Interview with the Vampire: Book 1 Of The Vampire Chronicles

Mass Market Paperback | September 13, 1991

byAnne Rice

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In celebration of the 40th anniversary of its publication

Here are the confessions of a vampire. Hypnotic, shocking, and chillingly erotic, this is a novel of mesmerizing beauty and astonishing force—a story of danger and flight, of love and loss, of suspense and resolution, and of the extraordinary power of the senses. It is a novel only Anne Rice could write.

Look for a special preview of Anne Rice’s Prince Lestat in the back of the book. The Vampire Chronicles continue in Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis, available for pre-order now.

Praise for Interview with the Vampire
 
“A magnificent, compulsively readable thriller . . . Rice begins where Bram Stoker and the Hollywood versions leave off and penetrates directly to the true fascination of the myth–the education of the vampire.”Chicago Tribune
 
“Unrelentingly erotic . . . sometimes beautiful, and always unforgettable.”Washington Post
 
“If you surrender and go with her . . . you have surrendered to enchantment, as in a voluptuous dream.”Boston Globe
 
“A chilling, thought-provoking tale, beautifully frightening, sensuous, and utterly unnerving.”Hartford Courant

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From Our Editors

Now here's a novel you can really sink your teeth into! No one holds a candle to the queen of macabre when it comes to writing chilling, unforgettable vampire tales. In Interview With the Vampire, readers are invited into the world of Louis, a New Orleans gentleman and plantation owner turned vampire, who shares his shocking story in t...

From the Publisher

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of its publicationHere are the confessions of a vampire. Hypnotic, shocking, and chillingly erotic, this is a novel of mesmerizing beauty and astonishing force—a story of danger and flight, of love and loss, of suspense and resolution, and of the extraordinary power of the senses. It is a novel...

From the Jacket

“A magnificent, compulsively readable thriller . . . Rice begins where Bram Stoker and the Hollywood versions leave off and penetrates directly to the true fascination of the myth–the education of the vampire.”—Chicago Tribune“Unrelentingly erotic . . . sometimes beautiful, and always unforgettable.”—Washington Post“If you surrender an...

Anne Rice is the author of thirty-two books. She lives in Palm Desert, California.

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Format:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:368 pages, 6.9 × 4.2 × 0.9 inPublished:September 13, 1991Publisher:Random House Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345337662

