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Interview With Stephenie Meyer
Stephenie Meyer found fame with her bestselling Twilight vampire series, which is soon to be a feature film. After the publication of her first novel, Twilight, booksellers chose Stephenie as one of the "most promising new authors of 2005." Stephenie Meyer graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor's degree in English. She lives with her husband and three young sons in Arizona.
Stephenie Meyer's latest novel is The Host, a paranormal romance which takes place after most of humanity has succumbed to an alien species that takes over people's minds, but leaves their bodies healthy and disease-free. Melanie Stryder is a feisty human who refuses to allow the invading alien soul named Wanderer to take over her mind. Melanie pursues her lost love interest, compelling Wanderer to come along for the journey. When Wanderer falls in love with Melanie's boyfriend, things get a bit tricky.
The Host has already found its way onto the New York Times bestseller list. In this interview, Meyer talks about what inspired her to write the book, how she approaches writing romantic science fiction and what writing projects she's working on next.
What inspired the idea for The Host?
The kernel of thought that became The Host was inspired by absolute boredom. I was driving from Phoenix to Salt Lake City, through some of the most dreary and repetitive desert in the world. It's a drive I've made many times, and one of the ways I keep from going insane is by telling myself stories. I have no idea what sparked the strange foundation of a body-snatching alien in love with the host body's boyfriend over the host-body's protest. I was halfway into the story before I realized it. Once I got started, though, the story immediately demanded my attention. I could tell there was something compelling in the idea of such a complicated triangle. I started writing the outline in a notebook, and then fleshed it out as soon as I got to a computer. The Host was supposed to be no more than a side project - something to keep me busy between editing stints on Eclipse - but it turned into something I couldn't step away from until it was done.
Did you approaching writing The Host, your first adult novel, differently than your YA series?
Not at all. Like the Twilight Saga (this is probably the only way The Host is like the Twilight Saga!), The Host is just a story I had fun telling myself. My personal entertainment is always the key to why a story gets finished. I never think about another audience besides myself while I'm writing; that can wait for the editing stage.
You have referred to The Host as being a science fiction novel for people who don't like science fiction. Can you explain why?
Reading The Host doesn't feel like reading science fiction; the world is familiar, the body you as the narrator are moving around inside of is familiar, the emotions on the faces of the people around you are familiar. It's very much set in this world, with just a few key differences. If it weren't for the fact that alien stories are by definition science fiction, I wouldn't classify it in that genre.
There is a lot of internal dialogue between Wanderer, the narrator and invading "soul", and Melanie, the human whose body Wanderer is now living inside. Each character has her own distinct voice and internal struggle. Was it a challenge to have the two characters, who essentially take up one body, stand on their own?
Wanderer and Melanie were very distinct personalities to me from day one; keeping them separate was never an issue. Melanie is the victim - she's the one that we, as humans, should identify with; at the same time, she is not always the more admirable character. She can be angry and violent and ruthless. Wanderer is the attacker, the thief. She is not like us, not even a member of our species. However, she is someone that I, at least, wish I was more like. She's a better person than Melanie in a lot of ways, and yet a weaker person. The differences between the two main characters are the whole point of the story. If they weren't so distinct, there would have been no reason to write it.
Did any of the characters surprise you while writing?
I am constantly surprised by my characters when I write - it's really one of my favorite parts. When a character refuses to do what I had planned for him or her, that's when I know that character is really alive. There were several characters who caught me off guard with The Host. One in particular was slated for a bit part as the wingman to the villain. Somehow, he knew he was more than that, and I couldn't stop him from morphing into a main love interest.
Your Twilight series has had a lot of crossover appeal for adult readers, do you think The Host will also appeal to your younger readers?
I've had a great deal of interest from my YA readers about the release of The Host. I have no doubt that they will continue to make up a core part of my readership. I love blurring the lines between the different genres and categories - because in my head, a good book won't fit inside the lines. I hope that The Host continues to do what the Twilight Saga is doing: showing that a good story doesn't belong to any one demographic.
How do you feel about the enormous success that you've had with the Twilight series? How has it changed your life?
I am continually shocked by the success of my books. I never take it for granted, and I do not count on it in my expectations of my future. It's a very enjoyable thing, and I'll have fun with it while it lasts.
I've always considered myself first and foremost a mother, so being a writer hasn't changed my life too much - except I do travel a lot more and have less free time.
What adult authors do you read?
I've been reading books for adults my entire life. Growing up I was an avid reader - the thicker the book, the better. Pride and Prejudice, Gone with the Wind, The Sword of Shannara, Jane Eyre, Rebecca, etc. I'm a huge fan of Orson Scott Card, and Jane Austen - I can't go through a year without re-reading her stuff again.
I'm currently finishing writing the fourth book in the Twilight saga, Breaking Dawn, which will wrap up Bella and Edward's story. I plan to then write Midnight Sun, which is Twilight told from Edward's perspective. After that, I may write some sequels for The Host, or a may pull another outline from my files to play with. I won't stop writing; there are too many stories I want to tell.