An Interview with Anne Rice

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Anne Rice is without a doubt one of the most iconic authors of modern day. Her works ranging from gothic fiction, erotica, and Christian literature have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide. Her latest installment in The Vampire Chronicles, Prince Lestat, is slated for release October 28, 2014.

What was it like growing up in New Orleans? What are some of your most fond memories of those days?

I was born in 1941 and it was another world — before electric refrigerators, washing machines, vacuum cleaners or air conditioning in homes. And my fond memories revolve around seeing the great changes that shaped the later Twentieth Century. I remember the first television introduced into our home with its tiny 6 inch screen, and little black and white picture. I remember when the great screen porches on Southern houses were removed or glassed in as air conditioning took over. New Orleans is a city of 18th and 19th century architecture, and it has an extraordinary atmosphere for an American city, and feels in ways like a Carribbean port. All that filled me with delight.

Can you tell us a little about Alice Allen? Did she leave a lasting impression on you in regards to being strong when faced with the challenges of the world?

My grandmother Alice Allen was a great role model, a strong elderly lady who worked tirelessly in the home squeezing oranges, preparing vegetables, sweeping, cleaning, cooking the daily meals, ironing the sheets, and the clothes, and she was very refined and very proper. She wore only black, or black and white dresses, and usually a black straw hat with flowers when she went out. She was a staunch Catholic, and gentle and loving with children. She invited us to help with the chores, made it fun, and provided love and security. She was an anchor in the home, always there. Yes, her strength has influenced my entire life.

What was it like when you first met Stan in High School? What did you love about him most?

He was handsome and brilliant, uncommonly brilliant. Unusual. He had elfin features, and was very tall and had an athletic grace. He was a fine student. I found him enchanting. I think “unique” is the word that captures him perfectly. There simply was no one else like him, no one who spoke so fluidly and with such crisp articulation, who read interesting novels, who questioned traditional religious beliefs with such intellect. He was sixteen, you understand. He swept me off my feet.

As someone who has lived through the death of both their soul mate and their child, what advice would offer others when it comes to dealing with such deep loss? Do you think love is the one thing we both leave behind and take with us when we go?

Losses are part of life, and we learn this more truly with each one. Seeing someone die is perhaps the only really supernatural event we witness in our lives. When life goes out of the person, it is truly all over in some unfathomable way. We have to be strengthened by this experience, and we have to let the grief flow. Modern life is too hard on the grieving. Grief is important. Yes, love is essential to a well lived life, but I do believe in an afterlife, and that it is a place of understanding and answers.

Do you think love is a must when dealing with the hardness of the world today?

Without question. As W.H. Auden wrote in his poem, September 1st, 1939, “We must love one another or die.”  In the West we are now in an era where the dominant theme of life is love, and how to love effectively. Competition for resources, resolving political conflicts, all is now being tempered and tested by standards that involve love.

What do you enjoy most about the act of writing?

I love most creating fictional worlds in which I can feel vital and work out all the problems of my life without thinking about them consciously.

What does it take to bring worlds to life by using your words? Is that a difficult task to learn?

I never learned how to bring worlds to life with words. It’s always been natural to me. I have a good ear for speech, for stories being told, a good “ear” for the prose I read, the storytelling in books, and when I write, it just pours out naturally. I fall into storytelling as if I was born to do it.

Are there any little known things about yourself that your readers might be surprised hear?

Not sure. I tend to post about just about everything that interests me on Facebook. I think my readers are used to hearing me hold forth on my obsessions. They know I love hard rock music and TV shows like The Waltons. They accept me for who I am. My fiction is shocking. But they accept it too.

Your work touches on the occult and things that cannot be explained. Why do you think such things appeal to so many people?

We ourselves are “occult” mysteries. We feel immortal though we are not; we sense that we have souls though we cannot prove that we have souls; we are witnesses to the process of a vast universe, yet we ourselves are so tiny as to be less than a nano particle in the universe. So “occult” literature is about us in symbolic ways. We are all vampires, ghosts, monsters.

Are you excited to be releasing Prince Lestat onto the world? What can the reader expect from this one?

The reader can expect a book set right now in the present time, and a book of huge scope. It’s not just about my beloved hero, Lestat. It’s about all his fellow vampires in the Twenty-first Century and the challenges they face in the information age, an age of ubiquitous video surveillance, and internet investigatory power. It’s a novel of love and loss and also modern challenges for my romantic characters.

What was it like to have Universal acquire to movie rights for The Vampire Chronicles? Any chance we will ever get to see the Mayfair Witches on screen?

Any license of movie rights is exciting but involves risk. The readers are passionate and want any movie to be faithful to the books; they look to me to see that this is done; and that means I must not betray their trust. I must do my utmost to do what I can to see the films are faithful. I love film and I want to see great films made based on my work. There is interest in the Mayfair Witches. Perhaps something will happen soon.

