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My Secret is Mine

Interview: Anne Rice, the Surprising and Scholarly Novelist

Interview: Anne Rice Writes a Surprising and Scholarly Look at the Historical Jesus

by Kristen West McGuire

(NOTE: Novelist Anne Rice is famous for her carefully researched tales of vampires and witches. This interview was conducted in 2007. Anne Rice died in 2021. She only completed the first two of her planned trilogy of books on the life of Jesus Christ, before abandoning religious institutions in 2010.)

Kristen: What prompted you in 1998 to return to the Catholic Church?

Anne: I returned to Holy Communion because I believed in it. The drive was so overwhelming that I didn’t ask anyone, not even my husband. I had to wrestle with a lot of questions, on original sin, on homosexuality, on many topics. Finally, I realized it didn’t matter what I personally thought. God would work all that out. I believed in God in the Eucharist and I would try to work my very best to be true to that impulse.

So, I went to confession to a particularly brilliant priest and then I went home and told my husband.

Kristen: Was he upset?

Anne: Art was religion for Stan. He felt we had to redeem ourselves by making life meaningful; you know, he was a very monastic personality. I can’t count the times I found him reading the Bible– he was drawn to it. He painted religious paintings; they were explorations of the miraculous. It’s amazing how often he went to religious themes. So, I did not fear to approach him about my decision. I felt secure.

Still, Stan was a “devout” atheist; his faith that there was no God was something one could compare to a believer. He wasn’t neutral. Our marriage was stable because he brought high principles for life and living to our union. There was never a question of throwing in the towel. His commitment was stronger than mine.

When I converted, we had to marry in the Church. I fully expected him to object, but he immediately recognized the wisdom of the idea. He had a deep respect for standing before the tribe and proclaiming the vows. He was very moved during the ceremony in the New Orleans parish I’d gone to Mass in as a schoolchild, St. Mary’s.

Kristen: I understand you were very ill in this period of time as well.

Anne: I went into a diabetic coma two days after getting married in the Church! The night before I was feeling very sick, and I thought it was just gastrointestinal. I have severe allergies, but I didn’t know I was diabetic. The healing after the coma was anxious and confusing. In a diabetic coma, your brain shrinks. I had no memory of that day, and my recovery was very difficult. I had a long, dry period. And at the same time, my faith was never shaken. God had in His wisdom had brought me back!

Death had always been a part of my life. I lost my mother in my teens, and my daughter to leukemia when she was not yet six. I was aware death could come and take someone. I always thought, “No one gets out alive.”

Kristen: I read that you decided to write only for the Lord so you could “approach the altar without convolution.” Tell me about that.

Anne: Everything was smooth sailing when I did this in early 2002. I didn’t know Stan would die. [Stan Rice died in 2002 of a brain tumor.] I was going back to the spiritual commitment of my childhood, when I wanted be a nun, to give my life to Christ.

I told God, “I have all these people to take care of and salaries to pay, but if this is what you want me to do, from now on it’s going to be completely for you.” I didn’t put this plan fully into place right away; I had already signed to write Blood Canticle.

That last book is the most densely theological of the vampire books. The hero resigns as a hero. He opts on the side of life. And it’s an uneasy book; there is a sense of the condemnation of the hero for himself.

Kristen: Has writing only for God been what you expected it to be for you as an author?

Anne: All of my early conceptions were shattered as I made my way through all of the scholarship. I’ve always carefully researched my novels. I go with the earliest, oldest, most consistent position, which in most cases corresponds to the doctrines of the Church. And I was amazed by the power of scripture to come at you. It’s inexhaustible…and explosive! I’m knocked on my back on the road to Damascus every day.

Kristen: Were you surprised at the divisions in the Catholic Church that you discovered after your conversion?

Anne: I was not aware of the fights between liberals and conservatives, the arguments and the litmus tests they apply and their reactions to my public statements– I am amazed. This requires a recommitment every day to the gospels. History shows that Christianity in organized form is filled with quarreling.

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My Secret is Mine

“Secretum meum mihi,” (“my secret is mine.”) was St. Edith's Stein's cryptic response when her best friend asked why she converted. We serve up interviews, historical sketches, Bible studies, book reviews and essays for Catholic women. MY SECRET IS MINE is for women with an audacious hope: that the Messiah makes all things new.

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