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Anne Rice answers Salon readers' questions

Published August 26, 1996 8:52AM (EDT)

in "The Vampire Lestat," when Lestat discovered Claudia had been
burned to a cinder, he tells Armand to scatter the ashes... to which Armand
replies, "Didn't you want justice?" This implies that Claudia did not
actually die per se, this is reminiscent of when Magnus leaped into fire
and threatened to hunt down Lestat if he did not scatter the ashes... this
confuses me, it left an opening for Claudia to return... yet she was never
reintroduced... and I'm curious why this opening was left in the book if
you did not intend to resurrect Claudia.

--Jesse Fenrison

Dear Jesse:
In "Interview With the Vampire,"
Claudia's ashes are scattered along with her golden hair as Louis and Santiago fight each other. So whatever Santiago says to Armand about it later is not actually relevant. As for Claudia's returning, we know she can return as a ghost. And ghosts are surrounding me. There is such beauty in grimness. But ghosts are often so intimate. What is
better? To be alone or to be haunted?

In your most recent column in Salon, what did you mean when you called
for, not only a "flat tax," but a "flat national income?"

--Sofia Greene

Dear Sofia:
When urging the Democrats toward a flat tax
and a flat minimum income I meant that we should do away with graduated tax
rates and the endless qualifications for "welfare." When people go on welfare
they have to "need" it. I was arguing for a flat minimum income, available to
everyone who registers for it. There's no doubt in my mind that Americans are
workers, and that a minimum flat national income would be self-limiting. Stop
punishing people for working. Flat tax, flat income. Let the American dream
of catching the Brass Ring exist for everybody.

Whatever you believe, I hope you saw President Clinton's beautiful speech in
the Rose Garden today -- August 22 -- as he signed the Welfare Reform Bill. He
believes in us as workers. I think the Republicans, after nominating Dole,
believe in us as suckers.

I have studied Nietzsche, especially Zarathustra, and have noticed
powerful similarities between Lestat and Zarathustra. Both go up and
down, both strive to affirm life and both are extremely religious
yet, at times, as philosophic children. I am curious if Nietzsche has
influenced any of your work, and if so how much?

-- Richard Bradley Hallberg

Dear Richard:
I haven't really read Nietzsche. I just ordered
all his books. What I know is hearsay Nietzsche. What I am searching for
personally -- and trying to create through Lestat or Azriel -- is a world-embracing
religion which also believes in an afterlife. In other words, eat, drink and
be merry, love and learn, and when you die, you will be received into the
light. We aren't citadels of "sin." Excess isn't evil. As for Nietzsche and
Zarathustra, they will definitely become part of my ongoing studies. I'm

How did you get your inspiration to write the Beauty trilogy? Was it
from personal experience, and if so, when were you a sex slave, and to
whom were you a slave to? If you were not one, do you want to be one? Is
that your ultimate fantasy? The books are very erotic and personal
favorites. I have heard that you are not going to continue writing
erotica. If that is true, why? Lots of your readers think you should
continue. Thanks for giving me many hours of pleasure lost in your
erotic, vampiric, witchy, supernatural, fantastic worlds!

-- Robin Rothwell

Dear Robin:
My dear, the Beauty Trilogy is all fantasy. I feel I
fulfilled my purpose with the three books and will write no more pure erotica.
But I do feel liberated to write freely about sex, as all my later books reveal.
Have you read "Lasher"?

In your vampire books, you write of the oldest vampire and that he came
from Babylon. Will you be writing more on how it all began?

--Michael L. Williamson

Dear Michael:
I do see my unnamed ancient vampire from Babylon.
I'm not writing about him yet. But I will. I see him in a short-form vampire
novel -- I want to do a whole series of them: Santino, Pandora, Gabrielle,
etc. What sort of short form? 150 pages -- a small format hardcover. On Babylon: I must return. I simply read so much on Babylon, I can't stay away. The city was old when Azriel became Servant of the Bones.

Finally, let me answer some general questions that came in.

1. Yes, I will return to the Mayfair witches. In many novels, I hope.
2. Yes, there will be more vampire novels, but in the short form for a while.
3. Film rights to "Lestat" and to the Witches are locked up at Warner Brothers. Why no "Lestat"? I don't know! Should we besiege them with inquiries? This is what I think: The team from the film "Interview with the Vampire" is all scattered. I alone remain. But sooner or later an actor or director of great passion will call Warners and declare that he or she wants to get one or more movies going. Then something will happen. Lestat lives. My script for "The Witching Hour" is alive and well at Warners and awaits the right genius. Since we're talking Hollywood, the genius will have to be bankable. But then Lestat himself is about as bankable as you can get. And so is "The Witching Hour."

A final note to Salon readers (for August 23)

Please remember my home readers' line is 504-522-8634. Tell me what you think of Azriel.

Also -- watch -- if you will -- for my ads congratulating Clinton on the
Welfare Reform Bill. They will be in Variety, Hollywood Reporter, New York
Times and Chicago Tribune.

Modestly yours, with love and vaulting ambition,

Anne Rice

By Anne Rice


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