Of all your series do you have one you hold most dear or do you like them all equally?

My two Christ the Lord novels contain the best writing I think I’ve ever done. But my Vampire Chronicles series is dear to my heart for its intensity, the long continuity of experience I’ve had with it, and my deep devotion to my hero Lestat.

How have you changed most as you have grown older? What words of wisdom would leave to others on the subject?

I hope I’ve learned to be more patient with others, not to be so angry and irritable with those I don’t understand. I am an optimist, and as I advance in age I really do feel ever more strongly that most people, as Anne Frank said, are basically good. We have to allow our opponents their good intentions. We have to love. We have to acknowledge that kindness, no matter how hard or how mundane it seems, can save this world.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

My friend, novelist, Floyd Salas, told me as a writer to “Go where the pain is.” This was the best writer’s advice I ever received. As for life itself, my mother’s advice, that pain could make you callous to the suffering of others, or highly sensitive to the suffering of others….this was an excellent and helpful observation. I believe with my whole heart she wanted me to be highly sensitive to the pain of others. And though I fail at this, I keep trying.

What do you think is the key to a life well lived?

To love deeply and as Hemingway said, to know when you’re getting your money’s worth. Know how to be happy. Know how to recognize happiness when you are experiencing it. Know how to relax into love and into happiness. If you can’t do that, you may miss the greatest experiences and rewards of your life.

What are your personal feelings on ghosts and such? Do you believe the essence of a person lives on long after their body ceases to do so? What are your feelings on the afterlife?

I don’t know the truth on any of it. This is what I believe. Yes, there are ghosts. So many have seen them and reported on them throughout history, that we can conclude, yes, there are ghosts. My personal belief is that we are body and spirit; and when we die, our spirit ascends to another realm. However in some cases, the spirit may remain earthbound. It may remain earthbound as a ghost, and it may haunt or it may linger for any number of reasons, both positive and negative. But with most people, the spirit leaves the earthly realm. However it can at times still communicate with those on earth, and this sometimes happens. But what really happens after death? I have no idea.

The Near Death Experience research gives us very interesting clues into what may happen after death —- that we pass into a realm where we learn new things, reunite with those we loved on Earth, learn answers to questions that tormented us, and have new opportunities to develop. The most interesting thing about the Near Death Experience material worldwide is that it points to a “beyond” which is a place of change, and advancement. This is the opposite of the Christian Belief system which sees all learning and advancement as finished at death.

How do you hope to be remembered when your own time comes?

I hope I’m remembered for my novels, for writing books that had a strong impact on people, novels that transcended any genre and will live on in people’s minds and hearts.

Anything you’d like to say in closing?

Only that my appreciation of the Gift of Life increases every day. Once I heard a woman say on television, “Life is hard but life is worth it.” I never forgot that. She is so right. I’ve lived an extraordinary life and I continue to have extraordinary experiences. I’m grateful for all of it.

 

For more information on Prince Lestat please click photo below:

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An Interview with Becket

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Becket is perhaps best known for his work as Anne Rice’s assistant and for his own tales in The Blood Vivicanti and the Children’s book Key the Steampunk Vampire Girl. Long before all of that he was a Benedictine monk with a master’s degree in theology. His love for music began around the age of 11 when he formed a band with Sam Rivers who is now the bassist for Limp Bizkit. With his first self-titled album now available, it is an honor to sit down with him and learn more about what led to its creation

What was your very first favorite song?

Michael Jackson’s Beat It. My dad gave me a 45 record player, and his dad owned a jukebox. They were always giving me records. But that one I played over and over and over again. That and Phil Collins’ Sussudio.

Do you remember what it was like to meet Sam when you were 11?

I remember he transferred to my school. He and I started playing musical instruments together, he on guitar and I on bass. But then we switched one day, and now he’s a brilliant bass player.

Who are some of your earliest musical influences?

My biggest musical influence, which has remained with me ever since, was the first time I learned Metallica’s One. I was playing Hetfield’s opening bars. A friend, John Otto, had another guitar and he began playing Hammett’s solo. It was the first time I had ever heard real music harmony. The sound of our two instruments making music gave me chills. Still does.

Did being a monk change your taste in music a little?

It refined my taste. Before I was a monk my music was very intellectual and difficult for performers and the listeners. Being a monk helped me be more practical, which in many ways meant finding the beauty of writing a simple music. Now that is all I write.

Are people often surprised to learn that you used to be a dedicated monk given your current line of work?

Sometimes that happens. But I am an introvert and I do not share those details in conversations unless asked. I just write about them and put the monastic experience in the world.

Do you love all genres of music equally or are there some you prefer over others?