ISBN - 13:9780345337665

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Read from the Book

"I see--" said the vampire thoughtfully, and slowly he walked across the room towards the window. For a long time he stood there against the dim light from Divisadero Street and the passing beams of traffic. The boy could see the furnishings of the room more clearly now, the round oak table, the chairs. A wash basin hung on one wall with a mirror. He set his briefcase on the table and waited. "But how much tape do you have with you?" asked the vampire, turning now so the boy could see his profile. "Enough for the story of a life?""Sure, if it's a good life. Sometimes I interview as many as three or four good people a night if I'm lucky. But it has to be a good story. That's only fair, isn't it?""Admirably fair," the vampire answered. "I would like to tell you the story of my life, then. I would like to do that very much.""Great," said the boy. And quickly he removed a small tape recorder from his brief case, making a check of the cassette and batteries. "I'm really anxious to hear why you believe this, why you--""No," said the vampire abruptly. "We can't begin that way. Is your equipment ready?""Yes," said the boy."Then sit down. I'm going to turn on the overhead light.""But I thought vampires didn't like the light," said the boy. "If you think the dark adds atmosphere--" But then he stopped. The vampire was watching him with his back to the window. The boy could make out nothing of his face now, and something about the still figure there distracted him. He started to say something again but he said nothing. And then he sighed with relief when the vampire moved towards the table and reached for the overhead cord. At once the room was flooded with a harsh yellow light. And the boy, staring up at the vampire, could not repress a gasp. His fingers danced backwards on the table to grasp the edge. "Dear God!" he whispered, and then he gazed, speechless, at the vampire.The vampire was utterly white and smooth, as if he were sculpted from bleached bone, and his face was as seemingly inanimate as a statue, except for two brilliant green eyes that looked down at the boy intently like flames in a skull. But then the vampire smiled almost wistfully, and the smooth white substance of his face moved with the infinitely flexible but minimal lines of a cartoon. "Do you see?" he asked softly?The boy shuddered, lifting his hand as if to shield himself from a powerful light. His eyes moved slowly over the finely tailored black coat he'd only glimpsed in the bar, the long folds of the cape, the black silk tie knotted at the throat, and the gleam of the white collar that was as white as the vampire's flesh. He stared at the vampire's full black hair, the waves that were combed back over the tips of the ears, the curls that barely touched the edge of the white collar."Now, do you still want the interview?" the vampire asked.The boy's mouth was open before the sound came out. He was nodding. Then he said, "Yes."The vampire sat down slowly opposite him and, leaning forward, said gently, confidentially, "Don't be afraid. Just start the tape."And then he reached out over the length of the table. The boy recoiled, sweat running down the sides of his face. The vampire clamped a hand on the boy's shoulder and said, "Believe me, I won't hurt you. I want this opportunity. It's more important to me than you can realize now. I want you to begin." And he withdrew his hand and sat collected, waiting.It took a moment for the boy to wipe his forehead and his lips with a handkerchief, to stammer that the microphone was in the machine, to press the button, to say that the machine was on."You weren't always a vampire, were you?" he began."No," answered the vampire. "I was a twenty-five-year-old man when I became a vampire, and the year was seventeen ninety-one."The boy was startled by the preciseness of the date and he repeated it before he asked, "How did it come about?""There's a simple answer to that. I don't believe I want to give simple answers," said the vampire. "I think I want to tell the real story--.""Yes," the boy said quickly. He was folding his handkerchief over and over and wiping his lips now with it again."There was a tragedy--" the vampire started. "It was my younger brother--. He died." And then he stopped, so that the boy could clear his throat and wipe at his face again before stuffing the handkerchief almost impatiently into his pocket."It's not painful, is it?" he asked timidly."Does it seem so?" asked the vampire. "No." He shook his head. "It's simply that I've only told this story to one other person. And that was so long ago. No, it's not painful--."We were living in Louisiana then. We'd received a land grant and settled two indigo plantations on the Mississippi very near New Orleans--.""Ah, that's the accent--" the boy said softly.For a moment the vampire stared blankly. "I have an accent?" He began to laugh.And the boy, flustered, answered quickly. "I noticed it in the bar when I asked you what you did for a living. It's just a slight sharpness to the consonants, that's all. I never guessed it was French.""It's all right," the vampire assured him. "I'm not as shocked as I pretend to be. It's only that I forget it from time to time. But let me go on--.""Please--" said the boy."I was talking about the plantations. They had a great deal to do with it, really, my becoming a vampire. But I'll come to that. Our life there was both luxurious and primitive. And we ourselves found it extremely attractive. You see, we lived far better there than we could have ever lived in France. Perhaps the sheer wilderness of Louisiana only made it seem so, but seeming so, it was. I remember the imported furniture that cluttered the house." The vampire smiled. "And the harpsichord; that was lovely. My sister used to play it. On summer evenings, she would sit at the keys with her back to the open French windows. And I can still remember that thin, rapid music and the vision of the swamp rising beyond her, the moss-hung cypresses floating against the sky. And there were the sounds of the swamp, a chorus of creatures, the cry of the birds. I think we loved it. It made the rosewood furniture all the more precious, the music more delicate and desirable. Even when the wisteria tore