Anne Rice, author, used to ride a horse-drawn hearse to book signings, rising from a coffin to welcome her audience. 

Rice, who has died aged 80 from complications of a stroke, is best known for the hugely popular Vampire Chronicles series, which includes Interview With The Vampire – later turned into the 1994 hit film starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.

Her books include the Erotic Sleeping Beauty Series and the two-volume Retelling of Jesus’ Life. 

Her most recent book, Blood Communion: A Tale of Prince Lestat, was published in 2018. 

Eccentric: Author Anne Rice, who has died aged 80, used to turn up to her own book signings in a horse-drawn hearse, rising from a glass coffin to greet her readers, and yet, she insisted, she was 'never particularly wild or crazy'. Pictured, in 1996

Anne Rice in 2016

Eccentric: Anne Rice (80), author of The Book Thief, was eccentric. At book signings she used to drive a horse-drawn wagon, climb out of a coffin and greet the audience. However, Rice maintained that she was not ‘never particularly wild, or crazy’. Pictured: In costume in 1996 (left) as well as in 2016.

In her blood: Anne grew up in an Irish Catholic family in New Orleans, which fostered a sense of storytelling. Pictured in 1976, the year she published her debut novel Interview With The Vampire. She went on to publish 30 books, selling more than 100 million copies

Anne was born in New Orleans to an Irish Catholic family. Her parents encouraged her love for storytelling. This is her in 1976 when she published Interview with the Vampire. After her debut novel Interview With The Vampire, she published 30 more books and sold over 100 million copies.

Announcing her death on Facebook, her son Christopher Rice, also an author, wrote: ‘The immensity of our family’s grief cannot be overstated. 

‘As my mother, her support for me was unconditional — she taught me to embrace my dreams, reject conformity and challenge the dark voices of fear and self-doubt. She taught me, as a writer and a poet, to ignore genre limits and to surrender to my obsessions.

“As Anne said goodbye to Anne, Karen, Anne’s younger sister, replied, “What an amazing ride!” We can probably all agree on this. We can all take solace in the fact that Anne has now experienced firsthand some of the most important spiritual and cosmic answers, which have shaped her career and life.

Howard Allen Frances O’Brien was her name. She was one of five children of Katherine O’Brien, a postal worker. 

Anne, named for her father, was given the name Anne by her mother to help her “get ahead in her life”, according to The Times. However, Anne rechristened herself Anne her first day at school and changed her legal title later.  

Anne shared these words in an interview she did with Event Magazine in 2016. 

Hollywood adaptation: Rice is best known for the hugely popular Vampire Chronicles series, which includes Interview With The Vampire – later turned into the 1994 hit film starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, pictured

Hollywood adaptation: Rice is best known for the hugely popular Vampire Chronicles series, which includes Interview With The Vampire – later turned into the 1994 hit film starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, pictured

Katherine was a champion for her daughters talent, encouraging them to do’something meaningful’ with the rest of their lives. Katherine was fourteen when she died due to complications from alcoholism. 

Rice explained that Rice knew she’d been suffering from a chronic illness for quite some time. Rice added, “And although it wasn’t obvious to me when I was young, it became apparent later that she consumed alcohol.” It was a relief that she was not suffering anymore, even though it is difficult to lose a parent when you are young.

Debut novel: Interview With The Vampire

Interview with The Vampire: Debut novel

“She was bright, intelligent, and full of dreams. I wish that she lived to see me make enough money so I could solve her problems and provide her with the care and treatment she required. My whole life I’ve wished I could save her.

They moved to Texas with their family. It was at Richardson High School that Anne, then 17, met future husband Stan Rice, then 16. It was love at the first sight. 

After four years, they got married. 

Their daughter Michele, five years old at the time, succumbed to leukemia in 1972. Stan and Anne spiraled into the darkness.

Race stated that losing a child was ‘almost too awful to think about. It would be a terrible thing to wish this on anyone. But, you can either choose to live or give up. 

Elle also said that she was considering giving up.  

“I was a heavy drinker and reckless, and I could have easily died.” However, my husband and me were determined to succeed. Our poetry and prose were, even though we didn’t realise it, the best weapons against despair. It was art that we trusted would not die.

Savior: Anne and her husband Stan spiraled into a depression following the death of their five-year-old daughter in 1972, but said the birth of their son Christopher (pictured in 2000) gave them a reason to live. Christopher followed in his parents' footsteps and became a writer

Savior: Anne and Stan were devastated by the loss of their daughter, five years old. However, after Christopher’s birth in 2000 they found a reason for living. Christopher followed his parents’ lead and was a published author.

Over-the-top: Anne Rice dresses up to sign copies of a Vampire Chronicles book in 1995

Anne Rice dressed up in a Vampire Chronicles book signer costume for 1995

Unusual: Anne kept a collection of dolls, staged in various positions, in a New Orleans property

A rare find: Anne owned a set of dolls in several positions that were displayed in her New Orleans house.

“And then was our son Christopher born.” [in 1978]After that point, I and my husband decided that we wouldn’t drink again. We kept our promise. We were then able to move back into the real world.

Rice says, “I don’t think our art could have saved us completely from drinking but our son did.” He was our reason for living. The time had come to end the mourning process, to stop drinking and to listen to our child’s needs.

Anne’s debut novel Interview With The Vampire was published in 1976. This happened four years after the death of their daughter.  

Lestat and Louis are his companions in the novel. Claudia is the vampiric child they adore but can’t grow up. 

Prolific: Anne continued writing into her 70s. Above, the author promoting a book in 2013

Anne wrote into her 70s, and she was still a prodigious writer. Below, an advertisement for a 2013 book by the author.

Rice stated that he realized, looking back, that the story was really about his daughter. “But I had no idea when I wrote it. Stan and I met in a bar one night and were talking about the book. One night I mentioned that Claudia wanted me to be five years old. Stan replied that Claudia was too young. 

“We didn’t know we were talking about our daughter. Lestat, Louis and Claudia were Michele. A novel is able to go further than a memoir, and it can reach the deepest desires of the heart. The book was something I felt the need to write.

Rice, who had worldwide book sales in excess of 100 million, branched out into witches (the Mayfair Witches series) and werewolves (The Wolf Gift Chronicles) over the years and leaned into the supernatural when promoting her books, even signing in ‘blood’. Rice also had life-sized dolls kept in one her properties. 

But she maintained that she did not believe the portrayal of her image.   

‘I wasn’t into the lifestyle myself. I’ve always lived a fairly conservative life. I’ve never been particularly wild or crazy,’ she said. 

Stan was 41 years married when he died from a brain tumour in 2002.

Rice in 2016 stated that Rice only had one positive thing to add about his death. It was five months. Rice stated, “He’s my only love and the man I am most infatuated with. He was and is the love of all my lives.  

Christopher Anne, Anne’s son, has announced Anne’s death via Facebook yesterday. 

Final goodbye: Anne is survived by her son, Christopher, who announced her death on Facebook yesterday. She died on Saturday from a complication of a stroke

Final goodbye: Anne is survived by her son, Christopher, who announced her death on Facebook yesterday. Her stroke complications led to her death on Saturday.

He wrote: ‘Earlier tonight, Anne passed away due to complications resulting from a stroke. Her death occurred almost nineteen years ago. 

“In her last hours, I sat next to her hospital bed, in awe at her achievements and her courage. Awash with memories of a life that brought us from fog-laden hills in San Francisco Bay Area, to New Orleans, to Southern California’s twinkling vistas, to magical streets in New Orleans, to the magic streets of New Orleans. 

“Throughout most of her last years, her contributions to this page brought much joy along with a deep sense of community and friendship.