I like music that feels good and music that makes me think. The Dave Matthews Band is a perfect example. Under the Table and Dreaming is one of the best albums of the 90’s because it combines folk and funk peerlessly. Try singing and playing Satellite at the same time. It’s brilliant work. Some songs by a new band called Gungor does this too. But I also like instrumental composers like Arvo Part.

How do you balance your time as an assistant, an author, and a musician?

I am fortunate enough to have one of those jobs that provides a flexible schedule. But I also have the discipline of waking up at 4am and beginning my morning routine, which starts with prayer and then journaling, and then into a few hours of writing either books or music. The rest of the day is spent with Anne.

What was the most challenging thing you faced when creating this album?

The most challenging aspect of creating an album is that I am doing it on my own. I have friends like Raven Quinn, who has two albums out, and she has shared with me her experience with digital sales, CD manufacturing, and marketing. I prefer writing, and I would rather leave the cleverness of marketing etc. to other clever people.

What are you hoping your fans take away from this album?

Similar to my poetry, I hope that people can relate to the expression of thought and emotions in the songs. Each one is a reflection of how I like to listen to music while I think about other things. It’s background music for my brain.

What can we expect with this album?

Expect it to be mostly an instrumental album, utilizing cello, piano, and violin. But there are some rather large orchestral pieces too, and a soprano singing in elvish.

Is Anne a fan of your music? What do you think is the most important thing you have learned from working with her?

The most important thing that she has taught me is to create the art I want to experience. I wanted to hear every note I composed. So I composed an album that made me happy, but at the same time I considered how other people would react to it. I think it reflects my life so far. It is an album to evoke contemplation.

If you could work with anyone in the music industry who would it be and why?

Bryan Tyler. He composes brilliant movie scores.

Do you have a dream project you would most like to complete?

The fact that I am being productive in ways that make me happy fulfills my dreams.

What projects are you working on at the moment? Do you plan on releasing more albums in the future?

I have a symphony I’m working on. And I am also writing small tunes for larger works that I hope to put out in 2015.

 

For more information on the album please click the photo below:

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“Worms Were Coming and Going” by Phillip Ward

Worms Were Coming and Going

 

worms were coming and going
in and out of the heated ground
glowing white slimy worms
jetting in and out of pre-made holes
readymade holes just for them
there were hundreds of them too
and rather ghostly worms indeed
but silently lying low among
the burnt stumps of trees and bushes
was a copperhead waiting to leap
and strike his viperous tongue
into the next wandering victim
coming along his charred path
everyone takes the path daily
but not today not today no
because the hill is burnt black
with white ashes gathered like snow
blanketing the bare rattled land
even still the snake stayed coiled
and ready with tongue to pounce
but i take note and gingerly mosey
on along as though i do not see
his camouflage against the wasted land
so without any sign of fear or alarm
beneath my feet i quickly move on
and maybe he will consume himself
then evaporate into the smoke
that wafts about his dying
worms were coming and going
and i move on to live once again

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An Interview with Tracii Guns

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Tracii Guns is best known as the guitarist for the metal group L.A Guns. He was also involved in the formation of the first lineup for Guns N’ Roses and was in the supergroups Brides of Destruction and Contraband. He can currently be found touring with the supergroup Devil City Angels alongside Rikki Rockett(Poison), Eric Brittingham(Cinderella), and Brandon Gibbs(Cheap Thrill).

What were you like as a child? What would you say are some of your most fond memories from that time?

I was a typical late 60’s kid. My parents were way too young but, they were hip. I spent a lot of time with my cousin Lannie who was 5 years older than me. We were adventure seekers and music lovers. He passed away when I was 17 and it was awful. My mom loved to travel so we went on lots of mini vacations and camping trips. By the time I was 7 I had been to France and Mexico and had been to sleep over camp. I was ready for the commune, traveling circus kind of lifestyle at that point.

When did you first discover music? Do you happen to remember what your first favorite song was?

Mostly my mom and AM radio. I liked The Rapper by the Jaggerz and Bang A Gong by T Rex.As far back as I can remember I’ve loved rock n roll.

Who were some of your first musical influences?

The only real musical influence when I started playing was Led Zeppelin. They were mysterious and spooky and I was very attracted to the textures.

When did you know you wanted to be a guitarist?

The first time I heard Whole Lotta Love. I heard the Theramin in the psychedelic section of the song and my mom told me it was electric guitar and that the guy playing it was Jimmy Page. A little while later she showed me a photo of him on the cover of Creem magazine wearing the Black Dragon suit and I was hypnotized by that sound and image ever since. I was 5 years old at that point.

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What was running through your mind when you got your very first one?

I was thinking I could turn cocoons into butterflies and make magic happen. It had nothing to do with becoming a guitar player or a common musician. I just wanted to make big scary sound.