the shutters off the attic windows and worked its tendrils right into the whitewashed brick in less that a year-- Yes, we loved it. All except my brother. I don't think I ever heard him complain of anything, but I knew how he felt. My father was dead then, and I was head of the family and I had to defend him constantly from my mother and sister. They wanted to take him visiting, and to New Orleans for parties, but he hated these things. I think he stopped going altogether before he was twelve. Prayer was what mattered to him, prayer and his leatherbound lives of the saints."Finally, I built him an oratory removed from the house, and he began to spend most of every day there and often the early evening. It was ironic, really. He was so different from us, so different from everyone, and I was so regular! There was nothing extraordinary about me whatsoever." The vampire smiled."Sometimes in the evening I would go out to him and find him in the garden near the oratory, sitting absolutely composed on a stone bench there, and I'd tell him my troubles, the difficulties I had with the slaves, how I distrusted the overseer or the weather or my brokers-- all the problems that made up the length and breadth of my existence. And he would always listen, making only a few comments, always sympathetic, so that when I left him I had the distinct impression he had solved everything for me. I didn't think I could deny him anything, and I vowed that no matter how it would break my heart to lose him, he could enter the priesthood when the time came. Of course, I was wrong." The vampire stopped.For a moment the boy only gazed at him and then he started as if awakened from a deep thought, and he floundered, as if he could not find the right words. "Ah-- he didn't want to be a priest?" the boy asked. The vampire studied him as if trying to discern to meaning of his expression. Then he said: "I meant that I was wrong about myself, about my not denying him anything." His eyes moved over the far wall and fixed on the panes of the window. "He began to see visions.""Real visions?" the boy asked, but again there was hesitation, as if he were thinking of something else."I don't think so," the vampire answered. "It happened when he was fifteen. He was very handsome then. He had the smoothest skin and the largest blue eyes. He was robust, not thin as I am now and was then-- but his eyes-- it was as if when I looked into his eyes I was standing alone on the edge of the world-- on a windswept ocean beach. There was nothing but the soft roar of the waves. Well," he said, his eyes still fixed on the window panes, "he began to see visions. He only hinted at this at first, and he stopped taking his meals altogether. He lived in the oratory. At any hour of day or night, I could find him on the bare flagstones kneeling before the altar. And the oratory itself was neglected. He stopped tending the candle or changing the altar clothes or even sweeping out the leaves. One night I became really alarmed when I stood in the rose arbor watching him for one solid hour, during which he never moved from his knees and never once lowered his arms, which he held outstretched in the form of a cross. The slaves all thought he was mad." The vampire raised his eyebrows in wonder. "I was convinced that he was only... overzealous. That in his love for God, he had perhaps gone too far. Then he told me about the visions. Both St. Dominic and the Blessed Virgin Mary had come to him in the oratory. They had told him he was to sell all our property in Louisiana, everything we owned, and use the money to do God's work in France. My brother was to be a great religious leader, to return the country to its former fervor, to turn the tide against atheism and the Revolution. Of course, he had no money of his own. I was to sell the plantations and our town houses in New Orleans and give the money to him."Again the vampire stopped. And the boy sat motionless regarding him, astonished. "Ah-- excuse me," he whispered. "What did you say? Did you sell the plantations?""No," said the vampire, his face calm as it has been from the start. "I laughed at him. And he-- he became incensed. He insisted his command came from the Virgin herself. Who was I to disregard it? Who indeed?" he asked softly, as if he were thinking of this again. "Who indeed? And the more he tried to convince me, the more I laughed. It was nonsense, I told him, the product of an immature and even morbid mind. The oratory was a mistake, I said to him; I would have it torn down at once. He would go to school in New Orleans and get such inane notions out of his head. I don't remember all that I said. But I remember the feeling. Behind all this contemptuous dismissal on my part was a smoldering anger and a disappointment. I was bitterly disappointed. I didn't believe him at all.""But that's understandable," said the boy quickly when the vampire paused, his expression of astonishment softening. "I mean, would anyone have believed him?""Is it so understandable?" The vampire looked at the boy. "I think perhaps it was vicious egotism. Let me explain. I loved my brother, as I told you, and at times I believed him to be a living saint. I encouraged him in his prayer and mediations, as I said, and I was willing to give him up to the priesthood. And if someone had told me of a saint in Arles or Lourdes who saw visions, I would have believed it. I was a Catholic; I believed in saints. I lit tapers before their statues in churches; I know their pictures, their symbols, their names. But I didn't, I couldn't believe my brother. Not only did I not believe he saw visions, I wouldn't entertain the notion for a moment. Now, why? Because he was my brother. Holy he might be, peculiar most definitely; but Francis of Assisi, no. Not my brother. No brother of mine could be such. That is egotism. Do you see?"The boy thought about it before he answered and then he nodded and said that yes, he thought that he did."Perhaps he saw the visions," said the vampire."Then you-- you don't claim to know-- now-- whether he did or not?""No, but I do know that he never wavered in his conviction for a second. That I know now and knew then the night he left my room crazed and grieved. He never wavered for an instant. And within minutes, he was dead." From the Trade Paperback edition.

