Christopher Rice, 30, is an award-winning novelist whose work has been praised by some of the most respected authors currently writing.
Publishing his critically acclaimed first novel, “A Density of Souls,” at age 22, Christopher followed up with “The Snow Garden,” winner of a Lambda Literary award. After that, his next novel was “Light Before Day,” a mystery that was chosen as the first annual summer reading book by Frontiers Magazine and lauded as “book of the year” by best-selling writer Lee Child. Following that, he authored “Blind Fall” and “The Moonlit Earth.”
Robert Crais, author of “Chasing Darkness” and “The First Rule,” has said in regards to Mr. Rice’s “The Moonlit Earth,” “Christopher Rice shows his guns by weaving family secrets, breakneck plotting and true-to-life characters into a thriller of unusual depth. The Moonlit Earth is intense, moving and rich in ways that promise a stellar career. Well done!”
After reaching out to Christopher via his Facebook fan page, he graciously granted this author an interview. Approachable, intelligent as well as humble, there were no limitations put on the type of questions I was allowed to ask, and his sincerity and honesty in his answers speak for themselves.
1) Recently, your mom [author Anne Rice] initiated a discussion on her Facebook page about the effect of all the electronic reading devices on the publishing industry. Her opinion is that they can only help the publishing industry and that despite their ease of use, we will never see the end of the beloved hard-cover or quality paperback. What is your opinion?
Well, first off, I think the industry has a lot of things about e-books backwards. The “special features,” such as new introductions by the author, should be added to the physical book, not the e-book. The e-book itself is a special feature, and I think we should embrace its instantaneousness and allow it to have a low price point. Meanwhile we should beef up physical books with tasty, almost tactile bonuses that will justify their higher price point to the consumer. One of my publishing industry insiders recently informed me that the e-book editions of the new books he’s published in the last year have all outsold the physical editions by a dramatic margin — with one exception! History books that include multiple illustrations. I’d love to see this happen with novels. Would readers shell out extra for a physical book by their favorite author if it came with beautiful, spare illustrations they couldn’t find in the e-book version? This would balance the scales a bit, in my opinion. I disagree with my mother. I think we may well see the end of the paperback very soon, particularly if the prices of e-readers continue to plummet, which is exactly what they’re doing. Hardcovers may be here to stay if speciality publishers dedicate energy to making them beautiful collector’s items.
2) Does it upset you when people discuss your sexual orientation and how it resonates in your novels, rather than the work itself?
It does not. I chose to put it out there. No one forced me to appear on the cover of The Advocate when my first novel came out. However, I honestly cannot define what a “gay book” is. It’s one of those permeable, ever-shifting definitions that seems to exist largely in the mind of the individual reader. I’ve found myself on all sides of this issue at various times. What is a gay book? If my female protagonist is straight, as she is in “The Moonlit Earth,” does the book stop being “gay” even if her brother, who is also important to the story, is homosexual? I don’t get it. You can drive yourself crazy over this stuff as a writer. The fact is I write often about where the two worlds collide. But sexuality is deeply embedded in most of my books, even when the books themselves aren’t sexually explicit. And it seems to be a term we apply solely to writers show a certain fearlessness around depicting homosexuality. That doesn’t make their books gay; it makes them brave.
3) Who are your favorite authors … who influenced you the most … and who are you dying for a chance to read (no fair using your mom), and why?
Because I dropped out of college when I did, there are great holes in my reading of the classics which I long to fill. When I discovered mysteries in my early 20s, I just took off running into the genre. Oddly enough this happened after I published my first novel, “A Density of Souls,” but the influence of contemporary mystery writers is quite evident in my second book, “The Snow Garden.” Patricia Cornwell and Jonathan Kellerman, in particular. They were my introductions to the genre, and they were also my introductions to the great range of what was being done in the genre. And in both instances, their series novels included fully realized, wonderfully human gay characters who were fully integrated into the narrative. Another big influence, who I discovered some years later, was James Lee Burke. But this was all post high-school. In my teenage years I was a slave to the horror novel, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and the novel I’m working on now, “The Heavens Rise,” is making use of much of what I absorbed from those books years ago.
4) You have mentioned that you believe there is some truth to the statement “You can’t go home again” in relation to New Orleans. Is this because what you loved about it is no longer there, or because you are no longer the person who loved it?
I am no longer the person who resented it, is more like it. I had a lot of boiling, mixed emotions about New Orleans and my youth there which came to the surface while writing my first book. Those feelings dissipated over time. I guess I grew up a bit more. And of course Katrina softened my heart to the city and reminded me of how precious and wonderful it is. “Never say never” is about to become my new motto. I said I’d never write another novel set in New Orleans, and I said I’d never write a supernatural novel. With “The Heavens Rise,” I’m doing both.
Christopher Rice is the son of iconic author Anne Rice and poet and painter Stan Rice. He currently lives in West Hollywood, CA where he is deeply involved in library preservation and restoration.
He has just finished his latest novel, “The Heaven’s Rise,” a supernatural thriller that is sure to become a classic.
I hope you enjoyed my interview with Christopher Rice. Please check back often for part two of his interview, where he discusses the possibility of adapting one of his books into a comic and drops hints about his latest novel. He is, truly, a remarkable guy and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to talk with him.
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