Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Meeting Anne Rice (TIBF)

Last weekend, I took part in the inaugural INSPIRE! Toronto International Book Fair. Along with other members of the Ontario Chapter of the Horror Writers Association, I chatted about all things horror over the course of four days.

Although this was the primary reason for being there, the fan in me took over for a couple of hours when I had the opportunity to meet the author who solidified my interest in vampires in the first place: Anne Rice!

Brad Middleton, unabashed book nerd
Although I'd been a casual fan of the classic Universal and Hammer vampire films, it wasn't until the mid-80s that I first read Interview with the Vampire--and I've been hooked ever since. I'd been eagerly anticipating the release of Rice's latest novel, Prince Lestat, since she announced the return of the Brat Prince back in March. So when the opportunity arose to meet my literary idol, I jumped at the chance.

There were two book signings planned for Rice, and I went to the first session. The turnout was good, but being a Friday afternoon, the lineup wasn't enormous. As fans patiently awaited her arrival, we were all given a pair of plastic fangs, which were reminiscent of the dime-store variety that we used to buy as kids. You know, the kind that impair your speech, and make you salivate uncontrollably. Great fun! I'm sure a lot of selfies, like the one below, hit social media that day.

Anne's fans take a selfie! (Photo: Brad Middleton)

Meeting Anne Rice (Photo: Brad Middleton)
Once Anne arrived, it wasn't long before it was my turn meet her. The trouble was, how could I express, in thirty seconds, just how much of an influence she has had on my life, both personally and professionally? As I found out, it was impossible.

Judging by the photos taken at the time, I just made strange faces, and likely blabbered on without forming complete sentences.

Anne Rice (Photo: © Brad Middleton)
Still, I'm sure I wasn't the only one who had trouble expressing myself that day. But I'm certain that Anne could sense just how much her fans appreciated her work. As I mentioned, she also had a signing on Saturday, which was met by legions of her fans--and she began the day with an hour-long chat with Mark Askwith, the co-creator of the cult Canadian TV show Prisoners of Gravity. It was during this discussion that she announced her next book will be a follow-up to Prince Lestat, tentatively titled Blood Paradise. Great news!

So tonight, as I open the pages of Prince Lestat, I'll slip back into the world I was first introduced to over twenty-five years ago--and I cannot wait to catch up with Lestat and co. Thank-you, Anne.

PRINCE LESTAT, signed by Anne Rice (Photo: © Brad Middleton)

Becket (Photo: © Brad Middleton)
In closing, here's a photo of Anne's assistant Becket, who at the time had just received a Doctor Who Christmas tree ornament from a fan. He was wearing a really cool "Lestat is back" book tour t-shirt--I'll be putting this at the top of my Christmas list, but I'm pretty sure it's a very rare piece of clothing.


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