Do you have a dream model you’d most love to own?

I would love a fully functional 1952 Les Paul but, that’s a tall order

What do you love most about being a guitarist?

The ability to communicate my emotions to people.

What equipment do you use when touring? Is there any one thing you couldn’t do without besides the obvious?

I use an assortment of Budda Amplifiers. I also use Peavey Blues Classics sometimes with the single 15” speaker in them. They are very good sounding amplifiers. I prefer the sound of Combo amps and 2×12 cabinets. My sound has a lot more body to it these days than it did when I was younger. I also use a Blankenship Variplex 50 through a Budda 2×12 cab. I have my own Signature guitar with Dean guitars simply called the NASHVEGAS. Basically the sound and shape of a 51 no caster with an extra fret and a Floyd Rose tremolo. I also use a custom made Dean avalanche with two hot humbuckers and a Floyd along with Two Dean Thouroughbreds which are an amazing classic guitar. And last is my 73 Ibanez Doubleneck (nearly identical to the Gibson EDS1275) it’s the best playing and sounding double I have ever owned and was acquired from Ricky Mahler from the band Circus Of Power. Pedals come and go in my live setup. Generally A Wah,Delay,Treble Boost,Distortion and something that makes the sound wobble a bit every now and then.

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What do you love most about touring? What do you hate most?

Touring is honestly an escape from reality where every day is a new adventure and I get to experiment every night I play. It’s clearly an addiction. I miss my boy Jagger who is about to turn 6 years old. He is the joy and love of my life.

Having worked with such a wide variety of musicians over the course of your career have you encountered a lot of over inflated egos in the business? Why do you think some people develop that along the way? Do you think it is best to just shrug that sort of thing off and go about your work?

Uhm, no one has an ego as large as mine(laughs). Ego is the fuel that makes the flame burn bright. I think you mean have I encountered a lot of Narcissistic people in the business and the answer is absolutely yes! Some on the music/performance side and some on the business side. It usually just means they think they are entitled to something they don’t actually deserve and didn’t work hard enough for so they let ya know how great they think they are without realizing they are just another bump on the earth and that none of this matters in the end any way(smiles).

What advice would you offer others just starting out who wish to learn guitar?

Do it because you love it and practice a lot. Practice!

Why do you think music has always been so well loved throughout time?

Music is what the emotions sound like.

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What is it like to work with the guys in Devil City Angels? What projects do you have in the works next?

They are very humble nice people that just want to create and be recognized for the immense talents they own. It’s very easy to be this band. Ya never know what’s next and that’s what makes my lifestyle exciting to me.

Are there any particular moments throughout your career that stand out most in your mind?

All of the moments good or bad are deeply embedded in me and my memory of it all is incredible.

Any stories you are at liberty to share with our readers?

Without a specific area of storytelling nothing jumps out, basically Sex and Rock n Roll happen but, every human has their own story which is interesting to mostly themselves(smiles).

How do you think you as an individual have changed most since you first started your career?

I am much more enlightened in general as a human then I was even a year ago. The quest for truth and knowledge is very important to me and I am a father now which is a beautiful change.

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Are there any little known things about you that your fans might be surprised to learn?

I am a huge Enya fan.

What was the best advice anyone has ever gave you?

Alan Kovac told me that the music audience isn’t as cool as I think I am so, shut up and write a song that people will like!

What are your thoughts on death and what happens after? How would you like to be remembered when your time does come?

As far as what I have been able to put together using my own brain without someone else’s influence is that when you die whatever electrical energy you have been borrowing your whole life gets expelled and joins the rest of the electrical energy within the earth’s atmosphere. Your body decays and becomes soil. My afterlife I hope is that my creations touched people in a positive way and that I was maybe able to add something to the vocabulary of Rock N Roll music and that maybe someone picked up a guitar and wanted to play because something I played inspired them to do so. But most importantly I want my son to always remember until he dies how much I love him(smiles).

Anything you’d like to say in closing?

Stop reading this interview and go do something that makes you happy!

 

http://www.thedevilcityangels.com/

https://www.facebook.com/DevilCityAngels

 

From “The De-Greening of America Book Two” by Michael Ceraolo

And the failure of imagination was complete
And that failure was universally applauded
by those who worship the god of property values

And so a quarter of a million houses
were demolished rather than renovated every year,

even though only a fraction deserved such a fate,
even though there continued to be homeless people
And thus was created tons of debris
that filled up dumps and landfills
instead of being recycled and reused,
and thus trees were cut down needlessly
and people continued to be homeless

 

 
Michael Ceraolo is is a 56-year-old retired firefighter/paramedic and active poet who has had one full-length book (Euclid Creek, from Deep Cleveland Press) published, and has a second full-length book (Euclid Creek Book Two, from unbound content press) forthcoming.