Stephenie Meyer and Anne Rice pretty clearly don’t like each other, as evidenced by Rice’s pompous diss in 2011 about how her vampires are sooooo much cooler than Meyer’s. (Lady, Count von Count is cooler than Meyer’s vampires. It’s not an achievement)
Meyer had previously offered her own girly-girl wussy hyper-pious commentary on vampire books and movies, which pretty much backhanded Rice’s vampires as well.
- I’ve seen little pieces of Interview with a Vampire when it was on TV, but I kind of always go YUCK! I don’t watch R-rated movies
Oh, whatever, you wimp. I’ve seen Interview, and it was less scary than Christmas at my house. You want horrifying? Look at the birth scene from Breaking Dawn, which seemed to be an encapsulation of all Smeyer’s creepy weird issues with motherhood. There’s nothing in the Rice movies that is even CLOSE to that level of grossness.
Anyway, I think she’s lying. Lying like a rug. But I’ll get into that in a moment.
I’d like to preface this by saying that I’m really not a personal fan of either author. Anne Rice is bugnuts insane at the best of times, especially when she talks about what current shows Lestat watches (WTF?), and anyone who has read my snarks knows exactly what I think of Stephenie Meyer.
However, Rice does come ahead of Smeyer because she managed to write three brilliant books before hopping on the batshit train, and churning out a lot of books that ranged from fairly good (Pandora) to what-the-hell-did-I-just-read bad (Blood Canticle, Merrick). I’m not a fan of HER, but of a few of her books.
And… I’m pretty sure that Smeyer lifted some stuff from Rice’s books.
Now, I don’t think she lifted her vampires from Rice’s in general. Rice’s are the sort of vampires that Smeyer would never admit to liking. Her vampires are very old-world European in style, if not in actual nationality. They’re decadent. They’re impulsive. They’re formed by a Catholic background, even though Rice was an atheist for most of the series’ lifetime. They can fall in love many times. They’re homoerotic (though not literally sexual). They love sensual pleasures. They have long hair (both men and women), velvet clothes, rich furnishings and lots of theological musings about the soul and so on. They take special pleasure from anything that has aesthetic beauty.
Meyer’s, on the other hand, are formed by a different cultural and religious (Mormon) approach. They’re staunchly, boringly American, even though some of them come from other cultures. They live in a stark white modern space. The men have short hair and the women long hair. They’re staunchly heterosexual. They wear ordinary clothing with no unusual fabrics (I imagine them wearing all cotton). They only fall in love once, with their Destined Soulmate. Their furnishings could come from a catalog. They seem to be consciously barring themselves from sensual pleasures, even when it makes no logical sense (like Edward refusing to have sex even though he doesn’t have any major religious beliefs). And they don’t seem to take any real pleasure from beautiful things… or they probably wouldn’t be hanging out in a small Northwestern logging town.
Also, they sparkle.
So yeah, they’re both obvious lust objects, but the approach is so different that I don’t really think it counts as copying.
However… it’s pretty obvious when you read both series that Meyer DID read at least a few of Rice’s books. Oh, of course she denies it, especially since her “goody-two-shoes squeaky-clean Mormon housewife who only likes bright sunny PG-rated girly-stuff” image would never allow for decadent tales of blood, demons and darkness. I assume she has them stashed under her bed in a wrinkled paper bag.
But I’ve read Queen of the Damned. A lot. It’s honestly one of my favorite vampire books of all time, and even Rice’s more famous novels don’t even come close to that book’s brilliance. And… I can tell that Smeyer lifted some shit from it and other Rice books.
1. Immortal Children
I think by now just about EVERY vampire author has addressed the issue of vampire children. Generally, everybody agrees that it’s a bad idea, although some more stupidly than others.
Stephenie Meyer is no exception, since she introduced the concept (though no actual vampire kids) in Breaking Yawn… sorry, Dawn. Basically we’re told that turning kids into vampires is so totally not okay, because even though they’re cute, they will randomly go on killing sprees. Apparently the threat of “time out” is not enough to restrain them.
This brings us to Claudia.
Claudia is a main character in the legendary movie and novel, Interview with the Vampire; she was made a vampire by Lestat and Louis when she was only about five years old, which meant she was a little girl forevermore. She was staggeringly beautiful, lures people in with her sweet face, and is a cold-blooded sociopathic killer of vampires and humans alike. And eventually her murderous ways lead to her destruction, just like Smeyer’s immortal children.
Yes, it’s a pretty indirect connection… but let’s face it: every “killer child vampire” character in existence came from Claudia. Why would I believe that Smeyer came up with that idea on her own?
2. The code of secrecy
This is another thing that sounds like it doesn’t have a direct connection to Rice… but think carefully. Did vampires have a code of secrecy AS A SPECIES before she wrote it into Queen of the Damned? I have no idea, but I don’t know of any previous books that did.
