admirably well when he created David Talbot. Lestat has the touch. Of course he has had a lot of practice, and he's made a few mistakes but he is a master.
Missy from Texas asks if the two giant mastiffs outside of St. Elizabeth's Orphanage in New Orleans are my dogs? Yes, they are. The dogs are named Megan and Dixie. And they have been guarding St. Elizabeth's faithfully since the first year I bought the orphanage.
Starla in Colorado asks about the comics that have been made of my novels. Starla, they are all out of print as far as I know, but they turn up all the time in Comic Book Stores as collectibles and the prices are still very reasonable. There was a 12 issue series of THE VAMPIRE LESTAT, and issues of THE MUMMY, THE MASTER OF RAMPLING GATE, and THE WITCHING HOUR also appeared. We are by the way reviving the Graphic Comics ourselves here in New Orleans. My assistant, Ross Tafaro, under his new publishing venture Sicilian Dragon, will be publishing a graphic novel in twelve episodes of THE TALE OF THE BODY THIEF. This will be in comic book stores all over by the end of the coming summer of 1999."