Interview with Christopher Rice, author of ‘The Heaven’s Rise’
By the age of 30, Christopher Rice had published four New York Times bestselling thrillers, received a Lambda Literary Award and been declared one of People Magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive. His first work of supernatural suspense, THE HEAVENS RISE, will be published on October 15, 2013, by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. His debut novel, A DENSITY OF SOULS, was published when the author was just 22 years old. A controversial and overnight bestseller, it was greeted with a landslide of media attention, much of it devoted to the fact that Christopher is the son of legendary vampire chronicler, Anne Rice. A DENSITY OF SOULS was recently published as an e-book. This new definitive edition features a highly personal Afterword by the author about a dramatic publication process that forever changed the life of this much talked about young novelist. The members of the Insight Out Book Club selected his novel BLIND FALL as one of the Best Books of 2008 and mega-bestselling thriller writer (and Jack Reacher creator) Lee Child hailed Christopher’s novel LIGHT BEFORE DAY as a “book of the year”. Together with his best friend, New York Times bestselling novelist Eric Shaw Quinn, Christopher launched on his own Internet radio show. THE DINNER PARTY SHOW WITH CHRISTOPHER RICE & ERIC SHAW QUINN is always playing at TheDinnerPartyShow.com and every episode is available for free download from the site’s show archive or on iTunes.
New York Times bestselling author Christopher Rice brilliantly conjures the shadowed terrors of the Louisiana bayou—where three friends confront a deadly, ancient evil rising to the surface—in this intense and atmospheric new supernatural thriller.
It’s been a decade since the Delongpre family vanished near Bayou Rabineaux, and still no one can explain the events of that dark and sweltering night. No one except Niquette Delongpre, the survivor who ran away from the mangled stretch of guardrail on Highway 22 where the impossible occurred…and kept on running. Who left behind her best friends, Ben and Anthem, to save them from her newfound capacity for destruction…and who alone knows the source of her very bizarre—and very deadly—abilities: an isolated strip of swampland called Elysium.
An accomplished surgeon, Niquette’s father dreamed of transforming the dense acreage surrounded by murky waters into a palatial compound befitting the name his beloved wife gave to it, Elysium: “the final resting place for the heroic and virtuous.” Then, ten years ago, construction workers dug into a long-hidden well, one that snaked down into the deep, black waters of the Louisiana swamp and stirred something that had been there for centuries—a microscopic parasite that perverts the mind and corrupts the body.
Niquette is living proof that things done can’t be undone. Nothing will put her family back together again. And nothing can save her. But as Niquette, Ben, and Anthem uncover the truth of a devastating parasite that has the potential to alter the future of humankind, Niquette grasps the most chilling truths of all: someone else has been infected too. And unlike her, this man is not content to live in the shadows. He is intent to use his newfound powers for one reason only: revenge
Q. “The Heavens Rise” is a supernatural horror novel with suspense novel pacing: I would categorize it as a supernatural thriller. Do you think your familiarity with the action-oriented thriller genre affected the tone and the pacing of “The Heavens Rise?”
A. Absolutely. Along with films and television. Writers can be sheepish about admitting how they’re affected by other mediums, but I don’t have any qualms about it. I think the horror/action thriller is more of a recent phenomenon as a novel, made increasingly popular by shorter e-book works by super talented writers like Blake Crouch. The horror novels I grew up on in the 80’s and 90’s were bigger, juicier works than the market seems to have a place for today.
Q. It doesn’t take too many pages in for the reader to get this really clearly drawn picture of Marshall Ferriot as this particularly creepy kind of guy who has a really dehumanizing sense of completely entitlement when it comes to his obsessive need to own the object of his infatuation. The fact that he’s also bigoted is just icing on the cake. Were there any particular life experiences you had where you ran into these kinds people that inspired you to write a character like that?
A. Marshall Ferriot is supposed to be a walking nightmare of white entitlement in the American South. My shorthand for him is “evil on two legs”; because it drives home the humanness of his monstrousness. But in a novel full of characters making sacrifices, Marshall holds a mono-focus on a single act of sexual rejection in high school and that, combined with his blind privilege and his bigotry, make into the type of villain I both despise and fear. Some people don’t see other people in three dimensions. They really do believe that the rest of us on the planet are just supporting players in their ongoing drama or quest for self-gratification. Marshall is one of those people. And how horrifying that he comes into a power that allows him to manipulate people like human puppets.
Q. As a fan of your program with Eric Shaw Quinn, “The Dinner Party Show,” I saw you pose the very same question to your listeners, and I thought I would pose it to you here now: what do you think makes a novel a part of the horror genre?
A. I think it requires a stark and bloody collision between a very human world and a non-human world. And I consider world in which humans have taken sadism or violence to an insane degree to be non-human, more like a reversion to something so primal it can’t easily be categorized as human. And thank you for listening to the show and being one of our most loyal “Party People”. We love hearing from you during our live shows on Sunday evening!
Q. There are many types of monsters in horror, and in some ways, the most frightening of them are those which are in some way human. They introduce in us well-placed fear of the darkness that lurks in our fellow man. Without giving away too much, can you tell our readers to what degree the terror in your story comes from supernatural foes, and to what degree human motivations?
A. I think it comes entirely from human motivations in this book. Look, the power that’s introduced, the ability to control someone’s mind, can be used for good or for evil, and in THE HEAVENS RISE; we see it used primarily for evil as the events of the novel pave the way for a better and noble use of it in the larger world. I don’t think that gives away too much. But it raises the same compelling questions as the gun control debate. Are guns inherently evil? Should they be regulated as if they are, or as if their capacity for evil outweighs their capacity for personal security? This novel isn’t about the gun debate, but the same fears and concerns can be applied to this power.
Q, You’ve been an established author for over a decade now, but this is your first horror novel. Did you feel intimidated at all by writing in the same genre as your famous mother Anne Rice?
A. I was, and even with horror, I knew I was going to do something different. My style is more gritty, more contemporary, than hers. I’m not sure the horror label applies that well to Mom’s work. There are too many other dominant elements like romance and historical drama.
Q. As a California girl, I was quite intrigued by the richly layered descriptions of Louisiana and the Bayou not only as geographic locations, but as cultural experiences depicted in the lives of your characters. Even their names Niquette Delongpre and Anthem Landry, seem to be from a different world. Did you have to do a lot of research to develop these character, and to what degree where they influenced by personal experience?
A. Louisiana is another language and I started learning it when I was ten. I discovered when I went away to college that just by living there I had become a storehouse of trivia and information other people found exotic and enticing, and that was a great gift. I had to familiarize myself with post-Katrina New Orleans because I moved away several years before the storm hit and the levees failed. That took some trips back and some long conversations with friends, but the fundamentals of the state and it’s exotic Caribbean/Cajun culture were ingrained in me at a young age.
Q. Your book has been very well received and I would personally categorize it as a delightful entry into my personally favorite genre. In light of this, do you think our readers can look forward to seeing more Christopher Rice horror novels in the future?
A. Thank you! I couldn’t be more pleased with the reception this book is getting and I feel very at home in this genre. I’m one third of the way through another supernatural thriller set in the deep South, which rare for me. Previously, I was a very slow writer. I would wait for a book to come out and see how it did and factor it into my next project. It wasn’t always the healthiest way to work. This is the first time I’ve made big strides on the forthcoming book while still in the midst of publication for the current one. So don’t expect me to leave behind monsters and the swamp anytime soon!
The Book Trailer:
Where to Find Christopher Online:
Dinner Party Show: http://thedinnerpartyshow.com/
~ by Sumiko Saulson on October 30, 2013.