Stephenie Meyer: Twilight and Beyond

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Stephenie Meyer is undoubtedly one of the biggest authors of our generation – and, indeed, ever. She is one of only a few writers to surpass over 150 million book sales; to put that into perspective, if every individual person in the UK owned two Twilight novels, it still would not be enough. Her various novels have been translated into 37 different languages and spawned a multi-award-winning film series that made its stars the highest-paid actors in the world. Although many sceptics are quick to suggest that literally anything is ‘a better love story than Twilight‘, the power of Stephenie Meyer should never be underestimated.

Twilight originally came to Meyer in a dream back in 2003, when she was a stay-at-home mother. In the dream, she saw a sun-lit meadow with a sparkling vampire boy and a human girl. He was explaining to her his internal struggle of being in love with her, and yet wanting to kill her; Meyer wrote down the premise of this dream simply so that she did not forget about it, but as one thing led to another it formed a full novel. This dream sequence became Chapter 13, the pivotal moment where Bella sees the sunlight on Edward’s skin for the first time, and so The Twilight Saga was born. Meyer’s debut novel was published as part of a three-book deal on 5th October 2005 and was subsequently followed by New Moon in 2006, Eclipse in 2007 and finally, a fourth novel, Breaking Dawn, in 2008. The series was accompanied by a spin-off, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, which tied in with the plot of Eclipse and coincided with the release of its movie adaptation, as well as an Official Illustrated Guide to the saga.

In 2008, the first of the Twilight movies was released, starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner as Bella, Edward and Jacob respectively. Meyer makes two cameos in the series – first, she was sat at the bar in the cafe where Bella has lunch with her father (see the header of this article) and later she is a guest at Edward and Bella’s wedding in Breaking Dawn Part 1. The movies were a huge success, propelling their stars to fame and, according to some critics, changed the landscape of cinema by making Hollywood aware of young women as a demographic. For years, the 12-25-year-old male audience had their superhero movies, and now Twilight began female equivalent genre that continued with other franchises such as The Hunger Games and Divergent. According to Empire, ‘Twilight was the first multi-part, billion-dollar franchise that was aimed at and led by women, and which hit big at the box office.’ However, the saga received significant criticism from feminists for Bella’s dependence on Edward and her ‘damsel in distress’ persona, something Meyer tried to address in 2015 with the first gender-swapped reimagining of Twilight, Life and Death. 

Meyer’s Mormon faith means that her novels are relatively tame; there is no drinking or smoking and virginity is an important concept within Bella and Edward’s relationship. However, arguably one of the most significant aspects of the Twilight legacy is E.L. James’ erotic Fifty Shades series, which originated as a Twilight fan fiction but became one of the biggest-selling franchises of our times. In an interview with TIME (below), Meyer said that although she’s happy for James, ‘the raunchy part – I wish that wasn’t attached to Twilight, just because I don’t like to think of it that way’.

As well as The Twilight Saga, Meyer has branched out into adult fiction. The Host (published in 2008) tells the story of a post-apocalyptic Earth in which parasitic aliens inhabit the bodies of humans; the human consciousness is not supposed to survive this process. However, when Wanderer invades the human body of Melanie Stryder, she refuses to give up control of her body and they are forced to work as one. Despite her intentions to turn The Host into a trilogy, something she discusses in the above interview, there have been no sequels published, but it was adapted into a movie starring Saoirse Ronan in 2013. In 2016, Meyer published her second adult novel, The Chemist, about an ex-agent on the run from her employers. Fickle Fish Productions, Meyer’s own production company, confirmed they were adapting The Chemist into a television series in 2018.

On Tuesday 4th August, Stephenie Meyer will be reviving The Twilight Saga by publishing Midnight Sun, the first Twilight novel from Edward’s perspective. I’d imagine my friends can’t wait, simply because once I’ve read it I might finally shut up about how excited I am – when I was 10, I was so staunchly Team Edward that I bookmarked the pages in New Moon where he was absent and would skip them (along with the Jacob section of Breaking Dawn) whenever I re-read them. It will certainly be interesting to re-enter Meyer’s universe a decade after the main series ended; maybe, in the middle of a pandemic which makes our futures look pretty uncertain, it’s about time we embrace our childhood nostalgia once again.

Midnight Sun will be published by Little, Brown Book Group on 4th August 2020.

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English student, Culture/Film PR Officer 2020/21 and News Editor 2019/20. Can usually found listening to the same playlists and watching the same films over and over.

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