Last week I attended the Undead Conference in New Orleans, hosted by the phenomenal staff of the Anne Rice Vampire Lestat Fan Club. It is an annual event which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, primarily by the commencement of the annual Vampire Lestat Reunion Ball.
For a student of Gothic Literature, the event was nothing short of one of the most amazing and exhilarating experiences of my life. Over the course of the four day conference, I sat through multiple panels featuring authors from the newly and independently published, such as the talented Greg Wilkey, to bestselling authors like Christopher Rice. These authors entertained their audience through speaking about their various novels, answering audience questions, and participating in lively debates concerning everything from the nature of good and evil to the best ways to sell your novel to a television or film company.
There were several highlights throughout the weekend. However, I would like to share my favourite, which is on a bit of a personal note. Among those who attended the vampiric festivities was long time friend, ‘SR’ and my mother-in-law, ‘TB.’ It was their first experience with the Gothic World of the vampire events which I tend to frequent and it was great to have them along. My favourite moment was at the actual ball, when a vampire walked up to ‘TB’ and asked: “Excuse me, have you seen a werewolf?” The moment – priceless! Later in the evening, we did indeed, find the werewolf!
The real highlight was, of course, meeting Anne Rice herself. I had the pleasure of speaking with her at two different events during the conference, first at a cocktail party held the first night of the conference and second, at a book signing in the Garden District. She was signing her newest novel, The Wolves of Midwinter along with her son Christopher who was signing his own recently released novel, The Heavens Rise.
I also met Becket at these events, Rice’s assistant who recently published his own novels in the vampire genre, The Blood Vivicanti. Meeting Rice was a dream, not only a long-time reader of her novels, but also as an academic who completed my MA dissertation on her Vampire Chronicles. She was kind, gracious, and meeting her was one of the greatest moments I have ever experienced.
The Ball itself was also a lot of fun. We met a lot of fellow authors and fans alike, listened to some great music, and danced the night away on a floor which had been transformed into a Gothic paradise.
As it was my first visit to the Crescent City, we also took a haunted tour of the French Quarter which was both informative and fun. A favorite place was, of course, seeing the house where Anne Rice once lived and wrote numerous novels.
As well as visiting a few of the famous cemeteries.
We explored many of the delights of Burbon and Royal Street and were even there for the annual Halloween parade. We also made some great new friends along the way. The ball and conference was a wonderful experience which I would highly recommend to anyone with a love for the Gothic, Vampiric, or simply the darker side of literature.