The Players: Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series which features sparkly vampires who long for people to love; Anne Rice, author of Interview with the Vampire which features conniving vampires who long for people to kill.
The Opening Serve: Stephenie Meyer isn't shy about her feelings on other vampires. "[R]ight now I can't read any vampire novels. I tried, after I wrote Twilight, to read The Historian, because it was the big thing that summer," said Meyer to Entertainment Weekly shortly before the world hit the Twilight saturation point. "But I can't read other people's vampires. If it's too close [to my writing], I get upset; if it's too far away, I get upset. It just makes me very neurotic." And Interview with the Vampire presumably gets her on the upset--the "too far away" kind of upset. "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, so that really cuts down on a lot of the horror."
The Return Volley: Over the weekend, Anne Rice took to her Facebook to get a quick jab at Meyer's Cullen coven. "Lestat and Louie feel sorry for vampires that sparkle in the sun," she wrote. "They would never hurt immortals who choose to spend eternity going to high school over and over again in a small town ---- anymore than they would hurt the physically disabled or the mentally challenged. My vampires possess gravitas. They can afford to be merciful." Merciful isn't exactly what you'd call Rice's past interviews. "It’s based on a really silly premise: that immortals would go to high school. It’s a failure of imagination, but at the same time, that silly premise has provided Stephenie Meyer with huge success," Rice said in an interview with the New Jersey Star Ledger last Halloween. "The idea that if you are immortal you would go to high school instead of Katmandu or Paris or Venice, it’s the vampire dumbed down for kids. But it’s worked. It’s successful. It makes kids really happy."
What They Say They're Fighting About: Whether you like your vampire sparkly or sparkle-free. Of course there are similarities between Meyer's and Rice's blood-sucking characters (mind-reading, devastatingly good-looking vamps, vampires with special powers) , but where one sees "a failure of the imagination" the other sees "yuck!"
What They're Really Fighting About: Ego and paychecks. Meyer admits the problem with other vampire novels and movies are that they aren't her own. Rice admits the problems with Meyer's novels are that they are created from Meyer's lack of imagination. And there's the fact that these two authors' personal lives (religion, family, etc.) are (similarly) very publicized, so of course there's a clash of egos and Rice's definition of literature. What's also driving the beef here is the money--Anne Rice's description of Meyer's books sound like praise for entrepreneurial success, and is akin to the animosity spurred by one's "selling out."
Who's Winning Now: Draw. Nevermind that there's a wildly successful book and movie series that involve an undead vampire impregnating a teenage girl off somewhere off the coast of Brazil on an island which his family owns (yes this is a real plot point), Meyer is the vampire queen of popular culture for now. But it's not all bad news for Anne Rice (and to an extent, Charlaine Harris and Alan Ball's True Blood). Having a target out there as big as Twilight reaffirms the demand for a gorier, grittier and sexier vampire narrative which keeps Anne Rice's Louie and Lestat (and True Blood's Bill and Eric) as the cooler and still-profitable alternative.