For the record, Queen of the Damned (after a typically egotistical intro by Lestat) opens with a declaration by a group of vampires that they are going to kill Lestat. Why? Because he’s blurted out vampire lore, secrets and EXISTENCE in front of the “mortal herd,” even though everybody thinks it’s just a gimmick. So these vampires plan to kill not only the blonde groundbreaking hero, but his family (Gabrielle, his mother/fledgling), his fledgling (Louis) and anyone else who sides with him.
Sound a bit familiar?
Actually, I just realized something. Don’t the Volturi come across as being very like Rice’s vampires? Pseudo-Catholic background, fine clothes, European aesthetic, appreciation for art… even the long hair. Very classy, Smeyer. Oh, those dastardly Catholics!
The thing is, this makes a lot more sense in Rice’s universe. It’s pretty obvious that vampires are vulnerable, especially since the same warning that threatens Lestat and his friends makes it clear that “the villagers are not yet at the door, torches in hand, threatening to burn the castle. But the monster is courting a change in mortal perspective.” It’s made pretty clear that yes, vampires ARE potentially vulnerable despite their powers and strength. They can be – and are – killable, especially since they are vulnerable to sunlight. Hell, I vaguely remember reading about Rice having nebulous plans to have Lestat captured in a lab and experimented on!
Whereas Smeyer’s vampires are secret… uh… because if they weren’t, people would know about them. And Bella wouldn’t be speshul.
Yeah, I have no idea why her vampires are supposed to be secret, especially since we’re repeatedly assured that we puny humans – with our flamethrowers, bombers and nukes – could never manage to kill any of them. If they’re so invincible to everyone except werewolves… why are they a secret? What are they AFRAID of?
3. Flammable blood
In fact, we have learned that the only way to permanently kill a sparklepire is to set it on fire, because their “venom” is highly flammable.
Here are some a fun little quotes:
- At once the flames rising from the highly combustible blood of the preternatural body ignited the heavy ornate garments and the whole form was ablaze. – Blood and Gold
- It had kindled the powerful combustible blood that he and she had in common – Queen of the Damned
Hmm, vampires with super-flammable blood… I wonder who came up with that first. Oh wait…
4. The Gifts
One thing you notice almost IMMEDIATELY if you read the Twishite series is that Smeyer likes to assign random Sue powers to her vampires. These range from the most basic (mind-reading) to the ridiculous (affecting RELATIONSHIPS?). In fact, it seems like more vampires have Speshul Sue Powers than NOT.
Well, shocking news: Smeyer didn’t come up with the idea of a mind-reading vampire…. she just drove the concept into the ground. Yes, Rice came up with several “Gifts” that her vampires might have… some of which are oddly familiar.
- Your garden-variety super-strength and speed, with perfect memory. Oh, and immortality unless killed.
- The Mind Gift, aka reading thoughts. This basically allows certain vampires to read the minds of others, and eventually they involuntarily hear the minds of humans all the time. Oh, and they often use this to single out “evil” people so they can use them for food. Sounds a wee bit like Edturd, doesn’t it? The only difference is that Rice’s vampires don’t use their ability to justify a seething hatred for humans.
- The Spell Gift, which allows a vampire to cloud a mortal’s mind and influence their thoughts. Also sounds familiar, no?
- The Fire Gift, which allows a vampire to generate fire and implicitly kill another vampire. This has a partial similarity to one of the most ridiculous vampire powers in the whole Twishite series.
There are a couple more Gifts, but those are the ones that Smeyer seems to have copied. And honestly, they’re the ones that make the most sense (as opposed to “The Cloud Gift” which just feels goofy). However, to be fair, most of Smeyer’s stupid vampire “powers” are very much her own creation, such as Alice’s useless precognition, “relationship identification,” electric shocks and WISHING HARD.
Here’s a fun characteristic that Smeyer seems to have copied wholesale from Rice’s books… and it isn’t even relevant to the main characters. I shit thee not.
That would be petrification, wherein one of Smeyer’s vampires goes still for no real reason given, and dust + venom forms a stoneline coating on their skin. They are fully aware of their surroundings and can apparently just jump up and start being active again whenever they feel like it.
Yep, she ripped off Those Who Must Be Kept, the oldest vampires in Rice’s universe. Basically what happened is that Akasha was a queen who ended up merged with a bloodthirsty spirit, and subsequently turned her husband Enkil into the second vampire. Eventually her bloodthirst waned and she and her husband just sat in place as living statues (again, sound familiar?) for centuries. But they are aware of their surroundings to at least some degree (Marius keeps a TV playing in front of them), and can wake up and move whenever they want to.
Seriously, Smeyer has no shame. This wasn’t even necessary for the story. And she managed to leech all the coolness out of it, since Akasha and Enkil’s state was unusual, so it was all the spookier and more dramatic when they started moving.
6. “Living” stone skin/flesh
Another thing that Smeyer never shuts up about is the stoneline skin/flesh of her vampires. She just mentions skin, but I’m assuming the tissues under it are ALSO supposed to be stonelike because otherwise you could shatter their skin with a rubber mallet. Actually, none of makes sense, but that’s a rant for another day.
