'Twilight' is the film which knocked James Bond's 'Quantum of Solace' off the top spot, when it opened in the States. Based on the books by Stephanie Meyer, the vampire thriller stars Robert Pattinson, Cam Gigandet and Kristen Stewart. RTÉ.ie caught up with the author to find out more about the film adaptation.
RTÉ.ie: Tell us a little bit about your life before Twilight.
Stephenie Meyer: Well I have no idea how a mother of three came to dream about and then write about vampires. I was a housewife, raising my three children with my husband, Pancho. It was a normal, everyday life in Glendale, Arizona. I am of the Mormon faith and we live just down the road from the school were my kids go. But then I had this dream about Edward and Bella and things kind of took off!
RTÉ.ie: You've been asked about the dream that inspired the story in the first place many times. Was it a unique occurrence, or do you regularly look to dreams for inspiration?
SM: I really haven’t had any other dreams that I wanted to write. There were stories that I wanted to think about. But this dream was something different. It was very clear and not your usual thing that you forget when you get up in the morning. So I think it was my cue to start writing. That I should have been doing it before and I just wasn’t getting there so I needed this little extra help.
RTÉ.ie: Did you always have a clearly defined idea of the characters, or did you change how you thought about them as the writing progressed?
SM: I think I struck the tone and characters pretty much from the outset. The voice, Bella’s voice, I didn’t have to work too hard on that. She was a very distinct person for me. The way she expressed herself. I had a clear idea of who they are. I pretty much started writing the moment I got up that day. I sat down and wrote out the first few lines that are now the first lines of chapter 13 in the book.
RTÉ.ie: One of the most noticeable things about Bella, in comparison with other modern teenage heroes and heroines, is her absence of cynicism, of nihilism – no drinking, drugs, swearing or raging against the establishment. Is this based on your own teenage years or is it how you think teenagers should act?
SM: First, I really don’t write about religion and my characters aren’t specifically religious in any way. I suppose it does influence me because I think about things like, ‘What comes next? Why am I here? What am I doing here? What is the purpose?’ And my characters think about those things. I think it’s important in a book that is about immortality to think about these things. It makes the characters seem more real. For me, my own experiences as a teenager, with dating and stuff, was pretty mundane and unexciting, so the book’s a really dangerous adventure that I can enjoy safely!
RTÉ.ie: How did you go about creating Edward’s character? How do you feel about him?
SM: I saw him in the dream, that’s it. I love Edward. I am a lot more like him than I am Bella. He tries to live by a certain code, a certain set of rules. People sometimes ask which character I’d like to bring alive from the book. I usually say Alice because she’d make a great best friend. But if I weren’t married, I’d pick Edward!
RTÉ.ie: While the novels are definitely romantic, they have been associated with the Horror genre, if only to show how different they are from most horror fiction. If you were to looking at it from an outsider's perspective, since you've said you're not really a horror fan, what do you like and dislike about it?
SM: Really, the story for me just doesn’t fit into one genre. When you say a romance you have certain expectations. When you say horror there are different ones and the book and the movie, neither of them really fit that. I would say romance more than horror but it’s all just the story about people being human. I don’t know what that comes under, what the genre title is for that so it is hard to classify it. As regards horror, I was inspired to write about vampires because I had a dream about vampires which was odd for me because I’d had no interest in vampires before I started to write about them so why I was dreaming about them, I don’t know. But it was a great dream and it wasn’t about this character being a monster. It was about this character trying to be human and that was what fascinated me and that’s what made me want to write it down
RTÉ.ie: How much do you feel had to be changed in the transition from book to movie? Things like Bella's first person perspective, for example.
SM: Obviously certain changes have to be made for the film. Having a book made into a film is a risky process. We all probably see more failures than we see winners on that one. So when they first approached me, (it wasn’t Summit the first time) and said ‘Do you want to do this, do you want to make your book into a movie?’ I had to really weigh that up, and I’m not a risk taker so it was hard. But because I had always seen the book in my head like a movie it seemed a natural step to me and that maybe if it was conveyed right…Basically, there’s no way you can take a book this long and make into a movie without making some changes. I went into the screening terrified. I had seen maybe on the days on the set about 5 minutes of actual screen time. I hadn’t seen much of it. This was still a rough-cut and I was going to give them everything they needed to change it and I didn’t write a single thing down. At the end I just sat there and I wanted to watch it again!
You're far more involved with your fan community than a lot of other writers. Isn't it tiring, constantly keeping up with them and their moods?
SM: The fans are amazing, that’s one of the good sides of this, and I like to keep my website going. It’s fun.
How involved were you with the making of the movie?
SM: About 90% of my suggestions were taken in. They’d come to me to consider the actors. But I was open to their interpretation. Me and Katherine Hardwicke, the director, really hung out and got along great. I was only set for a while though. It wasn’t like I was hanging around all the time. I did have to do the cameo role, though, which I didn’t want to do. Katherine said, ‘Hey, we think the fans will really get kick out it if you’re in this movie briefly!’ And I am like, ‘How briefly is briefly? A second?’ And they said ‘Sure!’ But then they wanted me to do lines and I said, ‘We don’t want to have this movie tanked because I’m such a horrible!’ So in the end I am just sitting there but even still, I am on the screen for way too long. And it is horrifying so to everyone I am sorry. It wasn’t my idea.
As well as being gratifying, is the intensity of some fans' reaction to the books a little disturbing?
SM: Not really. What I don’t like is that I do feel that fame can have a downside, and it’s hard for me to realise that there are people who really don’t like me, although they’ve never met me. They just have an idea of who you I am from interviews and stuff. People can be very negative, and I do have a hard time with that.
Do you see yourself getting more involved in movies, or do you prefer to stick to writing?
SM: Oh, writing, of course. I’ve loved the movie experience, it’s been so exciting, but the greatest thing that has come out of this for me is the discovery of writing.
'Twilight' opens in cinemas on 19 December.