I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I begin my career at the tender age of 11. Our teacher instructed us to write about a group of black people passing through the Underground Railroad escaping the South by going North to gain freedom. It needed to be at least one full page. What did I do?
Having never really given much thought to writing on a serious level, I created a paper that was eleven double-sided pages in my extremely tiny handwriting. My story ended with a girl a little older than me shooting a man in the chest after he touched her inappropriately. As his lifeless body fell to the ground, she and her group walked across the border to freedom.
I wrote that story with a toothache and stayed up all night at my grandmother’s worn dining room table to complete it. I knew that this story would be pushing the boundaries. I went to a very small catholic school, where my courses were akin to, “What would Jesus do?” I KNEW there was going to be literal hell to pay. You didn’t write about murder, ghosts, or demons. The most appropriate book to read was the Bible.
There was a VERY strong possibility that I would be suspended. I wrote it anyway. That was the freest I ever felt as a writer. I never got to see the outcome of that story. That teacher was with Our Lady of Lourdes all of a few days, and her replacement would soon follow. I never even got my story back. I still think about that first masterpiece. To this day, I wish I’d gotten the chance to see how my teacher liked it.
I went to private school and suffered through divinity classes up until I was a pre-teen. I always struggled with making characters that were good people. The main struggle being, I wanted to write about demons, ghosts, goblins, and all of the fantastical creatures in between.
Then, I was introduced to Anne Rice, a New Orleans native, by accident. I saw her movie Interview with a Vampire. I’d never heard of Mrs. Rice. I’d never read any of her novels. But seeing this movie on regular television way back in the ’90s was enough to suck me in.
I wasn’t fawning over Brad Pit like everyone else seemed to do — he never did anything for me. Kirsten Dunst’s character fascinated me. I was drawn to this 11-year-old blood-thirsty vampire with long curly hair, that killed everything that got in her way. If this was just one character. I had to have more.
I had found my tribe. Anne didn’t write for the morally correct. She wrote these brilliantly intertwined stories and sucked you into worlds where there was no fear of God or going to hell. There was just passion, plot, and amazing literature. It was absolutely liberating.
I loved her novel Queen of the Damned. Even in the movie adaptation, the late singer Aaliyah captured this young, tyrannical, blood-thirsty queen fantastically. When I opened up my Twitter and got the news of Anne’s death, I was sad, but I had this quiet resolve about the news.
Anne lived her life on her terms. She wrote stories that she cared about, and she created worlds that you could sink your teeth into and take your fill, just like her fantastical vampires. I don’t know much about her life. I knew she was married for longer than I have been alive up until her husband’s tragic death.
Her personal life wasn’t in tabloids, at least that I know of. Her only scandalous encounters were the characters she created. I want my work and my life to be as unapologetic and at least half as memorable as the brilliant Mrs. Rice’s. So today, this is my public testimony about how the verbose, world-renowned, Anne Rice shaped my writing and reading.
Anne, I didn’t get to meet you as I planned. Your work has left a permanent stamp on my soul. Thank you for the bloody horror and downright brutal characters. Thank you for pouring your very essence into books that only grew in popularity even after being banned.
Thank you for setting this world on fire and filling it with the blood of those that were victims of your fantastical, damned beast. We are forever indebted to your greatness. I know you are in heaven with your late husband, telling him all about the wild ride you had us on.
This story was originally published here on my Medium page.