The Los Angeles press junket for Twilight kicked off with a press conference with Stephenie Meyer, author of the bestselling teen vampire romance novel and its three successors: New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. Meyer visited the set of Twilight during filming and was even asked to give notes/suggestions once a rough cut of the film was put together. According to the novelist, she was included in the process and believes director Catherine Hardwicke found the right actors to bring her vampires, and the humans they interact with, to life on the big screen.
Stephenie Meyer Interview
Why would you say is the reason for the incredible popularity of the series that you started? What do you think the essence of why so many 12 and 14 year old girls cannot live without reading every one of these books?
Stephenie Meyer: "I don’t know. It’s hard for me to answer that because for me it’s an absolute mystery. I read a lot of books and some of them that I love are really popular and there are just others that I just think, 'Why isn’t everybody in the world reading this book? It’s so amazing.' So when one book takes off it’s, 'Why? Why does it ever happen?' I don’t know why people respond to these books the way they do. I know why I do, because I wrote it for me. It’s exactly what I wanted to read so of course I'm really hooked on it, and for other people it’s kind of bizarre actually."
Did you write it with the idea of it was going to be sort of like preteens or young teenage girls? That was going to be your audience?
Stephenie Meyer: "No, I had a very specific audience and it was a 29 year old mother of three. No one was ever supposed to read this except for me and if I’d had any idea that anyone else would ever see what I was doing, I would have never been able to finish it – way, way too much pressure."
I’m curious about how much input you had with the script and how much they listened to you as far as lines that you needed to keep in or events.
Stephenie Meyer: "It was a really pleasant exchange from the beginning, which is I think not very typical. I don't know. They were really interested in my ideas and I didn’t go in thinking… I really didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. I don’t know how to make a movie, I didn’t want to get in the way and make it worse or, you know, screw it up somehow. So I let them come to me, and they did. And they kept me in the loop and with the script, they let me see it and said, 'What are your thoughts?' And so they really opened themselves up there, and I sent them back the script with red marks, the whole thing. And it was stuff like, 'Wouldn't Bella say this more like this? Wouldn't this sound more like her voice?' It wasn't like, 'This whole scene needs to go,' because it was in really good shape from the beginning. But they let me have input on it and I think they took 90 percent of what I said and just incorporated it right in to the script."
There was a key line about the lion and the lamb that you insisted they keep.
Stephenie Meyer: "You know, that was an interesting thing because I actually think the way Melissa [Rosenberg] wrote it sounded better for the movie. It really did. It was just a little bit more relaxed, but the problem is is that line is actually tattooed on peoples’ bodies and, you know, which I don’t approve of by the way. But I said, 'You know, if you take that one and change it, that's a potential backlash situation.' And if there's a place where we can make it, you know, give a little shout out to the fans, do something for them, that was what I thought about that."
Is it true that you didn’t want to commit to the film until they promised you there would be no fangs?
Stephenie Meyer: "Yes. It was an interesting thing because when we started out with this I actually sold the rights to a different company. I got a look at a script that, you know, objectively [was] probably a decent vampire movie that had nothing at all to do with Twilight. It was just you could have produced that movie and never given me any credit because it wasn’t anything to do with the books. And that was kind of a horrifying experience. Like, I had realized it could go wrong and that they could do it badly, but that they would do something that had nothing at all to do with the story, it was kind of shocking to me. And I know that’s because I'm really naïve. So when I went back in to this and I had learned and Summit said, 'We really want to do this.' And I was weary and I said, 'You know, I'm just not sure.' And they said, 'What can we do for you?' I said, 'What if I give you a list of things that absolutely can't be changed?' And I’m not talking like I said, 'Okay, you have to read…and it has to be exactly like the book.' It was very fundamental outline things like, you know, the vampires have to have the basic rules of the vampire world I've created, which means no fangs, which means no coffins, which means they sparkle in the sunlight. The characters have to exist by their present names and in their present forms and you can't kill anyone who doesn't die in the book, and just basic things like that that were really just the foundation of the story."
And you got that in writing?
Stephenie Meyer: "I got it in writing. That's the best thing about working with a new company, is they're really open to working with you. You don’t get that with, you know, a big, huge group."
How did you get the rights back?
Stephenie Meyer: "The option period was up and they weren’t going to use it, and that's actually where Summit came in and said, 'Can we roll over your option? Can we have it?' And I wouldn't have done it because I, you know, I’d learned my lesson except that they, I could tell, if I’d come to them and given them this list and say, 'Okay, these are the things I want,' and they had hesitated or put on the breaks and said, 'Wow, I’m not sure about this…' But they were like, 'Oh, of course.' And so I knew that they wanted to do it the way it was in my head."