Perhaps it is still true now, but it was certainly true then: your IM / chat alias was both code and key, hint and obfuscation, tease and truth.
And mine, for years and years and years, long past the point at which those IRC channels and forums had disappeared from the internet forever, was inspired by Anne Rice.
If you think loving Anne Rice's novels as a teenager in the 90s and early aughts is not a personality I am here to tell you, definitively, that you are quite incorrect. It was possible to organize entire friend groups by their shared book obsessions, and to float between dragons (McCaffrey), cranky sorcerers (Eddings), sprawling epics (Jordan, the original Martin) and horror (Applegate). Rice was often a common denominator; until I bought my own I'd never encountered a copy of her books that wasn't dog-eared from sheer readership.
I started reading the books before I ever watched Brad Pitt immortalize Louis and Antonio Banderas smoulder his way through his scenes as Armand and Kirsten Dunst be frankly terrifying as Claudia. I read the books, and then I re-read them; I tried and failed to get into the Mayfair Witches (save Merrick) because my loyalties were to the Chronicles, old and new.
Many better than me have written about how formative books are to young people, and reflected on how chilling the casualness with which we are approaching the many and well-funded attempts across the US to sanitize what writing is readibly available.
The right book at the right time can save a life or change a life and that is what makes literature powerful, and its censure to attractive to the unimaginative and the cruel.
I am grateful to all the authors whose characters saved and changed me, even the ones who revealed themselves to be the monsters they'd encouraged us to fight.
RIP Anne Rice, mahie will never forget you.
Two girls discover
the secret of life
in a sudden line of
I who don’t know the
— from The Secret by Denise Levertov