Another high-profile person (well, high profile in a secular way) has given their life to Christ. Ann Rice, writer of vampire stories such as “Interview with the Vampire.” has announced “that from now on I would write only for the Lord.” Her next book, “Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt,” will tell the story of 7 year old Jesus of Nazareth’s return from Egypt, a young boy who’s only vaguely aware he is the Christ.
Rice knows “Out of Egypt” and its projected sequelsâ€”three, she thinksâ€”could alienate her following; as she writes in the afterword, “I was ready to do violence to my career.” But she sees a continuity with her old books, whose compulsive, conscience-stricken evildoers reflect her long spiritual unease. “I mean, I was in despair.” In that afterword she calls Christ “the ultimate supernatural hero … the ultimate immortal of them all.”
I read some of Ann Rice’s earlier stuff, including the well-written “Interview with the Vampire.” Assuming her conversion to Christ is real, I’m eagerly anticipating this book to see how alive she makes Jesus’ boyhood feel. I think she’s taking a lot of liberties in her research – she’s including a lot the Apocrypha writings in her research which most Christian scholars have written off as inaccurate and non-biblical. But if she’s reaching out to people that normally immerse themselves in the world of the occult, then bringing Jesus to life for them will be a good thing.
Yet in the novel’s best scene, a dream in which Jesus meets a bewitchingly handsome Satanâ€”smiling, then weeping, then ragingâ€”Rice shows she still has her great gift: to imbue Gothic chills with moral complexity and heartfelt sorrow.
Rice already has much of the next volume written. (“Of course I’ve been advised not to talk about it.”) But what’s she going to do with herself once her hero ascends to Heaven? “If I really complete the life of Christ the way I want to do it,” she says, “then I might go on and write a new type of fiction. It won’t be like the other. It’ll be in a world that includes redemption.” Still, you can bet the Devil’s going to get the best lines.