Bookclub Guide

A Fan’s Interview with Anne RiceQuestion 1: Jeff Korn asks, What areas of classical mythology are you most interested in, and how do you go about incorporating them into a new novel?Anne Rice:Well, the answer is that I’m fascinated by almost any mythology that I can get my hands on, but I guess Greek and Roman mythology really enchants me. And I don’t know that I’ve consciously incorporated mythology into my novels--I did explore very deeply Egyptian lore when I created the characters of Akasha and Akeel, the eldest of the vampires. But I’m usually working on my own mythology, my own realm of created characters. But again, I’m in love with all sorts of mythology, and obviously stories in mythology inspire my though I may not be conscious of it.Question 2: David Melinkoff asks, What literary works do you believe most influenced your novels?Anne Rice: That is a very difficult question to answer, because I read so widely and so much--even for a non-reader. I think the Brontë sisters--Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, two books that I read before I ever wrote Interview with the Vampire--I think they had a terrific influence on me. I recently reread both of those books and I loved them, and I think they continue to have an influence on me. I am in love with Emily Brontë’s Heathcliff--I absolutely adore him. But I did a lot of reading when I was in college. I read Virginia Woolf, and Hemingway, and Shakespeare, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, and I read some very pure horror fiction from England that I really loved--in particular, J. Sheridan LeFanu’s Carmilla, a vampire story that was written in the 1870s and is a very wonderfully sensuous vampire story. I think it’s influenced many movies. And I also read the stories of Algernon Blackwood, a very distinguished Englishman--I believe before he died he was reading ghost stories on BBC radio. And I also read the stories of M.R. James, a very distinguished English gentleman. And I loved all that fiction--I absolutely loved it. So everything went into the mix. I’m definitely more influenced by European writers than I am by American writers, there’s no doubt about that. I lean toward English writers. And for Merrick the novel that’s going to be published in October of 2000, I read a lot of Conan Doyle to get the British voice that David needs to tell that story. Question 3: Steven Wedel asks, Your attitude toward Christianity seemed pretty dim in your early Vampire books, almost as if you were saying God doesn’t exist. However, in your more recent books--especially Memnoch the Devil--that view seems to have changed. Has your outlook on religion changed?Anne Rice: Well the answer to that is I’m always looking, and I’m always asking questions. I mean, if you go all the way back to Interview with the Vampire, which was published in 1976, the vampires are really talking a lot about God and the Devil. Louis’s quest--my tragic hero Louis--his quest is to find the oldest vampire in the world, and to find out if that vampire knows anything about God and the Devil. The answer was, of course, rather tragic in Interview with the Vampire, but I go on asking, I go on seeking answers. Now in Memnoch the Devil, which happens by the way to be my favorite of all The Vampire Chronicles, we don’t know really whether Memnoch told the truth to Lestat or not--it’s left as a mystery, and that’s very deliberate. I’m going to keep on asking these questions, I’m going to keep on dealing with the supernatural in a lot of ways, and I can’t get very far away from Christianity, I can’t get very far away from the angels and the saints. I work them in always, in some way. In Merrick, Merrick’s voodoo incorporates Catholic saints and statues of the virgin--it’s in my blood, all of this, and there’s no pun intended there.Question 4: Christina Canali asks, After hearing of the time you were transported in a coffin in a horse-drawn carriage across New Orleans, I was wondering what plans, in any, you might have for your own funeral when your time comes. I’m fascinated to know!Anne Rice: Well, my own funeral! All I know is that I’d like to be laid out in a coffin in my own house, right here where I live. I would like my coffin to be put in the double parlor, and I would like all the flowers that are brought to the funeral to be white. And that’s