In the now-classic novel Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice refreshed the archetypal vampire myth for a late-20th-century audience. The story is ostensibly a simple one: having suffered a tremendous personal loss, an 18th-century Louisiana plantation owner named Louis Pointe du Lac descends into an alcoholic stupor. At his emotional nadir, he is confronted by Lestat, a charismatic and powerful vampire who chooses Louis to be his fledgling. The two prey on innocents, give their “dark gift” to a young girl, and seek out others of their kind (notably the ancient vampire Armand) in Paris. But a summary of this story bypasses the central attractions of the novel. First and foremost, the method Rice chose to tell her tale–with Louis’ first-person confession to a skeptical boy–transformed the vampire from a hideous predator into a highly sympathetic, seductive, and all-too-human figure. Second, by entering the experience of an immortal character, one raised with a deep Catholic faith, Rice was able to explore profound philosophical concerns–the nature of evil, the reality of death, and the limits of human perception–in ways not possible from the perspective of a more finite narrator.
Interviewer: We’ve talked about your human life, so I suppose that my next question will be obvious. How did you become a vampire?
Louis: After my wife left me, I went through a hard time. I didn’t care much about anything, especially life. Lestat, my vampire daddy found that apathy appealing and decided I would make a great immortal, so he changed me.
Interviewer: Was the change painful?
Louis: No, it was more like an awakening of the senses. But I was hopelessly drunk at the time, so that might have had some influence on my perceptions.
Interviewer: What was the most unexpected change?
Louis: How aware I was of how much blood is in the human body. Take you for example, I can see the pulse in your neck, the blood racing through the veins in your arm-there’s no need to hide it, I promised not to kill you. Besides, I’ve already eaten today.
Interviewer: Do you keep track of how many people you kill?
Interviewer: What about how many people you turn?
Louis: I’ve only turned one person, an orphan girl I found starving on the streets. She reminded me of my wife; she could have been our daughter.
Interviewer: Where is she now.
Interviewer: How did that happen?
Louis: After a few decades, I got into an argument with Lestat. He didn’t appreciate the things I said, and took it out on Victoria. I didn’t see it happen, but as soon as I found her body I knew what had happened.
Interviewer: What was it that you were arguing about?
Louis: I wanted to turn her back to human, and he said that it was impossible. But I hadn’t given up. We’d searched for answers for centuries, and I was on my way to ask the oldest of our kind, but Lestat was against it. Armand, the father of the vampires, can be cruel and unpredictable. There’s no telling how he would have reacted, all three of us very well may have been killed.
Interviewer: How did you react to her death?
Louis: When you live forever, If you wish to take up a grudge, you must remember that it is for forever. There are only so many vampires, and humans are too fragile and tempting for good company. If you alienate another vampire, it is for good. I did not take that path, I chose to stay with Lestat.
Interviewer: So you rarely interact with humans?
Louis: Humans are a food source, nothing more. I’m surprised at myself for speaking to you; perhaps it is your lack of belief in what I say that makes you unique. Usually the people who seek me out are believers. They’re usually drugged out of their minds, and much to trivial for me to even consider turning them so I suppose you are refreshing.
Interviewer: Vampires are things of legend, you can’t expect me to just believe in the monster simply because you tell me you are one.
Louis: Would you care for a demonstration?
Interviewer: No, no, no, that won’t be necessary. I’m almost late for an appointment, so I have to go.
Louis: Are you sure you don’t wish to stay, I have to much more to tell you.
Interviewer: Perhaps another day, maybe next week. Same time, same place.
Louis: I will find you, wherever you may be. Good day.