So by now it is no secret that author Stephenie Meyer has become a household name for millions of young girls (and their mothers) who have collectively purchased approximately 7.5 million books from her Twilight trilogy, with another 3.2 million books ready to fly off the shelf when the fourth and final installment of the series, Breaking Dawn, is released at 12:01 am on August 2nd. (You can read the opening pages of Breaking Dawn by going here.)
Besides the fan fervor surrounding Breaking Dawn is the arguably greater fervor surrounding the cinematic release of the series’ first installment, Twilight, which arrives in theaters this December. Of course, anyone familiar with the books shouldn’t be surprised with the overwhelming anticipation for the movie’s release, but I think even Meyer and the cast of the film were blown away by the level of mania they experienced during the packed-house panel for Twilight at this year’s Comic-Con.
But for those over the age of eighteen who are not mothers to screaming droves of teenage girls, Twilight may still be somewhat of a mystery. That said, we here at Screen Rant have prepared the ultimate crib sheet to bring you up to speed on the books, the film – the phenomenon that is Twilight.
J.K. ROWLING WITH FANGS
At the turn of the Millennium, Stephenie Meyer was just a Mormon housewife living in Phoenix, AZ, caring for her husband and three small boys by day, while writing for her pleasure by night. Her stories mostly revolved around a whip-smart young girl named Bella Swan, who moved from Phoenix to the rainy/misty town of Forks, Washington. Arriving in her new home, Bella was smitten with a tall, pale, handsome young man named Edward Cullen. There’s was just one problem: Edward was a vampire.
Though his family had long since abstained from drinking human blood, Edward couldn’t resist the lure of Bella’s scent, their love always one step ahead of tragedy. When an evil vampire learned that Edward had a human squeeze, he took to hunting Bella for sport, forcing Edward to make a hard choice between his heart and his fangs.
Meyer submitted chapters from her fledging manuscript to a small women writers group that she belonged to, until their praise finally gave her enough nerve to send a teaser query out to a handful of literary agents. One agency bit, landing Meyer a deal with publisher Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; pleased with Meyer’s pitch about a three book series, Little, Brown signed the untested author to a $750,000 dollar deal. Twilight was released in 2005, moving copy after copy despite lukewarm reviews from critics.
The rest, as they say, is history.
From Book To Empire
No one could have predicted what a success Twilight would be. Even Little, Brown was having a bit of buyer’s remorse at first, dispatching a publicist from NYC out to Phoenix to ensure that their new author wasn’t some bumpkin who was going to go wide-eyed at seeing a handful of people line up for her book signings. Their anxiety was wasted: 3.2 million books in print later, Twilight was a smashing success and Meyers, the housewife, was a bonafide literary rock star.
Two more books, New Moon and Eclipse followed in subsequent years (2006, 2007), flying off shelves just as quickly (2.6 and 1.6 million copies in print, respectively.) Eclipse even had the distinct honor of knocking the last Harry Potter book, Deathly Hallows, out of its long-held top spot. Chapters 2 and 3 of the series managed to expand the Twilight universe to a place rife with forbidden love, Werewolves, more Vampires, and a rival suitor named Jacob (a werewolf), who hopes to steal Bella’s heart away from Edward by the end of Breaking Dawn.
With the books’ underlying themes of adolescent awkwardness and the struggle with sexual tension, Meyer had tapped into a powerful vein that young girls everywhere (as well as stifled housewives, still age eighteen in their heads,) could sink their teeth into. Combine that fan base with the always-thirsty sect of goth vampire-worshipers, and it’s easy to see just what kind of crowd would, well, crowd the halls of Comic-con, or the lobbies of bookstores everywhere, whenever Meyer pays a visit.
The fan base has grown to such massive size (mostly coordinated by the Internet) that they’ve been given their own monikers such as “Twilighters,” or (my personal favorite,) “Twihards.” The fan cults take things to the usual extremes: hammering Meyers with overly analytical questions like, “How do the Vampires resist when Bella is on her period? ” Or citing the series as the sole reason why they didn’t commit suicide. (A pretty flimsy reason to live, if you ask me). Thankfully for her, Meyer has a pillow made of money to rest her weary head on every night that the fan-mania leaves her drained.
Bloody Good Future
However, things are not all love in the Twilight universe. A quick glance at the customer reviews over at Amazon reveal two distinct camps of thought about the series: those who are obsessed with it, vs. those looking sideways at the those obsessed it, wondering just what the hell might be wrong with them. (As a graduate student studying creative writing myself, I can tell you that, technically speaking, Meyer’s craft has room for vast improvement – a fact even the author herself seems to be aware of.) Said Meyer about fan reaction to the first chapter of Breaking Dawn that she posted online:
”There were a lot of people,” says Meyer, laughing and throwing her hands up in the air, ”who said, ‘This isn’t the real first chapter, the writing is so bad!”
I’ll second that opinion.
However bad the writing may or may not be, it will make little difference come August 2nd, when Breaking Dawn hits shelves nationwide. Fans of the books are already invested so deeply in the Twilight universe that Meyer could write “all work and no play” for 200 pages and still turn a profit from the pre-sold copies of Breaking Dawn, which has been No. 1 on Amazon for weeks now.
But movies, as they say, are a whole different animal. Actor Robert Pattinson (Harry Potter 4) found this out first-hand, when fans hit the Web in mass protest of his casting as Edward, Bella’s bloodsucking beau.
”I stopped reading after I saw the signatures saying ‘Please, anyone else,”’ Pattinson says, laughing.
Still, the scene at Comic-Con seems to suggest that many of the early wrinkles amongst fans have smoothed out since the film has edged closer to release; it’s almost assured that the film will be another solid payday for Meyer, and help push sales of the Twilight series even further through the roof than they already are.
As for Meyer herself? She is set to do a four-city tour for Breaking Dawn, before directing her focus to other upcoming projects, which include an adult romance/sci-fi book called The Host, (which sold for $600,000 at auction, and already has two sequels in the works); a ghost story called Summer House; and, for all those ‘Twihards’ out there: Midnight Sun, a retelling of Twilight from Edward’s vampiric point of view. Don’t count this lady out as a one-hit wonder. She just might be the next Anne Rice, reaping all that comes along with that title.
Are you a Twilight fan? Will you be camped outside bookstores and movie theaters trying to be the first to suck up all that Meyer’s vampire universe has bled? Or do you have yet to feed on her body of work? Let us know what you think.
Source: Entertainment Weekly