Interview with the Vampire is about a young reporter who ends up with a scoop he could never imagined in his wildest dreams.
A young man with a tale to tell reveals to him, terrifyingly, that he is no longer human but a vampire. His skin is glisteningly white, his fingernails like glass and he can move with preternatural speed – and of course, there are the fangs. He is over two hundred years old and is therefore unfamiliar with modern slang. And so the stage is set for an eerie, macabre tale.
He is made into a vampire by a callous and unscrupulous but charismatic character called Lestat, who appears to revel in killing and expects his sensitive fledgling to do the same. Louis, unfortunately, is unable to accept that his vampire nature now fates him to being a predator who like a cat, must kill in order to survive – or live a half-life. Or unlife.
Louis and Lestat both crave a family life, however and create a new vampire out of a six-year-old child, Claudia. What that means for this special new fledgling sets some unique challenges for her as she settles into her immortality, creating dangerous fault-lines of tensions within this ‘family.’ Louis and Claudia later set off to find out if there are other creatures like them.
In Paris they encounter an underground vampire society centred around a theatre group. The members of this troupe pretend to be humans acting as vampires, whilst taking victims in full view of unsuspecting audiences. They are led by another child vampire – made when he was 16. Perhaps because of this, he shows very little approval for Claudia.
The most interesting part of the novel though for me is that once again, Louis does not find the sense of community and understanding he craves among his own kind. What he encounters instead is what he calls a conformist club where the entire vampire troupe are expected to behave according to expected vampire norms. They have to sleep in coffins. They have to wear black. And of course they are expected to take pleasure in the kill. And thus too, from a style point f view at least is a whole subculture spawned – and this was written in the 1970’s!
It is clear then that Louis sees his predicament as a terrible, lonely curse and somehow we might suspect that will be no happy ending in sight for him in the telling of his tale to reporter, no matter that he still possesses something many people may greatly desire – immortality. But at what cost…..
Later on of course, we are introduced to a character who takes a very different stance on what it means to be a vampire in the world of Anne Rice but that, of course, is literally another story. Interview with the Vampire is, however, a much purer vision and conception of what it must mean to be conscious, yet damned to be evil by its very nature.