Anne Rice scraps bloodsuckers to write about Jesus -- The ''Interview with the Vampire'' author pens a letter about her difficulties writing her latest book, ''Christ the Lord''

By Gilbert Cruz
Updated May 09, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

Suck on this, Lestat: Anne Rice has a new leading man. After decades of writing dense novels about witches, vampires, and other paranormal beings, the gothic author is tackling an even more supernatural subject: Jesus Christ. Rice’s Christ the Lord, due out in November from Random House and partly based on ”the most respected New Testament scholarship,” will tell the story of the Christian savior’s early years in his own words, a conceit similar to that of Norman Mailer’s 1997 novel, The Gospel According to the Son. Rice, who has even abandoned her beloved New Orleans, explains her motives in a lengthy letter that will accompany advance review copies of the book this summer (exclusively excerpted below). Whether Christians appreciate the queen of the damned writing about their Lord is unclear, but Mel Gibson might want to look into the movie rights.

Dear Reader,

For over ten years I’ve wanted to do this book — Jesus in his own words. For five years I’ve been obsessed with how to do it, and for the last three years I’ve been consumed with nothing else.

The ultimate questions, the ones distilled from a thousand others, were so obvious as to be frightening. What did it feel like to be Jesus? What did it feel like to be God and Man as a child?. . .In all my career, I don’t think I’ve ever faced such a daunting task. And there were moments when I came near to giving up. I prayed. I asked for guidance. I scrapped hundreds of pages. At moments, I was on the verge of accepting that perhaps I couldn’t do what had to be done here. . .

I’m not a priest. I can’t be one. I’ll never be able to go to the altar of the Lord and say the words of consecration at Mass, ”This is my body. This is my blood.” No, I can’t work that magnificent Eucharistic miracle. But in humility, I have attempted something transformative which we writers dare to call a miracle in the imperfect human idiom we possess. It’s to bring Him here in the form of a story, and that story is Christ The Lord.