Author Christopher Rice returns to Atlanta with a globe-trotting thrill ride for readers

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Ten years after his literary debut and four New York Times bestsellers
later, Atlanta remains a favorite stop for author Christopher Rice on
any book tour.

“Maybe because my first novel [“A Density of Souls’] was set in the
South, readers in Atlanta have always been incredibly loyal,” Rice
explained Tuesday while taking a brief break at the Ritz-Carlton in
Buckhead.

For his new book, “The Moonlit Earth,” Rice travels far from his native
New Orleans and sets the action in one of his father, late poet Stan
Rice
‘s favorite places: Hong Kong.

“When I was doing research, originally, I planned a trip to Thailand
with a side visit to Hong Kong,” he recalled. “You could say that I
tried to date Thailand but I cheated on her with Hong Kong. There was
just such an ambiance there that was perfect for this book. It suited
the collision of East and West I had in mind.”

In short order, the taut thriller introduces readers to West Hollywood
flight attendant and party boy Cameron Reynolds, a terrorist attack, a
closeted Saudi prince and Cameron’s sister, Megan, who is
determined to clear her brother’s name.

If she can find him, that is.

“The Moonlit Earth” also contains plenty of Rice’s now-trademark hairpin
turns,  suspense and plot twists for readers containing the suction power of a Dyson
housecleaning product.

“Because terrorism is all around us these days, it actually aided me in
the writing to have that as a backdrop,” Rice said. “But I didn’t want
to write a procedural about Al Qaeda. At heart, I’m a hard-boiled noir
guy.”

With “The Moonlit Earth” heroine Megan Reynolds, (and for the first time
since his second novel, “The Snow Garden”), Rice places  a
fascinating, three-dimensional female protagonist at the center of the action.

“That sibling bond is really at the core of [‘The Moonlit Earth’],” Rice
said. “I never had a sister and I always wanted one. So there is the
fantasy aspect of it as well. I wrote Megan as the sister I would want
to have. It’s easier for me to write women. I honestly don’t know why
that is. Maybe it’s because you see women differently as a gay man. The
sex is off the table. Or as my friend [novelist] Eric Shaw Quinn
likes to say, ‘The worst thing about being gay is not homophobia. It’s
having to date men.’ “

Of course, there’s another notable female influence in Rice’s life.

His mother, novelist Anne Rice.

Earlier this month, the pair treated their readers to a rare joint
appearance together at the University of California-Riverside to discuss
their work.

“We always have a good time together doing those,” he recalled. “Plus, I
got to reveal to the crowd that my mother isn’t nearly as crunk as she
thinks she is!”

Naturally, since Rice’s mother helped to revolutionize the horror genre
35 years ago, the two writers were inevitably quizzed about the current
“Twilight” book and film franchise.

Conceded Christopher: “My mother’s a lot more diplomatic than I am. I’ll
just tell you flat out that I think vampires are kind of silly.”

The elder Rice likely regained some of her crunk credibility with her
son Tuesday night when he arrived for his well-attended book-signing at
Outwrite Books in Midtown.

A beautiful bouquet of roses awaited the author (see photo at right)
with a card attached that read: “For Christopher: Congratulations! Love,
Mom.”

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