Phone Message Transcript: January 13th, 2003
[appearing on Anne's fan phone line]
"It's January 13th, 2003. Anne Rice talking. Thinking about writing. Talking to other writers. Thinking about the way books are made. There's no doubt that my life and my writing have been shaped by grief. I think I was grieving for my mother before she ever died, and that was when I was 14. After the death of my daughter in 1972, I wrote INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, without ever realizing I was writing about loss. I was writing about my daughter's loss. And I was writing about my loss of Catholic faith long before that, because I had lost my faith in the year 1960, when I first went to college. And in losing my faith, I lost my whole view of the world. My whole rich and hopeful and really lovely view of the cosmos as a just place, in which nobody's suffering was ever wasted or lost. In which God knew every tear that was shed. Then as I moved on through life, I lost other people. Dennis Percy, a boy I loved very much. Others. Then finally my father. I remember sitting for two months in the hospital with him at night, watching him get delirious, going out of his head on Morphine. Talking to his dead brothers and sisters and beg for them to come and get him. I watched the great Berkeley fire, on the television, as I sat in that hospital room in New Orleans; and I saw a house that I'd lived in, a magnificent Tudor house on Yorkshire Drive in Oakland, I saw that house go up in flames on TV. I was sitting there in that cold hospital room with my father and I saw it. I thought for sure it had to be someone else's house; but it wasn't. Not long after that, I went to the ruins of that house. I went to what was left of that house and I climbed the front steps to find the basement a great big hole, and it was frilled with the chopped up remains of the magnificent Monterey Cypress tree that had once stood on that hill. The whole area had been devastated by the Oakland/Berkeley fire.
Of course, my father died. He never escaped that hospital. I was dreaming that very moment, that he was dying, I was dreaming of somehow getting him out. Wheeling the gurney out and rescuing him someplace else. Maybe I've said all these things to you before, I don't know, they obsess me. As a writer I'm driven by grief. I think it's important that we as writers, find out what drives us. Not so much that we find out; what's important is that we give in. That we don't fight it. That we just say "Yes, we will go with this pain. Yes, we will endure this. Yes, we will explore this." We must try, in our work, to make a meaningful universe in the pages we write. We'll try to do that. We'll have that faith, we'll have that strength. Sometimes, it's so dark and so difficult when you have to grasp things, you have to look for signs, you have to look out the window and see a sign in the way the flowers are blooming on a tree.
Or a letter comes. A letter comes from a reader of your books, and that reader says to you the perfect things to keep you going.
The most magnificent thing happened to me just recently. A letter came to me from a reader I'll call Glenn. Glenn lives in Ft. Worth. Glenn said, in his letter, the purest and most beautiful things to me. It was about the meanings of my novels. The deep meanings. About what he sees as living in my novels. The letter meant so much to me, that I took it and put it in a plastic cover and put it on my desk, so that I could pick it up and read it again and again. But to continue; as a writer you have to be open to the darkness. You have to be open to the sorrow. Whereas other people may scurry past and say I have to get on with my life, you can sit there and you can feel that sorrow pass over you. You can feel that great lamentation come out of you. You can say of your dead husband "Oh Stan, I loved you with my whole soul, I loved you." And in that spirit, you can write. You can write! Not perhaps the literal story of your husband and how you loved him and how he died, you go into the imagination and you create a story and that story is going to have whatever wisdom you have been allowed by God to acquire. And it's going to be good. And that keeps you going. That keeps you working. That keeps you open to all the signs that are going to come to you, like the letter from Glen. Who perfectly understood your work.
And above all, as you go on, whether you're a writer or a person trying to go on learning from things, you try your best to be charitable to others. Never never to hurt their feelings. Never never to be cold. Never to be indifferent. Never to think that your grief or your pain, entitles you to do that to another human being. The words from St. Paul are absolutely true - we must have charity, and we must have love. That's what grief has taught me. It's taught me to love. I think I can love more deeply now than ever. I think God has been very good to me in giving me that capacity. I want to put that into my novels.
I feel a great change coming in my career. Infact, I know it's coming. The book I've written, the book that will appear in 2003 in the fall. It will be the last of the vampires and the witches. It will be the very end. Of course, that's subject to change. But I don't think it's going to change. I think it's going to be the last book that I put before the world and desperately plead for: "Oh, but it's really about good and evil. Yes, yes I know it's vampires and witches, yes. But it's really about good and evil. It's about salvation, it's about damnation, it's about grace. I know it's about vampires and witches, yes, yes, BUT"....yeah, that going to end for me. That book at the end of 2003 will be the last one with which I approach the altar of God in convolution. There will be no more after that one....there will be no more. There may be life for Lestat, my vampire hero, there may be life for the Mayfair witches; there may be life for them, but they'll be on television or in the movies. I have great hopes for television, and what might do. But the books won't come from me anymore. Something entirely different will come. Something much more direct. But that last book will be published in October. I hope that I will go on tour then, and that I will see you. In the meantime, thank you for all your wonderful calls and for all the love you've given me. Believe me, I love you. I love you all. Take care."