...or so she tells Time magazine this week:
"One more book." Those are the words Anne Rice fans have been dying to hear about the Vampire Chronicles ever since her shocking — and dismaying to many of his followers — turn to religious writing. Long seen as a committed atheist, four years ago the best-selling author drove a stake through the hearts of her followers when she vowed to abandon her sinister stories and instead write only of the Lord.
Turns out, vampires aren't that easy to kill. In an interview with TIME, the best-selling author of Interview with the Vampire and The Queen of the Damned, has revealed that she plans to write one last book about Lestat, the feared, yet beloved, blood-sucking main character in her gothic novel series. "When I published my first book about the Lord I said I would never write about those characters again," Rice acknowledged. "But I have one more book that I would really like to write. It will be a story that I need to tell."
This must be great news to her legions of vampire fans, who I don't think have embraced her Christian novels with the same brio that they did the Lestat books. (Her latest, Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana, comes out next month, and I doubt that this announcement on the eve of its publication was a coincidence.)
I'm not a Rice fan, but I'm not a detractor, either. That said, I reviewed two of her last Vampire books, and they were just Too Much -- too much description, too much melodrama, too much everything. By page 500, I had verbal gout. This excerpt from my review of 1998's The Vampire Armand in The Washington Post holds up pretty well, and sums up her latter-day vampire career:
As usual, it’s not just the epic plot, but Rice’s voluptuary worldview that’s the main attraction. Not many writers can shift from ruminations on Christianity into casual homoeroticism without stripping their gears, but Rice does it with ease. Elegant narrative has always been her hallmark; she glops on juicy, rococo descriptions as if they were scoops of whipped cream. And her talent for describing Gothic interiors down to the last bibelot and objet d’art makes her the Martha Stewart of the Charles Addams set.
Not all of Armand works this well. At times, Rice’s loamy dialogue veers into Barbara Cartlandisms (“Your face is as a jewel given me, which I can never forget, though I may foolishly lose it. Its glister will torture me forever.”). And when Rice brings these florid folk to modern-day New Orleans, she dilutes both the power of their personae and the power of the narrative; these characters seem too overripe for even the most elegantly decadent of American cities.
That said: I really hope that the story she "has" to tell somehow involves her vampires during and after Hurricane Katrina, because if there was ever a backdrop for her brand of sorrow and excess, that's it. I was at a Borders on Saturday and came across a table groaning with newly published Katrina books; a few looked interesting, but not one of them compelled me to buy it. But the dead souls of the Rice cosmology mingling with the dead souls in Katrina's wake: there are a lot of possibilities there. It could be a late-career shot in the arm...or it could be a huge mess. But read it? You bet I would.
Just don't let Tom Cruise anywhere near the project.