Well, pretty much every time Edward comes onto the scene, Smeyer goes ON AND ON AND ON about how his skin is cold, hard, and like marble or granite. Usually the default is marble, since granite doesn’t really come in pure white. In fact, Smeyer talks SO much about it that I wonder if she’s agalmatophilic, although of course she’d never admit it.
- “Baby Jenks, they know everything, the old European ones,” Davis had said. “They know how it started, they know we can go on and on if we hang in there, live to be a thousand years old and turn into white marble.”
- “Gee, that’s just great, Davis,” Baby Jenks said. “It’s bad enough now not being able to walk into a Seven Eleven under those lights without people looking at you. Who wants to look like white marble?”
- And finally to Those Who Must Be Kept, alive yet hard and white as marble.
- And in private, he had noticed that his flesh was slowly filling out. It was hard as a rock to the touch.
- He was just too smooth and too white.
- – Queen of the Damned
Yup, yet another “original” thing that Smeyer lifted wholesale from Rice… except that she tried to apply it to the entire vampire population, and ended up making it lamer and less logical.
Rice’s vampires become “marblesque” when they’ve spent more than a thousand years as vampires – it’s implied that the vampiric spirit that possesses their bodies slowly refines their human tissues into something much tougher. They’re not only undead, but they’re slowly being refined into something very different and alien. It’s a slow transition, which makes it much more believable than three days and you pop up a “marble” vampire.
Also, Rice didn’t usually sexualize the “marble” quality of those vampires. The only exception is when Lestat is admiring himself in the mirror… and I don’t think a narcissist’s self-admiration counts as sexualizing a trait. The other vampires who have “marble” skin – Enkil, Khayman, Akasha, the twins, Marius – don’t really have their marble skin depicted as a sexually alluring trait.
7. Bree Tanner/Baby Jenks
This is probably the biggest example of stuff lifted from Anne Rice’s works – in this case, the copying of an entire CHARACTER. Except, you know, Smeyer fudged out anything that was dirty, morally bereft or ugly.
|Bree Tanner||Baby Jenks|
|Title of the book/chapter they star in|| The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner
||“The Short Happy Life of Baby Jenks and the Fang Gang”|
|Group||Part of a rogue vampire gang||Part of a rogue vampire gang|
|Knowledge of the vampire world||Minimal. She doesn’t really know about the history, rules or culture. All she knows about is the higher-class Cullens and her little group.||Minimal. She doesn’t know about the history, rules or culture. All she knows about is the higher-class vampires and her little group.|
|Background|| Runaway from an abusive father who
murdered her mother.
|Ran away from home and became a street hooker, then murdered her parents.|
|Death||Murdered by the series villains, purely to show how evil and scary they are.||Murdered by the book’s villain, purely to show how evil and scary she is.|
Yeah, the big difference is that I don’t think Smeyer could bring herself to write a truly monstrous character… well, deliberately, anyway.
Oh sure, the introduction describes Bree as a hunter, a monster, but the extent of her monstrousness is to act like a REAL VAMPIRE. She never does anything wrong during her human life, and life as a street kid didn’t involve any of the seedier aspects of reality like prostitution or drugs. Even when she becomes a vampire, she’s a passive quiet one who doesn’t do much. And it’s pretty obvious that if the Volturi hadn’t killed her, she would have joined the Cullens with nary a protest, and she probably would have fit in too.
Hell, that criticism is coming from someone who thought the Baby Jenks chapter was the worst part of Queen of the Damned, especially since Rice’s attempts at sounding like “the cool street kids” are embarrassingly bad. Yes, even worse than Smeyer and her “gangsters.”
Rice at least tried to write a character who WAS monstrous. It’s made pretty clear that Baby Jenks was a trashy, selfish, skanky little shit even when she was human, and being a vampire just let her be even worse. And Rice doesn’t pretend that the worst thing that happens to runaways is lack of food.
So yeah, Smeyer pretty obviously got her inspiration for Bree Tanner from Baby Jenks, but only once she had been reshaped into a character “good” enough for Smeyer to stomach writing about.
Again, I don’t think that Smeyer ripped off most of her books’ content from Rice. Rice’s stories tend to be much broader in scale, with a lot of personal histories in different countries… instead of the chronicles of a boring teen girl who barely ever leaves her town. And Rice’s characters are too grand and decadent for Smeyer’s resolutely dull, suburban sensibilities, even in her personal fantasies.
However, she HAS copied a lot of vampiric qualities from Rice’s vampires. One of the few things I’ve seen Smeyer’s vampires praised for is their originality, because they don’t fit into the “normal” depiction of vampires that most authors use. But as we see above, several of their characteristics are either copied from Rice or at least close enough to not be original or unique.
Anyway, who wins in the end, Smeyer’s sparklepires or Rice’s angstpires?
The answer is THOMAS MUTHAFUCKIN’ RAITH!