Anne Rice, whose novels of the supernatural were much loved by LGBTQ+ audiences and whose gay son, Christopher, followed in her footsteps as a writer, has died at age 80.
Christopher Rice wrote on social media that his mother died Saturday of complications from a stroke. He was at her bedside at the time of her death.
Anne Rice was best known for her Vampire Chronicles series, which started with 1976's Interview With the Vampire, centering on vampires Louis and Lestat. It received poor reviews but was a hit with readers, and it was made into a popular 1994 film starring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, directed by Neil Jordan. It is now being developed as a TV series by AMC. The latest book in the series, Blood Communion, was published in 2018.
Her books about vampires and other supernatural beings were noted for their homoeroticism, although vampires don't have sex with each other. She told The Advocate in 2000 that the homoeroticism developed organically in her books.
"It's important to me as a writer to let everything come spontaneously and not think too much about it," she said. "I don't sit down and think, I'm going to write about gay characters or I'm going to write about a homoerotic theme. It just keeps happening in my work pretty naturally."
She was surprised when Christopher came out to her, however. "I thought he was straight," she said. She worried about the prejudice he would likely face, but she didn't love him any less, she emphasized.
Christopher has become a best-selling author too, with crime novels, erotic romances, and, like his mother's work, stories of the supernatural. He once told The Advocate that he worried less about readers' resistance to a gay author than the perception that his success was due to his famous mother. He also wrote an Advocate column for a time.
Anne Rice's work extended beyond vampires. Her dozens of books included a series of erotica written under the name A.N. Roquelaure, freestanding novels such as Exit to Eden, written under the name of Anne Rampling, and other freestanding books and series under her own name. In addition to vampires, she wrote about witches, werewolves, and even Jesus Christ. Her work was informed by her Roman Catholic upbringing, but she had a complicated relationship with the faith, leaving it, returning to it, and leaving it again. In 2010, she said she was leaving all organized religion, explaining, "I refuse to be antigay. I refuse to be antifeminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control."
Rice grew up in New Orleans but spent much of her adult life in California while maintaining a New Orleans home, as that city was an inspiration to her and the setting for many of her novels. She was married to poet Stan Rice, who died in 2002. Besides Christopher, her only other child was Michelle, a daughter who died of leukemia at age 5 in 1972.