Author Interview: Stephenie Meyer on Twilight

Stephenie Meyer is the debut author of Twilight (Little Brown, 2005). From the catalog copy:

Isabella Swan’s move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn.

Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife—between desire and danger.

Deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful, Twilight captures the struggle between defying our instincts and satisfying our desires. This is a love story with bite.

Stephenie Meyer on Stephenie Meyer: “I was born on Christmas Eve (a fact which has always given me a bad attitude toward birthdays in general) in Hartford, Connecticut, and then quickly transplanted to a more reasonable climate.

“I’ve lived in Arizona most of my life, and I consider temperatures under seventy-five degrees frigid. I am the second of six children. I think that coming from such a large family has given me a lot of insight into different personality types–my siblings sometimes crop up as characters in my stories. I have a husband and three young sons who all are slightly bewildered with my sudden career shift from mommy to writer.

“A lifelong reader, I didn’t start writing until I was twenty-nine, but once I began typing I’ve never been able to stop. Twilight was my first novel. Its sequel, New Moon (Little Brown, 2006), is due out this October.

“I have several other projects currently occupying me, one being an adult science fiction novel tentatively titled The Host (Little, Brown, 2008), and another being a retelling of Twilight from Edward’s perspective (a character study that got wildly out of hand).” [Cyn Note: the latter appears to be on hold.].

Could you describe your path to publication? What were the highlights and stumbles along the way?

I was incredibly (and quite uncharacteristically) lucky with the publishing process. I wrote Twilight over the summer of 2003. I didn’t think about publishing at all until it was entirely done–I was just telling myself a story. Writing just for the sake of writing, just for my own pleasure, was certainly the greatest highlight of the whole experience.

My older sister (the only person who knew what I was up to) encouraged me to try to find a publisher. I started process of queries and literary agents that I almost gave up before I started. But I did work up enough nerve to send out about fifteen queries.

I only got one bite, but it was from the “dream on, Stephenie” agency at the top of my list. Writers House signed me in October of 2003, and then within two weeks I had nine editors interested in Twilight.

Little, Brown was the fastest–they made a preemptive offer with a three-book deal the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend. It was six months from the first word I typed to the publishing deal, so there wasn’t really time for any “stumbles.” It was pretty much all highlights.

What was your initial inspiration for writing Twilight (Megan Tingley/Little Brown, 2005)?

Twilight was inspired by a dream. It was such a great dream that I didn’t want to forget it (short-term memory loss is one of the hazards of motherhood), so I sat down at the computer and wrote it down. I wrote ten pages that first day. Those ten pages are now Chapter Thirteen, “Confessions,” and the true heart of the novel.

Once I’d written everything that I’d dreamed, I was eager to know more about what would happen to these intriguing characters. So I kept typing, letting the story go where it wanted to go. It’s a miracle that the book makes any sense! I had no organization whatsoever.

What were the challenges (literary, research, psychological, logistical) in bringing it to life?

The greatest challenge was finding time away from my already full life. I became somewhat of a hermit that summer, neglecting friends, family, and my normal hobbies. I’m still trying to find the right balance.

I didn’t do much in the way of research as I was creating my own unique world; in fact, I avoided all things vampire for fear of finding anything that contradicted my vision.

Overall, it was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life–I suppose the psychological challenge was accepting that Edward and Bella weren’t real people. (I still don’t entirely believe that).

What is at the heart of the enduring appeal of gothic fantasy, especially for teenagers?

I was never one for goth or horror, so it’s hard to answer that question. I have had to think about vampires quite a bit since writing though, and these are the conclusions I’ve come to about the appeal of vampires:

It seems to be part of human nature to enjoy being scared in a controlled environment. The popularity of horror novels and movies, not to mention roller coasters, attests to that. Mostly the monsters we have created to scare ourselves are entirely horror; zombies, swamp things, witches, werewolves, etc., are traditionally gruesome and repulsive. We run from them in terror.

Vampires, on the other hand, have a dual nature. Certainly they are frightening and deadly, but the are also alluring. They have attributes we envy, such as eternal youth. They are often attractive, rich, powerful, and educated. They sometimes wear tuxes and live in castles. The paradox there makes them hard to resist, at least as subjects for stories.

What advice do you have for beginning writers?

If you love to write, then write. Don’t let your goal be having a novel published, let your goal be enjoying your stories. However, if you finish your story and you want to share it, be brave about it. Don’t doubt your story’s appeal. If you are a good reader, and you know what is interesting, and your story is interesting to you, then trust in that.

If I would have realized that the stories in my head would be as intriguing to others as they were to me, I would probably have started writing sooner. Believe in your own taste.

As a reader, which recently published YA novels have you enjoyed most and why?

I enjoyed Gabrielle Zevin‘s Elsewhere (FSG, 2005)(excerpt) quite a bit, because she created such an interesting alternate reality. It’s a rare story that makes me cry in an airport.

I’m also a fan of Anne Brasheare’s Traveling Pants series, and, of course, Harry Potter goes without saying. Unfortunately, one of the sacrifices of writing is that I don’t have time to keep up with my reading anymore. There are a lot of YA books I keep meaning to read.

What can your fans expect next?

New Moon, the sequel to Twilight, is the next novel I have coming out. The next book in the series, Eclipse (Little, Brown, 2007), will be along shortly thereafter.

Cynsational Notes

Breaking Dawn, the fourth book in the series, was published by Little, Brown in 2008. In addition, the house published The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella in 2010.

“Dreams of High School Vampires Inspire a Toothsome Debut:” by Linda M. Castellitto from BookPage, October 2005. An interview with Stephenie Meyer.

See also Twilight: The Graphic Novel from Wikipedia.

Find more author interviews, young adult novels, and YA Gothic, horror & paranormal novels.

One thought on “Author Interview: Stephenie Meyer on Twilight

  1. I would just like to say thank you for this information about Stephenine and that she has inspired me in many ways and she has had a huge impact in my life that is why I have chosen to do my writing assignment on her because she has inspired me and this is my way to say thank you.I am truly looking forward to reading more of her work. I because of her am choosing to continue the book that I am writing.

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