about it. If I could then be transported to the nearby cemetery, Lafayette #1, that would be wonderful--that’s the cemetery where all my fictional Mayfairs are buried, but I don’t actually own a plot or a grave in Lafayette #1, so I don’t know how far that hearse is going to have to carry me. It may be to someplace out in the suburbs--the rest is unknown. Of course I would want the most joyous music at my funeral--I’d love people to sing a hymn called "I Am the Bread of Life", but after that hymn is sung, then it can be Dixieland bands, all the way. And merriment. And lots of wine served, certainly.Question 5: P. Wayne Hill asks, With all the talent in your family--your husband being an artist and poet, your son a published novelist--is living in your house different from any other American household? Do the three of you ever sit around and share ideas? I would love to be at the dinner table with the three of you and listen to the conversation.Anne Rice: You know, I don’t know if our conversation is all that exciting. We do talk about what we are doing to each other. We do, I don’t know--kind of report to each other what we’re doing. And at this point of course I am so proud of my son Christopher. I am so proud of his novel A Density of Souls--I thought it was really, absolutely wonderful. If I didn’t think it was wonderful I just wouldn’t mention it, so I can assure you I’m telling the truth. I was just blown away that he could write something at the age of twenty-one that was so intense and so good. But many times our conversation is just about family matters, just trivial things: where are we going to go out to dinner? What’s the food like? When are we going to have a family reunion? What’s going on with my mother-in-law? What’s happening with our cousins? It can be very mundane, very ordinary.Question 6: Kathy asks: How does the beautiful artwork for your book covers come about? Are you involved in choosing them?Anne Rice: Well, it’s a pleasure to answer this question. The artwork on the book covers is chosen by my editor Victoria Wilson. Victoria Wilson has been my editor for twenty-five years. She has a knack for coming up with absolutely beautiful artwork. She just has a real intuition where that’s concerned. She finds exactly the right thing. I think that the readers of the books very much appreciate the artwork that she chooses. I’ve loved it.I’ve been excited about every cover that Victoria has ever created. And I’m very glad that I’m at a publishing house that allows Victoria to have a free hand with that and to choose what she thinks is good.Question 7: Julie Schronk asks: I’ve read: Rice fans identify with the Vampires because we feel like outsiders. Do you see yourself as an outsider after all these years of your writing and your fantastic success?Anne Rice: First of all, thank you for referring to my success as fantastic. Yes, I feel like an outsider, and I always will feel like one. I’ve always felt that I wasn’t a member of any particular group. And I think that writers in particular as they gain success feel like outsiders because writers don’t come together in real groups. You can look at the New York Times Bestseller List and you can be pretty sure that the writers on that list don’t know each other very well. Maybe two or three know each other, but it isn’t like we all go to a party every weekend and we talk about our experience as best selling authors. That doesn’t happen. I also think that process by which you become a writer is a pretty lonely one. We don’t have a group apprenticeship like a violinist might training for an orchestra, or a ballet student might being in a company that does ballets. We don’t have any of that. We write on our own time, we write when we can. There may be writing groups where people meet but its occasional. You really do it all at your own computer or your own typewriter by yourself. Question 8: Sari Philipps asks: Thank you for all your wonderful stories. Do you personally visit the places you write about, such as Brazil or England or Paris? Or do you just extensively research. I love reading about all the places visited by the Vampires and Witches in your books, every location just seems so alive and I feel like I’m really there too.Anne Rice: I do visit most of the places that I write about. I have been to Brazil and I have been not only in Rio de Janeiro