18 days and counting.
When Stephenie Meyer‘s website began a cryptic countdown at the beginning of May, Twihards all over the world waited with bated breath to see whether, twelve years after the publication of the final book in the main saga, we would finally be getting another Twilight novel. Sure enough, it was revealed that Midnight Sun would be published worldwide on 4th August 2020.
Of course, Midnight Sun is not an entirely new phenomenon. Back in 2008, a section of one of Meyer’s early drafts leaked online. It told the story of the first Twilight novel from the perspective of protagonist Bella Swan’s main love interest, Edward Cullen – a man who, if you are somehow unfamiliar with the series, also happens to be a vampire. The leaked extract told the story of Edward meeting Bella for the first time and being overwhelmed not only by the scent of her blood but also the fact that she was the first person he had ever encountered whose mind he could not read. In the original novel, Bella was incredibly confused as to why he looked at her as though he was ready to murder her; understanding the motives behind his behaviour through the medium of Midnight Sun added a whole other dimension to the saga. However, hopes of getting a full story were dashed, as at the time Meyer was so heartbroken by the leak that she told fans on her website that she ‘[felt]too sad about what has happened to continue working on Midnight Sun, and so it is on hold indefinitely.’ Although she urged fans not to read the leak, many did, soaking up the twelve available chapters and dreaming that one day we would get a continuation into (and beyond) the infamous meadow scene.
This year marks fifteen years since the publication of the first Twilight novel, and although the main saga ended in 2008, this is not the first time Stephenie Meyer has revisited and extended them. In 2010, she published the novella The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, which delved into more detail on the newborn army created by Victoria in Eclipse; aspects of this spin-off also influenced the plot of the corresponding film. In 2011, The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide was published, which acted as an encyclopaedia to accompany the series. As well as answering frequently asked questions about the series, Meyer used this as an opportunity to explore the backstories of characters who are briefly mentioned in the main saga, such as individual members of the Volturi and the vampires assembled by the Cullens as ‘witnesses’ in Breaking Dawn.
Although fans are largely happy to see Midnight Sun coming to fruition, these backstories raised questions about whether Meyer would eventually add more spin-offs to her collection, leading to some disappointment. This frustration was also voiced back in 2015 when Meyer chose to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Twilight with Life and Death, a re-imagining which simply swapped the genders of each character and slightly altered the original ending rather than providing new content. Requests across social media have ranged from a spin-off about Alice and Jasper, to a full breakdown of the drama that took place in the Volturi several hundred years before the Cullens existed (the video below pieces together various aspects of their story, told across the novels and in the illustrated guide – it, therefore, contains several spoilers!). Perhaps if Midnight Sun goes down well with fans, it may encourage Meyer to explore these ideas; at the moment, however, they remain pure fantasy.
It will be very interesting to see whether she uses Midnight Sun as a vehicle to explore some of these ideas, though; Meyer was critical of the leaked draft, so whether or not she alters those chapters much in the published edition will be very interesting to see. If she does, having Edward as the narrator allows the opportunity for readers to learn a lot more about the vampire world – and in particular could allow a much more in-depth look at Jasper and Alice, as we may get to see Alice’s reaction to discovering her past at the end of the novel.
Whatever she’s chosen to do with this long-awaited novel, it inevitably is a huge talking point. It will certainly be very interesting to see how fans react, and whether she will one day extend The Twilight Saga further.
Midnight Sun will be published by Little, Brown Book Group on 4th August 2020. Remind yourself of the plot of Twilight by watching the trailer below: