Anne Rice Interview: "Beauty's Kingdom" Throws Open the Gates to a New Era of Erotic Frolicking
Image attributed to Penguin Random House
Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, Anne Rice is one of the bestselling authors of all time, perhaps best known for her popular and influential series of novels, The Vampire Chronicles, revolving around the central character of Lestat. The latest addition to those books, Prince Lestat, was published on October 27, 2014.
In addition to her vampire novels, Rice has authored books in the series New Tales of the Vampires, Lives of the Mayfair Witches, Christ the Lord, Songs of the Seraphin, The Wolf Gift Chronicles, several miscellaneous novels, etc. Her erotic fiction, the Sleeping Beauty series, written under the pseudonym A.N. Roquelaure, includes The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty’s Punishment, Beauty’s Release, and the latest to be published April 21, 2015, Beauty’s Kingdom.
"Beauty ordains that all sexual slavery will now be voluntary, and she seeks to make the kingdom more fun for everyone. She sees herself as protecting the sex slaves and what they demand from their mistresses and masters. She is highly inventive and creative. It’s a new day in the kingdom."
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Anne, when we spoke in September of last year, there were so many projects to talk about, and I think you’re still riding that wave of success with your third novel, Cry to Heaven, set to be a new stage musical.
Anne Rice: Cry to Heaven, the musical has been in the works for years. Matthew Wilder, a brilliant lyricist and composer, has been working on it in Seattle. I think we’re really close this time to seeing it beautifully staged, and eventually it will open on Broadway. The music is beyond lovely. It is enchanting!
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Sounds great! Tell me about Beauty’s Kingdom.
Anne Rice: Beauty’s Kingdom takes place twenty years after the earlier Sleeping Beauty trilogy. Queen Beauty and her beloved King are invited back to the old kingdom where they met as pleasure slaves, this time to take it over and bring it into a new era. Beauty ordains that all sexual slavery will now be voluntary, and she seeks to make the kingdom more fun for everyone. She sees herself as protecting the sex slaves and what they demand from their mistresses and masters. She is highly inventive and creative. It’s a new day in the kingdom.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What was the impetus for you to continue the Sleeping Beauty series?
Anne Rice: Well, this is a new era. Fifty Shades proved that. The Sleeping Beauty series, which has always sold well underground, suddenly went mainstream. And when I reread the books, I realized I had more to say, more to invent, more to fantasize. I wanted to write more. I wanted more for Beauty and for all the characters.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How do you answer the critics who say these books exploit/abuse women and children?
Anne Rice: I have actually never heard anyone say that. I can’t imagine anyone thinking such a thing. Most people praise the fact that there is total gender equality in the books; and there are no children in the books at all. The books are praised for being authentic S&M fantasy and having nothing to do with literal violence or tragedy or damage.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Was the pseudonym A.N. Roquelaure used in the beginning because you were worried your fans would not approve of the genre, and have you ever received mail from displeased fans since you’ve begun writing this series of books?
Anne Rice: I used a pen name to have privacy to write authentic sexual fantasy. I was known as Anne Rice for a certain kind of book. I wanted to put on a mask and write something wholly different; pure erotica. Also I didn’t want my father to know about the books. As time passed, I told my father about the books, and also I realized I didn’t need the mask anymore.
I wasn’t inhibited by people knowing I was the author of these books. No, I’ve never received any criticism from my readers on the Beauty books. Some have said, “Not my cup of tea,” but I hear that all the time about everything I write. No problem.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Yes, certainly authors cannot please everyone. As you mentioned, it’s a different era, and then there’s the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey.
Anne Rice: I think Fifty Shades definitely opened up the market for erotica. As soon as Fifty Shades hit, the sales of my Beauty Trilogy increased dramatically. People were out of the closet about their interest in literary erotica. I don’t know how the world of film was affected. I just don’t know.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): When a woman says something is “erotic,” is that different from a man describing something as “erotic”?
Anne Rice: I honestly don’t know. One thing about S&M fantasies, men and women seem to share them, and many men enjoy passive roles and women active roles and vice versa. S&M seems blind to gender. I like that about it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Veteran writer/producer Thania St. John will pen the adaptation of the series for television. Any other details you can share at this time?
Anne Rice: Only that I am enthusiastic. Thania is writing the pilot; Rachel Winter is the producer. Rachel was nominated for an Oscar for producing Dallas Buyers Club, and she is very committed to Beauty and her world.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How closely will you be working with Thania?
Anne Rice: I am in daily communication with Thania, but she is doing the actual writing. I talk to Rachel and Thania all the time.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is erotica easier to write than the other fiction books?
