Anne Rice’s new novel The Wolf Gift hit bookstore shelves and online outlets today, and she recently sat down with NPR to discuss a possible sequel, the appeal of supernatural fiction, the struggle between good and evil, and what’s next on her agenda. Read on for all of that and more!
When asked by “Weekend Edition” host Rachel Martin to explain who Reuben Golding, the man-wolf hero of The Wolf Gift, is exactly, Rice replied, “Well, Reuben is bitten by a werewolf, and he does contract werewolfism in the classical way. But when he goes through the transformation, it doesn’t have anything to do with the full moon, and he enjoys the transformation. He likes the increased strength, the increased power, the sensuality, the heightened hearing, the ability to move through the night, to go up a wall and go over a rooftop – he loves all of that. I mean, I know when I was writing it, I loved it. I loved that idea that he could go climb over the rooftops above North Beach and listen and hear people everywhere talking and whispering. And he had even a heightened ability to see through the cloudy overcast night and see the stars beyond.”
“This, to me, is one of the things I love exploring in fiction, period. I did it with the vampires. I did it with the witches in the Mayfair witches stories. I did it with Jesus, really, in the two novels I wrote about him. The way a hero sees the world, the way it impinges on him sensuously, the way he responds to the beauty of it – I love to write about that.”
With regard to what she found interesting about writing through the perspective of a werewolf, Rice expounded, “He’s a supernatural monster. He’s a man who suddenly finds that he’s not a man anymore. He’s something different. He’s something perhaps better, perhaps worse, definitely stronger, and maybe even immortal. I mean, one of the things that happens to Reuben is he discovers he’s resilient, that a knife wound or a bullet wound isn’t going to hurt him, that it heals almost instantly. And that’s very beguiling, too.”
“But, you know, I think the reason all of this works in fiction – when it works – is that these are all metaphors for things that are happening to all of us all the time. I mean, our bodies are mysteries to us. Life itself is a miracle. The fact that we’re conscious, that we know we’re going to die, that we can be witnesses to the universe… it’s what we cope with every day as we think about life, as we take a breath, as we move forward, as we confront the death of a loved one. And the great thing about supernatural fiction is you’re talking about those very things in a metaphorical way. You’re writing about a vampire, yes, or you’re writing about a werewolf, but you’re really just writing about human beings.”
As for how The Wolf Gift reflects her current understanding of the struggle between good and evil, Rice said, “You know, I don’t know if I have any understanding of the struggle. It’s just ongoing. But it pops up in all my work. I mean, all the characters are always talking about good and evil and where they belong in things because it obsesses me. It’s one of those questions that I can’t get away from. In The Wolf Gift Reuben can smell evil. He can actually pick up the scent of somebody, you know, attacking someone else. He can even smell innocence, and he’s very puzzled about why that is, why he feels such an urge to intervene on the side of good. And so there again I’m dealing with a hero that’s potentially evil but has a great capacity for good, which is just what I thought I was dealing with with the vampires. And he’s tormented about how to use his power. And I think what he shares with the vampire characters and the witches is a sense of being alone, of having to work this out alone. Because I think that’s what I feel very strongly right now, that I have to work out questions of good and evil, God or the devil, eternal life or mortality. I have to work that out alone, and I think that’s what a lot of people today feel.”
Finally, the issue of where her ideas come from and how she prioritizes them was raised. Rice offered, “I’ll have a whole bunch of ideas. It’s like zombies on the porch trying to get in the door. And finally one zombie makes it inside and the other zombies have to go away for a while.” And has a sequel to The Wolf Gift made it inside yet? “Oh, I want to do a sequel, but first I want to do another supernatural novel. And I don’t want to say too much about it because it’s, you know, all those zombies are really on the porch and they’re banging on the door. But one zombie is getting through the door. And I’m going out on tour for The Wolf Gift (click here for more info on that), but as soon as I get back, I do want to get to work on this new supernatural novel.”
Now THAT is some very exciting news for the fans. As soon as word comes as to what exactly this “new supernatural novel” might be about, you can be sure we’ll pass it on. In the meantime hit up the NPR link at the bottom of the page for the full interview, and look for our review of The Wolf Gift soon. For more info be sure to “like” Anne Rice on Facebook.
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