Phone Message Transcript: February 23, 1999 [appearing on Anne's fan phone line, (504) 522-8634]
This is a message for the phone, and though it will appear on my website, AnneRice.com, I will be posting longer and more detailed messages on the web. I have come to believe that these different forms - - phone and Internet - - require different styles, and the web allows for some speculations that I can't squeeze onto the reader's line. Whatever, I thank you again for your consistently comforting calls. I was especially glad to hear from all of you who had enjoyed Mardi Gras down here. I missed it completely due to health and work on the new book for fall 99, but hope to be riding in the Orpheus Parade next year, with deep thanks to the Krewe of Orpheus for making me its "Literary Muse." How many of you use the Internet? How many of you know about Amazon.com? I just recently discovered that not only can you order books through Amazon.com - - we've been doing that for a long time - - but that the website publishes reader responses to each and every one of my books on an individual basis. I discovered something like over a 150 reviews of MEMNOCH THE DEVIL, some as recent as this month. There were current reviews of CRY TO HEAVEN, and THE VAMPIRE LESTAT as well, books published in the 1980's. In other words, Amazon.com keeps the discussion of books alive as new readers discover those books in paperback form or in used bookstores. A college student, just discovering the brilliant Bernard Malamud, for example, one of our greatest Jewish American writers, can go to the web and see current reader reactions to Malamud as well as discover how many books he has in print, or even out of print. This is very simply fabulous. In my college years, you had to drag yourself to the library, and look up the "old author" in various guides to periodicals and book reviews and then pull the magazines and papers off the shelf. It was awkward, and something limited, I think, strictly to scholars and teachers. Well, that's all over.
Here at last is a real forum for criticism that allows for true back and forth evaluation of a novel by its actual readers. This is highly creative and highly inspiring. It adds to the joy of writing, and the joy of reading. And it casts into the shadows forever, the often vicious, cynical, alienated and worthless reviews that appear briefly in newspapers and magazines when a book is first published. Amazon.com reviewers aren't motivated, like envious guys in the press, to trash a book just to see their own name in print. Amazon.com also invites authors to comment on their own works. Believe you me, I am going to take up the invitation, and do my best to make some intelligent comments on most of the books I've written. Obviously, Amazon.com provides a place where I can review books by others which I really love. Not trusting newspapers, I gave up writing print reviews a long time ago, though in fact I once reviewed books for the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, and the New York Times.
Those were the old days.
I advise young writers not even to read newspaper reviews now. There are so few, they are so poorly written, and the whole medium is so corrupted, that such reviews can be hellishly destructive to the courage and talent it takes to be a writer.
Well, you probably know more about Amazon.com than I do. I just had to rave about the situation. I trust readers totally; I trust in them as much as Charles Dickens might have done. And the purity of this system on Amazon.com is quite fabulous.
Barnes and Noble.com is doing much of the same thing. It's all quite a miracle.
I'm going to make one repeat recommendation regarding TV. Catch THE SOPRANOS on HBO. The show is getting better and better. It's not simply about the Mafia. It's not simply a one gag show, that gag being that even Mob Guys need psychiatrists and Prozac. The show is profound. It's episodes are beautifully constructed. Its actors are terrific. And the show is tackling with incredible skill, all the universal questions. The mix of good and evil in humans is being brilliantly explored. I see no limit right now as to what this show can do. I'm totally absorbed in it, and even stop writing for an hour each week in order to watch it.
Another wonderful fact: HBO and HBO 2 repeat episodes all during the week. This gives the show a remarkable chance to be discovered over time by more and more of the public. I often watch the same episode two more times during the week. The material is so psychologically and spiritually rich. This increases my understanding of it, and my inspiration from it.
I feel optimistic tonight as you can see. I feel that the Internet and the cable channels are giving tremendous and well deserved advantages to artists. Art is breaking free from the power brokers who once so ruthlessly controlled it in the market place, and art is also breaking free from the hateful vampiric professional reviewers who love to suck the blood out of it.
Let me answer some questions. SHOWTIME is developing my novel, FEAST OF ALL SAINTS, for a mini-series. The script I read by John Wilder is absolutely brilliant. CRY TO HEAVEN is still slated to be an operatic musical with gorgeous music by Matthew Wilder. (Last names here are a pure coincidence as far as I know.)
I am totally out of contact with Warner Bros. as to THE VAMPIRE CHRONICLES, or THE WITCHING HOUR books. Attempts to influence anything at the studio have proved to be anguishing and dreadful for me, personally. At this point, if anything of true consequence happens on my books there, I'll probably find out about it through the newspapers as soon as, or later than you might.
We are actively developing here new graphic novel versions of my stuff. But we're in the early stages. We believe in the graphic novel concept.
VITTORIO, THE VAMPIRE will be out in March. Lestat will return in the Fall. I'm committed to THE VAMPIRE CHRONICLES as one continually developing work, meant to have diverse parts, give pleasure and to elicit controversy.
Remember the spring novels - - PANDORA and VITTORIO are intended to be short novels. The fall novels, such as THE VAMPIRE ARMAND are intended to be longer. I am the one who pushed for this two novels a year plan; my publisher was understanding and has produced the books beautifully.
Writers who write as much as I do sometimes present real problems for publishers. The publishers can't keep up with the writers. My publisher is responding to me with warm and enthusiastic support, never deviating from its high standards of book production.
My house in New Orleans at 1239 First Street, is open to the public every Monday from 1 to 3 o'clock, at no charge. Worth it if New Orleans Greek Revival
Architecture interests you. Not possible to take reservations. Guides know the house and the novels that use the house as a setting.
I dream of the great Kenneth Branagh directing one of my books as a film. Could such a thing ever happen! I have no idea, but as Tom Waits says in his wonderful song: "You're innocent when you dream."
I love you,