^Stan and Michele Rice on the left, Lestat and Claudia de Lioncourt on the right. As a side note, before this gets into the more serious topic, AR has said she based Lestat on Stan, and there is a story out there that his name was meant to be “Lestan,” but ended up as “Lestat” bc of a typographical error. I don’t have a source on that.
From the Vampire Companion:
(In the first draft of [IWTV], Rice described Claudia as three or four years old.)… Rice based Claudia’s appearance on her own daughter, Michele, who died at the age of five from leukemia. Claudia even shares Michele’s birthday, September 21.* However, despite the intense tone of suffering and guilt evident in Louis’s telling of the story, Rice insists that she had not been aware that she had included her feelings about Michele’s tragic death. “I never consciously thought about it when I was writing the book,” she says. “I wasn’t conscious of the connection. I knew that I was using the physical beauty of Michele as the model, but Claudia was a fictional character in her own right. The character, the voice, and the things Claudia say have nothing to do with my daughter – but there’s no question that this is the symbolic working out of a terrible grief. What else can it possibly be?”
In the first version of [IWTV], Claudia eventually goes off with three vampire brothers whom she meets in Paris. She does not die. As such, it was as if Rice had attempted to give her daughter a form of immortality. Rice, however, experienced psychological problems that cleared up only after she had rewritten the ending – by killing off Claudia and taking Louis through an experience of intense grieving. This version was much more cathartic for Rice.
*This is mentioned in canon in Claudia’s diary entry in QOTD, which recounts one of her birthdays.
Hit the jump for more, cut for length, not content.
From Premiere Magazine, November 1994:
(sorry, I don’t have a link, I transcribed this from the page)
In real life, Claudia was a nickname for Michele Rice, Anne Rice’s vibrant blond daughter, who had once piled her hair on top of her head, and spoken in a smoky voice like Claudia Cardinale. She was three years old when she developed leukemia, and five when she died, in 1972.
At first, Rice soaked her maternal despair in a steady stream of sixpacks. Then she unleashed her rage unto paper, into what eventually became Interview with the Vampire. Michele was reincarnated as Claudia, the raging woman locked in a child’s body. “Louis was me,” says Rice. “That dark, brooding, melancholy person ripped from Catholic faith and tormented with guilt – that was me. I’d love to be Lestat: the wishful me, the active, the dream, the other one. Louis was the more true, autobiographical portrait of the conflicted and lost and orphaned person. That’s what the book is about. It’s about being orphaned.”
From People Magazine, 12/5/1988:
“Writers write about what obsesses them,” says Rice. “You draw those cards. I lost my mother when I was 14. My daughter died at the age of 6. I lost my faith as a Catholic. When I’m writing, the darkness is always there. I go where the pain is.“