Leader Post – Stephenie Meyer
I’ve read and heard Stephenie tell the story about how her Twilight Universe came about and this story is no exception. I like hearing about it because, the fact that it came from a dream amuses me because, I’ve had crazy ass dreams like that where things don’t make sense to anyone but you. So hearing/reading about it just fuels my fire to eventually finish one of my fan fictions I always seem to start but never finish. I write down my dreams all the time and someday, somehow I will finish something I started writing lol. Kudos to Stephenie
Twilight author dreams up a vampire empire
By Jamie Portman
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — The date was June 2, 2003. There was nothing special about it at the time. It should have been no more than another ordinary day in the life of a 29-year-old mother of three named Stephenie Meyer — except for one thing.
She had awakened from this dream — this “great” dream, this “awesome” dream — and the details remained riveted in her mind in the hours that followed.
“I tell this story a lot, and I think that it starts to sound like I’m making it up,” she tells reporters with an apologetic smile. But that day, which she remembers with the utmost clarity, marked the launching of a phenomenal (and totally unexpected) writing career.
The dream had to do with vampires, a subject in which she had no interest, and a conversation between two vividly remembered characters — a young woman and a male vampire.
“It was odd because it was coherent, because it was a really complicated conversation, and because I don’t ever dream about vampires. And I woke up, and I was just wrapped up in this idea of what was going to happen next. Was he going to kill her or were they going to be together? It was 50-50 at that point.
“And I wrote it down because there were a lot of nuances to the conversation I didn’t want to forget,” she says now.
Why she felt this compulsion remains a mystery. She had no idea at the time that the seed had been planted for her debut novel, Twilight, first of a quartet of related stories reflecting her own unorthodox spin on vampire culture. She didn’t even envisage publication. She was writing for herself, which is all she dared to do. At the same time, it was something she had to do.
“Once I got started within that day, I was completely hooked on writing it,” she remembers. She was venturing into a world she had never contemplated when majoring in English at Utah’s Brigham Young University. “I had no ambitions for a writing career. I had a career, I was really busy with it — being a mother which is about the most full-time job you can have. I had three little boys and there was no time to do something else.”
In the past, she’d attempted other creative endeavours, including painting, but this was special, “like you just found your favourite flavour of ice cream. All of a sudden, there it is.”
It took three months to complete Twilight and to overcome her shyness at the thought of publication. She dispatched query letters to 15 literary agents: five didn’t reply, nine rejected the idea outright, but one asked to see the manuscript. Two months later, following a brief but intense bidding war, the august publishing house of Little, Brown had won the rights.
Within weeks of Twilight’s 2005 publication, it had reached the Number 5 spot on the New York Times best-seller list. Today, there are more than eight million copies in print. Three other novels in the series have followed — New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn. The last, published in August, sold 1.3 million copies on its very first day of sale. Fans the world over have been hooked on the romance between high school loner Bella and soulful fellow student Edward Cullen, who just happens to be a 109-year-old vampire.
Meyer calls it “sheer luck or fate or what have you.” After all, perhaps the most intriguing component of her success is that she doesn’t dig vampires.
Ask her about the centuries-old fascination with vampire culture, she pleads ignorance.
“I’m not a vampire fan. I never have been. I don’t do horror. I’m an enormous scaredy cat. Hitchcock is about as much as I can handle…if it’s anything more than that, you’re not going to see me in the theatre.” So when it comes to Dracula and his friends, Meyer doesn’t get it.
“I’ve never gotten it. Why are people so obsessed with vampires? I know a lot of people are. I’m actually surprised at how many people are. So the fact that I would write about them is wildly out of character for me, and bizarre.”
However, she has concluded that “everybody likes to be scared in a controlled environment. “Horror movies do really well. It’s a big industry. People read a lot of very scary books, so I’m missing that gene, but clearly we like to be scared. . . I don’t want to be a vampire. A lot of other people do, and I think it’s that dual nature that (they) have — terrifying and intriguing.”
Furthermore, Meyer’s take on vampires is definitely unorthodox. There are some rogue ones in her stories, and they do make a nasty appearance in Twilight, but her real interest lies in the more benign ones she has created, particularly when it comes to Edward’s own family circle. It’s important to her that there are no fangs in the movie version of Twilight.
“There are a lot of varying legends. There are the ones that turn into bats and mists, and there are the ones that are more concrete. In general, vampires don’t have fangs — and they don’t need them, strong as they are. They’re fairly indestructible — wooden stakes and garlic are not going to get you anywhere.”
The vampires in Stephenie Meyer’s universe are uniquely defined entities.
“They don’t sleep at all. They’re never unconscious. And the sunlight doesn’t harm them. It just shows them for what they are because they sparkle in the sun.”
As for being unable to see their reflections in a mirror — nonsense!
“They totally have reflections and you can take pictures of them. In my world these are myths that vampires anciently spread around so that people would say — oh, this person can’t be a vampire because I can see them in a mirror, so I’m safe.”
Given the uniqueness of Meyer’s take on vampires, it’s perhaps understandable that she should be pleased with the enterprising Summit Entertainment company and director Catherine Hardwicke for making a movie so faithful to the spirit of the book. Originally she feared the opposite would happen.
The film rights were originally owned by Paramount and she was jolted by a preliminary script treatment.
“Objectively, it was probably a decent vampire movie, but it had nothing to do with Twilight, and you could have produced that movie and never given me any credit because it wasn’t anything to do with the books. That was kind of a horrifying experience. That they could do something that had nothing at all with the story was quite shocking to me.”
But then Summit entered the picture. Paramount’s option on the film rights to Twilight was lapsing and Summit wanted to move in. Meyer was wary: she felt she’d been “naive” to the ways of Hollywood and she didn’t want more of the same. Summit’s response was to ask her what she expected of them if she gave them the rights.
“What if I give you a list of things that absolutely can’t be changed?” she told them. No problem, Summit responded. Meyer wasn’t insisting that everything in the novel was sacrosanct, but some ingredients were fundamental:
“The vampires have to follow the basic rules of the vampire world that I have created. Which means no fangs. Which means no coffins. Which means they sparkle in the sunlight. The characters have to exist in their present names and their present forms, and you can’t kill anyone who doesn’t die in the book. Just basic things like that which were really the foundation of the story. I got it in writing.”
Had the Summit people hesitated in any way over this list, Meyer would probably have not signed with them. But they had no objection. “So I knew they wanted to do it the way it was in my head.”
There have been no more dreams. But there have been more books.
“You don’t get a dream like that twice. I got my chance. And I do feel like I was supposed to be writing and that that dream was a kick in the pants to get it going. And once it started, I didn’t need another one, because once I discovered how wonderful writing was for me, I was ready to go with it.”