Anne Rice: I’m not sure that the erotica is easier to write than anything else. It takes an obsessive focus, a kind of purity of mind, a surrendering to a delirium. That can be difficult. You have to kiss the real world goodbye and live in your mind to write the kind of erotica I want to produce. It’s a great challenge. I would say it feels different from writing other kinds of fiction. But every kind presents its own challenge.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are there any updates regarding the film Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt?
Anne Rice: The film is complete and going through the editing process. Things are going very well. I love the actors. Just love them. The release date is Easter 2016 or near to that. March 11 is the exact date. I am so looking forward to it. I think this is going to be a very powerful film, faithful to The Bible, but fresh and involving incidents not in The Bible, but true to The Bible. It’s exciting!
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Can’t wait to see it! You are frequently asked about your religious views because they have changed over the years. Would you call yourself a religious person now, following the tenets of the Catholic Church or a spiritual person that rejects traditional organized religion?
Anne Rice: I’m a deeply religious person now who believes in God and seeks Jesus outside of organized religion. I pray daily to Jesus for guidance, and I put my life in His hands. But I don’t argue with anyone anymore over theology or over which church says this or which church says that.
I trust that God knows all; and again, I pray every day for guidance. I also express my gratitude to God every day for the gift of life, for the chance to live in this world, for the challenge of seeking to live a good and meaningful life. I love Jesus with my whole heart, but I don’t have an elaborate theology about it. Love, faith, trust … these are what matter to me.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How do you feel about “Religious Freedom” laws?
Anne Rice: I think any law that involves discrimination against any class of persons is wrong.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): A recent article in USA Today discussing virtual reality says that “Soon cyberspace as we know it will end simply because we’ll be online all the time living in this blended reality.” Comments?
Anne Rice: Well, I am certainly eager to see whatever comes, and I am not afraid of the future in any way. I doubt people will ever live life totally online. Being online is one option in this world, just as reading books is an option, or living in the great outdoors is an option. I don’t fear technological complexity. I’m eager to explore it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): As an author and personality that has a strong presence on social media, how would you handle someone spreading lies about you or your career online, simply libeling you?
Anne Rice: This is a very good question, Melissa, because today many of us are indeed experiencing this. I have been targeted now and then for heinous lies. I try my best to ignore it. I am blessed with a huge readership, and I love my readers very much. I suppose if the day came when I thought I’d been truly damaged by lies, I might seek to contact the liars and ask why they are doing what they are doing. But so far, I have not seen real damage.
It’s painful to face that some people despise you and want to hurt you and that they lie in an effort to do it. But I do think ignoring it is the best policy. Now when it comes to more vulnerable people … young authors, indie published authors, authors just starting out, I am eager to defend them and to try to put an end to abusive behavior against them online. I encourage people to report abusive behavior when they see it online to the websites or platforms where it happens.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Great advice. On a lighter, but still a sad note to those of us who are fans, there’s one season left of Downton Abbey. What would be your dream ending?
Anne Rice: Oh, well, I want Mary to marry and be happy; I want Edith to marry and be happy. Not sure what I want for everyone at this point. I wish Tom would stay in England with the little girl. And I hope Thomas finds a lover.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Totally agree (laughs). What is the current status involving Vampire Chronicles coming to the big screen?
Anne Rice: Universal Studios is optioning all the books, and things are going extremely well. It is too early to give more details. I’m excited. Things look better now for a new Lestat movie than they have in years.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): That’s great news. Are you working on the second Prince Lestat book now?
Anne Rice: Yes, I’m into Blood Paradise, the new Lestat novel, and it will take me most of this year to finish. I think it will be published in 2016 but when precisely, I don’t know. My editor will make that decision. I am in Lestat’s world and living with him, and we’re facing a lot of difficulties as my beloved Brat Prince has to become THE Prince and not only behave himself but make rules for other blood drinkers.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Other projects coming up?
Anne Rice: Lots of irons in the fire but not at liberty to say. I want to get back to my werewolves and to my angels.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Great chat as usual, Anne. Thanks so much. Do you have any final thoughts?
Anne Rice: This is a very exciting and intense time for me, and I’m thrilled to be working again with Lestat and with my erotica in Beauty’s Kingdom. I take one day at a time. I have so many dreams, so many books in my head, so many characters coming to life in my mind.
I love being at my desk with no social calendar, no plans, no dinner dates, no vacations scheduled … just time, time to write and dream and write some more. It’s a golden time for me in a way. And I’m very happy my son Christopher Rice is a successful writer, too, and we can be writing buddies. I’m thankful for everything.
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