but also in the Amazon, and I really loved it. I wrote about it with great passion afterward in the book Violin. And I have been to England and to Paris. I love both places. In England I went to Glastonbury and I visited the supposed tomb of King Arthur. I also went to Canterbury because I wanted to see the cathedral there. I went to Stonehenge of course. I wish I had spent more time in England. I really do. I’ve been to Paris more than once, I’m not sure if it’s three times or twice. The Paris that I describe in my books is something of course that I have to envision because it is the Paris of the eighteenth century, but when Lestat goes to Paris now, and he sees things, those are the things that I saw. Some of the places I’ve written about I have not been. I have not been to India yet, and I hope to go to India, I want very much to do it, and so there’s some research involved when I describe those places. In Merrick, for example, I describe the Guatemalan jungle. I haven’t been there. But as I’ve said, I’ve been to the Amazon and I’ve been to the rainforest in the middle of the city of Rio, and that prepared me very much I think to write about that Safari in Merrick. By the way, I hope that safari was a lot of fun for readers. It was fun for me.Question 9: Deborah asks: What is the most difficult novel you have had to write to date?Anne Rice: The most difficult novel I have had to write in terms of just getting it done was The Vampire Lestat. That’s the second one in the Chronicles. It took a year to write. I had a very difficult time with it. Right up to a little over halfway through. Then, when the character of Marius entered the novel, I wrote the last 300 pages in eleven days. So I really felt terrific about that. But that novel was very hard. Now, there’s another way of looking at this question. The most painful novel for me to write was probably the novel Violin, which involved a ghost named Stefan and a heroine named Triana. And was about the supernatural and also about music. All of the novels involve some kind of pain and some kind of special difficulty. But I think those were the two most difficult.Question 10: Mary Arnold asks: The atmosphere and history of wonderful New Orleans imbues your work and setting. It feels so essential to the story of the Mayfair witches. Do you feel any of it could unfold in any other location?Anne Rice: Well, I am not sure. The Mayfair witches really were born to be in New Orleans. And I do love New Orleans with my whole soul. And I wrote The Witching Hour, Lasher, and Taltos, the three novels in that trilogy right in the house in New Orleans. It’s in this house that the Mayfair witches live. This house on Chestnut and First Street is the home of the Mayfair witches, and people know that. And I don’t mind people knowing that at all. This house is a character in the novel. The setting of Merrick had to be New Orleans, and I feel that Merrick is a very special New Orleans character.

From Our Editors

Now here's a novel you can really sink your teeth into! No one holds a candle to the queen of macabre when it comes to writing chilling, unforgettable vampire tales. In Interview With the Vampire, readers are invited into the world of Louis, a New Orleans gentleman and plantation owner turned vampire, who shares his shocking story in terrifying detail with an eager young reporter in an abandoned San Francisco hotel room. Recalling his extraordinary experiences throughout two centuries, Louis begins with his initiation into the ranks of the living dead at the hands of the sinister, sensual vampire Lestat. Hypnotic and erotically charged, Interview With the Vampire will keep you hooked to the bitter end. This is legendary author Anne Rice's masterpiece, and the book that single handedly renewed vampire mania.

Editorial Reviews

“A magnificent, compulsively readable thriller . . . Rice begins where Bram Stoker and the Hollywood versions leave off and penetrates directly to the true fascination of the myth–the education of the vampire.”—Chicago Tribune   “Unrelentingly erotic . . . sometimes beautiful, and always unforgettable.”—Washington Post   “If you surrender and go with her . . . you have surrendered to enchantment, as in a voluptuous dream.”—Boston Globe   “A chilling, thought-provoking tale, beautifully frightening, sensuous, and utterly unnerving.”—Hartford Courant