By Tina Riddle
Famous for her vampire fiction, Anne Rice has set out to redefine the supernatural genre of werewolves. In her new series, The Wolf Chronicles, which launched in 2012 with The Wolf Gift, she introduced a new hero, Reuben Golding. After being bitten by a mysterious beast, Golding finds himself transforming into a werewolf, or, as Rice perceives it, a "man wolf" who never loses his human consciousness or his awareness as he changes.
We reached Rice by phone as she was preparing to leave for the last leg of her tour for her latest book, The Wolves of Midwinter, the second installment in the Wolf Chronicles series.
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Can you tell me a little about how this new wolf series, The Wolf Chronicles, came into being? Someone suggested to me that I might try werewolves, and the suggestion came at just the right time. I was looking for something new to do and I thought, all right, I think I'll try that, and I wrote The Wolf Gift. What I discovered while I was writing the book [was] that I could make the werewolf theme acceptable to myself largely by dealing with a conscious "man wolf," a man that doesn't lose his self-awareness when he becomes a werewolf. He is aware of who he is, he can speak, he can think, and he remembers everything that he does. For me, that opened up the whole werewolf genre to a new level. I really enjoyed creating this character, Reuben, giving him my version of how he dealt with the transformation and what he discovers about the origin of the species of the werewolf. So, it was really just a whim, I mean, that's how most fiction for me starts, with a whim.
In your past series, The Vampire Chronicles and The Mayfair Witches, the stories ran along parallels that included crossovers with vampire and witch characters. Is this new series also parallel? Will we be seeing characters from other books? I don't want to do anymore crossovers. I'm not sure that crossovers really work for me. The texture of each series is so distinct, the ambiance, the personalities; I just don't want to play around with crossovers anymore. What I do have, in The Wolves of Midwinter, are other kinds of immortals coming into the story. They are all unique to the Wolf Gift Chronicles. There is a group of spirits called the forest gentry, who live in the forest, and there is another mystery, regarding a certain kind of ageless person.
Who is your favorite character in The Wolf Chronicles? Who is your least favorite? Reuben, my hero, he's my favorite character for sure, the story is written from his point of view, it's not in the first-person, but it's following Reuben and his adventures as he gets deeper and deeper into the world of the man wolf.
As for my least favorite, I don't know. I really don't write characters I don't love. Sometimes the characters that you love are the hardest to write. I really love all of the characters; I don't get much mileage out of characters that I don't love. Some authors do, you know, they write from anger or from a critical standpoint, and that's fine, and they write very well, but I don't write from that point of view. I write from the point of view of embracing the character, sort of with love.
I guess the least favorite character in the novel is a woman named Celeste, an old girlfriend of Reuben's, she's pretty horrible. She's an awful antagonist.
Who did the cover art for your latest book, The Wolves of Midwinter? I don't know actually. The publisher chose that cover art. I would not have chosen that. I prefer that the cover indicate what's inside the book. I think they needed a scary cover, a cover that indicated that this was a Gothic, Christmas novel with ghosts, immortals, and ancient yuletide rituals. I wanted a much darker, frightening cover.
What are you working on now? Are there more wolves to come? Yes, I definitely want to do a third book. I don't know how many will be after that, maybe a lot. I don't really plan a series; I just proceed book by book.
You and your son, Christopher Rice, are on tour together for the first time. Are you enjoying your tour together? Oh, I loved it, it was so much fun. He was just great, he is a great traveling companion and he's great doing staging, he's very engaging. He's very funny and kept the audience in stitches. He has his own radio show (The Dinner Party Show with Christopher Rice and Eric Shaw Quinn), so he's got quite a personality, and is a lot of fun.
What do you think about your son's new book, The Heavens Rise? I thought his new novel was terrific. I'm glad he's now writing the supernatural -- he's a natural at that kind of thing. I'm eager to see what he's going to do with it. I love supernatural fiction, obviously.
Do you see yourself and Christopher ever collaborating on a book? No. No, we both have too many projects of our own. I'm not a collaborative writer, I can't collaborate, I've tried. I can't do it.
Do you have anything that you would like to say to your readers? Just how much I love them. I love seeing them at the signings, seeing them on tour and on the Facebook page. (Anne Rice's Facebook fan page, where she answers questions and does daily posts, has over 927,000 followers.) I've always been very close to my readers, and that's why book tours are a special pleasure. Book tours are always exhausting but well worth it and very rewarding.
Do you have any advice for the writers among your fan base? I have a lot of YouTube about advice to writers and I answer questions all the time. Basically it's always the same advice: Go for it; don't let anybody stop you. Don't take no for an answer; just do it. Make yourself the writer you want to be. Just write and do not, do not allow yourself to be discouraged.
Rice will sign The Wolves of Midwinter (hardcover $26) starting at 6 p.m. Thursday, November 14, at Changing Hands Bookstore. Rice is accompanied on her book tour by her son and fellow author Christopher Rice, who will sign copies of his latest novel, The Heavens Rise (hardcover $26). Tickets are required for the signing and are free with purchase of either book. The line forms at 5:30 p.m. Visit www.changinghands.com or call 480-730-0205.