|Photo by Rink.
Christopher Rice appeared at A Different Light Bookstore on Feb. 25, for a store full of fans. Rice grew up three blocks from the store and moved with his family to New Orleans in 1988, when he was 10 years old. He is remembered as the blonde-haired boy who shopped in The Castro with his mother, novelist Ann Rice. He said that he was an impressionable youth who saw his mother jump out of coffins dressed as an Egyptian goddess at her appearances. This was after Interview With a Vampire was published, when her fame hit the big time.
When Rice returned to the Castro as a teenager he was surprised to see how much the neighborhood had gentrified. And when he returned again to promote his popular first book Density of Souls, he said that he â€śwas in an unfortunate fashion period.â€ť He described â€śthe form fitting black sweater with a large cut-out area that showed his belly button.â€ť His treasure trail was on display, and people stared at it while listening to him speak and while he signed their books. He attributed the moment to â€śThe things we have to do to promote a book.â€ť He is now living in Los Angeles to bring his books to the big screen and to be near his mother, who lives in the high desert.
The inspiration for his new book Blind Fall is from meeting a gay marine, and watching the change that â€śDonâ€™t Ask Donâ€™t Tellâ€ť brought in Southern California, where there a number of military bases. Rice spent time in the Central Valley doing research for his new book, and he spoke with military families and law enforcement.
For the first time gay marines were out together in gay bars and feeling free to speak about it to civilians. They spoke about their main motivation: patriotism. And this was before 9/11. And they wanted also to live gay lives off base and were notably apolitical. They said that their job was to defend themselves and the guy next to them. Rice thought for some time about what would happen if a gay marine was bashed. What would his straight comrades feel and do? Would they seek revenge? Rice hinted that they would in his book.
Usually questions about his mother are not asked or are discouraged, but at this event Rice described how his novelist mother and poet father encouraged his artistic creativity. This was the opposite of his writer friends, he said. He shows his mother his books just before they are to be to be published, which is too late for editing.
Asked about his meth murder mystery book Light Before Day, Rice said that the â€ścrystal meth zombiesâ€ť acting out in West Hollywood provided him with book ideas. As much as they tried to hide it, the destroyed lives were obvious to everyone. He said it was like seeing a zombie film out in public, with screaming, yelling and removal of clothing.
When asked about the state of publishing, Rice said that he is an alarmist. Most of the LGBT writers sell about 10,000 copies. This middle area is being eliminated. And book sales are down overall, though there are some bright spots like the Harry Potter and Twilight books that have encouraged hordes of young people to read.
A Different Lightâ€™s event coordinator Stephen Quinones warmly greeted Riceâ€™s guests and he encouraged one-on-oneâ€™s when the books were signed. Afterwards there were hugs for Rice from his former San Francisco and New Orleans schoolmates.