Lestat is back, and so is author Anne Rice, his creator.
After an absence of a decade, the Vampire Lestat makes an appearance in Rice’s newest novel, “Prince Lestat,” fueling passions of his devotees worldwide.
New Orleans will host many of them Friday night, when they make their annual pilgrimage to the city for the Anne Rice Vampire Lestat Fan Club Ball. The ball will be held at the Republic, 828 S. Peters St., beginning at 8 p.m. Tickets are $75.
Sue Quiroz knows better than anyone why the ball has attracted capacity crowds from far-flung corners of the globe, including Australia, Scandinavia, England and Japan.
A co-founder of the ARVL Fan Club in 1989 and a former personal assistant to Rice, Quiroz plans the ball and invented Undead Con, a three-day weekend of writers panels and related events that begins on Friday.
“Anne didn’t attend the balls post-Katrina — she didn’t want to see the city in ruins. But last year she came back, and she’ll be here this year, too, just after releasing the new Lestat book,” Quiroz said.
The new book and a royal title for the vaunted veteran of the “Vampire Chronicles” mean that the 2014 ball has singular significance — it’s no mere party, but a coronation ball for the prince himself.
“We held a contest online on our Facebook page and now we have three finalists,” Quiroz said. “The crowd at the ball will choose the prince and then we’ll crown him.”
That’s enough to make anyone’s heart pump with excitement, especially since the prince takes home a specially made crown and scepter, plus a leather-bound collection of Rice’s first three novels.
When it comes to costumes at the ball, Quiroz says that fans “go all out.”
Most tend toward the elegant: 19th-century formal garb including bustles for women, tall hats with canes for men.
Some prefer an updated version of Victorian wear, a little in the steampunk vein. A few guests come in ensembles of characters from Rice’s books: Picture Lestat accompanied by Louis, Claudia and Armand.
One fan — a finalist for the title of prince — has legally changed his name to Lestat Brant de Lioncourt (no word on whether his driver’s license photo shows him with fangs).
Oh, and no one should fret if he or she arrives at the ball, having forgotten the fangs at home: A talented fangsmith will be on hand to make custom elongated incisors for the fangless.
Undead Con starts Friday (Halloween) with two panels, the first featuring Christopher Rice, followed by the coronation ball.
Saturday — All Saints Day — features a cemetery picnic followed by a seminar and panel.
On Sunday, All Souls Day, Anne and Christopher Rice sign copies of their newest books at the Garden District Book Shop. Although this signing is scheduled to last just two hours, Quiroz says she recalls one that went on for eight.
“Anne just wants to give each fan individual attention,” Quiroz said. “It’s as simple as that.”
It may also be part of the reason for the undying devotion Rice fans feel for her and the cast of characters she has given life to.
“It’s a question that has been asked so many times: Where does all the loyalty come from?” Quiroz said. “But there is no explanation that really gets it. Some of it is Anne herself and her loyalty to fans, and part of it is her characters — they are outsiders, but strong and beautiful. There’s more, but I can’t define it.”