Anne Rice: Interview with the Believer
- Friday, October 24, 2008
Editor's Note: The following interview first appeared in the September/October 2008 edition of Homecoming Magazine.
Best-selling author Anne Rice, who gained fame for her dark, gothic novels—including 1976's Interview With the Vampire—discusses her return to faith with a new spiritual memoir Called Out of Darkness.
Gloria: Your story is incredibly intriguing so I’d love to dig around in your brain about all that is happening. You were famous and successful from any outsider’s view, and you had a whole entourage of publishers, assistants and all kinds of advantages. What happened in your personal story to precipitate such a major change in your life and in your work?
Anne: Well, it was personal conversion. In 1998, Christian faith came back to me and I went back to my church. And that was really what prompted me to change. I went on for a short time still writing the older books, but they had more and more Christian content. And finally in 2002, I decided I would write only books that reflected my Christian outlook and they would all be dedicated to the Lord. It was really, just a very personal, wonderful conversion for which I was very thankful.
Gloria: Was there anything before that moment that drove you back?
Anne: No, there really wasn’t. You know, one of the things that I need to stress about my return is that it wasn’t hooked to any particular loss or any particular event. It was nothing like that. I left the church when I was 18, and it was really an intellectual break and a loss of faith. I was a young college student and I wanted to know all about the world and so forth. And I went back as the result of a great deal of reading, searching, questioning—and also just realizing that I wasn’t an atheist—that I really did believe in God and I wanted to go back to church. I felt an overwhelming love for God and an overwhelming desire to return to the community of my childhood church which was a Catholic church. Really the main thing I remember was just finally no longer being able to fool myself that I was an atheist. I had been convinced that being an atheist was facing reality, dealing with the truth no matter how harsh it was, and I really didn’t believe…I guess I can say my faith in atheism broke down. I realized that this world was made by a loving God and that there was evidence in history and in the physical world, and my return was just one afternoon. I called my assistant and said, “Do you know a priest that I could talk to?” And she said, “Yes, I do.” And she called back in a few minutes and said, “He’s there now.” I went to the church and talked to him for about two hours and went to confession, and I was back in the fold. It was really a wonderful, wonderful turning point. But the really big moment for me was in 2002 when I was sitting in church and I decided that I was going to write only for the Lord. That really was the moment when my whole life shifted.
Gloria: In your new book, Called Out of Darkness, there’s a paragraph that I think is so universal with people who are starting a new or a return journey to faith. You talk about negotiating with God and you write, “One Saturday afternoon everything changed. I was seated in the pew and going through the great negotiation—what I would give and what I didn’t want to give and what God wanted me to give...” You’re trading out the fear of what He was going to ask you to do. In this whole section of your memoir it sounds as if you are coming to a new realization that you don’t have to buy God’s approval by doing something incredibly good.
Anne: I think it was the opposite. What I realized was that I wasn’t giving Him everything—that I was holding back. And I felt that I had to be able to give Him everything. If He really was the Maker of the universe—the Creator, the Lord, the Savior—how could I hold back? How could I say, “Well, I’m writing these books now. Really it’s not clear that I’m a Christian in these books, but it’s OK.” I realized that that didn’t work anymore. I had to say to Him, “Look, I’m going to put all my gifts—whatever I have—in Your service.” I was thinking more of the passage in Scripture where He says, “Go sell all you have, give it to the poor and come follow me if you would be perfect.” That’s what I was thinking about, and I was realizing how far short I fell from that by not giving Him my writing. And I resolved that from then on I would write only for Him. I would not write anything that did not reflect my world view as a Christian. And really my world view had always been central to my work. When I was writing about vampires I was writing about my own despair and the feeling of being lost and my own darkness. That’s why I called the book Called Out of Darkness. As a Christian I thought, “I have to start reflecting my beliefs. I have to start standing up for my beliefs in my books. I have to start letting these books which have always been about me be about the Christian me. They can’t be the old books anymore.” And so that’s what I was telling God—“I’m going to stop negotiating with what You demand, and I’m going to start admitting it.”
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