Yen Press, the graphic novel and manga imprint at Hachette, will adapt Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire into a new graphic novel with the same plot but a new point of view: the story will be told by Claudia, a child who is transformed into a vampire by Louis, the narrator of the original novel. Newcomer Ashley Marie Witter will illustrate the story, which will be published as a single volume in fall 2012.
Interview with the Vampire is the first book in Rice's 10-volume series The Vampire Chronicles, and Rice said she is "intrigued" by the idea of retelling her story from a different point of view. "I have gone all through The Vampire Chronicles writing from the point of view of different characters, so it is completely legitimate to do that," Rice said. "Lestat [another vampire] tells you a completely different version of events than Louis. Who do you believe?"
Yen Press has a history with vampires: its adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight was one of the bestselling graphic novels of 2010, according to Nielsen BookScan.
Rice grew up reading Classics Illustrated comics and horror comics like Tales from the Crypt. "I remember reading Jane Eyre in the Classics comics and how much I loved the details and seeing the madwoman in the attic in those little panels and seeing the whole novel play out," she said. "What always drew me were very detailed, representational drawings, rather than something abstract. I wanted to see a lot of richness and a lot of depth." Graphic novels, she said, "have a freedom that is all their own to create an entire universe in detail fairly inexpensively, compared to a film."
"I am looking at the drawings, they have such wonderful detail in the costumes, and in my work costumes are almost like a character," said Rice. "They are part of the work, and they got that. What I look for in a movie or a book like this is the essence—baroque detail, sensuality, luxurious hair, faces that are intriguing and deep—and they got it here."
Witter, who lives in Madison, Wis., has drawn two webcomics, Reign of Adeodatus and Scorch, and contributed to the comics anthology The Eternal Sad, but this project is her first full-length graphic novel. That doesn't disturb Yen Press senior editor JuYoun Lee, who pointed out that Yen Press's bestselling adaptations of James Patterson's Maximum Ride and Meyer's Twilight were both debut books for their respective artists as well. "No matter how new they might be, I believe the artist has the best idea of how to make each page visually impactful," said Lee.
"On Interview with the Vampire there were lots and lots of brainstorming and conversations at the beginning, because we wanted to make sure we were understanding Claudia as much as possible," Lee said. "For the artist, especially if they are new, the core has to be that they understand the characters."
This is not the only transformation of Rice's supernatural work. Another publisher, IDW, is adapting Rice's Servant of the Bones into single-issue comics, and several of Rice's works, including Interview with the Vampire, were adapted into serial comics in the early 1990s. Director Neil Jordan made the book into a movie in 1994.
Rice said that revisiting the novel, which was first published in 1976 and was her first bestseller, was like visiting old friends, and she doesn't mind seeing someone else tinker with it. "For me, the Vampire Chronicles are completely over. I'm writing something new right now, so I'm comfortable with other people's adaptations."