On this day, Anne Rice, best-selling author of the Vampire Chronicles and other novels about the occult, is born in New Orleans.
Rice, one of four sisters, was christened Howard Allen O’Brien by her parents but insisted on being called Anne when she started first grade. Her father worked in the post office, and her mother was a strict Catholic. Rice wrote her first novel, about aliens coming to Earth, when she was 7. When she was 15, her mother, an alcoholic, died, and the family moved to Texas, where Anne met her future husband, Stan Rice, in a high school journalism class.
The couple married in 1961, and both went to San Francisco State College. Anne Rice studied political science and later took a master’s degree in creative writing. Stan later became chairman of the creative writing department at San Francisco State. The couple had a daughter who died of leukemia at age 5. Shattered by the death, Rice turned to writing and produced Interview With the Vampire, published in 1976. Although critically panned, the book was a popular hit, generating more than $1 million in movie and paperback rights before publication. Stung by the reviews, Anne turned to historical novels and wrote The Feast of All Saints, about New Orleans, and Cry to Heaven, about Italian castrati. In 1978, the couple had a son, Christopher.
In 1985, Rice published her second vampire book, The Vampire Lestat, which sold 75,000 copies in hardcover. Her third vampire book, The Queen of the Damned (1988), was so eagerly anticipated that the publisher printed more than 400,000 copies for the first printing. By 1990, her paperback sales totaled $1.3 million. Since that time she has written numerous vampire books.
In 1988, the Rices moved to an antebellum mansion in New Orleans, which became the setting for The Witching Hour, about a family of witches in New Orleans, which was followed by a sequel, Lasher. In addition to more books about the supernatural, she began writing a series of pornographic novels under the name A.N. Roquelaure (which means “cloak”), and contemporary fiction under the name Anne Rampling. After the death of her husband in 2002, Rice left New Orleans eventually moving to California in 2005.