Monday, September 27, 2004

Vampire queen versus Amazon


The now defunct Eaton's department store used to advertise that satisfaction was guaranteed or your money refunded. But no novelist we know of has ever made a similar offer to the public — until now.

Writer Anne Rice, whose extravagant fictions about vampires and witches have made her famous and rich, vents her anger at readers who dare criticize her latest book Blood Canticle on the website and ends her lengthy, single-paragraph tirade by giving her home address in New Orleans and promising refunds to the disgruntled.

"And if you want your money back for the book, send it to 1239 First Street, New Orleans La. 70130. I am not a coward about my real name or where I live," she writes in a message posted Sept. 6 in response to the harsh criticisms and expressions of disappointment from dozens of readers. "And how glad I am that this book is the last one in a series that has invited your hateful and ugly responses."

Blood Canticle is the ninth and final instalment in the Vampire Chronicles, the series Rice began in 1973 with her first published novel Interview With A Vampire. Three books in the series have become feature films.

Blood Canticle is narrated by her best known character, the vampire Lestat, a handsome Byronic bloodsucker who kills only drug dealers and other lowlifes. The Brat Prince, as he is known, is almost 300 years old but keeps up with the times, using e-mail and slang such as "dude," "yo" and "shove it" — one of the things her readers found jarring.

"The whole book was one long cringe from beginning to confused end," wrote a reader calling herself Taryn from Auckland, N.Z.

Another Amazon customer who identified himself as Justin Raventhorn wrote, "Rice stopped writing in her glory after Tale Of The Body Thief" and that Mona Mayfair, Lestat's new love interest (a crossover from another Rice series), is "annoying, irritating and idiotic."

Deborah Waddell of Fort Myers, Fla. missed Rice's vivid descriptions and characterizations: "I do not think this book was even written by Anne Rice."

In all, the book has received 232 customer reviews on since publication late last year. Not all of them are negative but, evidently stung, Rice writes to the negative reviewers: "Your stupid arrogant assumptions about me and what I am doing are slander. And you have used this site as if it were a public urinal to publish falsehood and lies."

Rice praises herself for the effort she puts into polishing her prose and reveals that she refuses to be edited.

According to Patti Smith, a spokesperson for, it is not unusual for hostilities to break out on the site between readers and authors. "We don't keep track of these things. If Anne Rice chooses to respond, we'll post it, but the site is primarily for customers to have their say," Smith said yesterday.

The site's Canadian version,, stirred controversy in February when it advertently revealed the real identities of the readers posting reviews, and it emerged that several prominent authors used pen names to post five-star reviews for themselves or their friends.

Smith points out that there are guidelines for reviews and violating them can result in Amazon removing a review, but "in this case no one asked us to."

The review guidelines ask that readers not give away endings and use no "profanity, obscenities, or spiteful remarks."

Rice will turn 63 next month, and the death of her husband Stan while she was writing Blood Canticle seems to have hit her hard. She had been married to him for 41 years and she said he was her model for Lestat. - Vampire queen versus Amazon

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