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Lifestyle

November 9, 2008

Ann Rice goes from vampires to Jesus biographer

Writer says she's through with vampires

NEW ORLEANS — Anne Rice has a new book — a memoir in fact — that's climbing best-seller lists. Everything is normal, then.

Normal if it were 1994 — the height of Rice's megaselling fame as a queen of Southern Gothic pulp.

For those who haven't been paying attention lately to vampire lit, America's most famous chronicler of bloodsuckers doesn't live in New Orleans anymore — and hasn't since before Hurricane Katrina hit — and she's riding new waves of enthusiasm: the memoir and Christian lit.

Her memoir, "Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession," is the latest piece of evidence that Rice is reinventing herself in an attempt to build a reputation as a serious Christian writer.

In the memoir, the 67-year-old writer doesn't disavow the two decades she spent churning out books on vampires, demons and witches — with a batch of S&M erotica thrown in — following the breakout success of her first novel in 1976, "Interview With the Vampire."

But she's clearly moved on.

In a telephone interview from her mountain home in Rancho Mirage, Calif., Rice laid out her goal:

"To be able to take the tools, the apprenticeship, whatever I learned from being a vampire writer, or whatever I was — to be able to take those tools now and put them in the service of God is a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful opportunity," she said. "And I hope I can redeem myself in that way. I hope that the Lord will accept the books I am writing now."

The memoir follows the release of two books in a planned four-part, first-person chronicle of the life of Jesus.

And in this new 245-page memoir, Rice presents her former life as vampire writer as that of a soul-searching wanderer in the deserts of atheism; as someone akin to her most famous literary creations — Lestat, her "dark search engine," Louis the aristocrat-turned-vampire and Egyptian Queen Akasha, "the mother of all vampires."

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