Deadly Ever After

What Twilight Means To Me: Sappiness With Julie

TODAY’S BREW:  Hazelnut. It’s snowing, so there will be a lot.

Countless times I have heard how this or that person read Twilight and said, “I can write better than that.”  And so, they tried, and hundreds of vampire books were born.  And for as many people who think they can write better than Stephanie Meyer, there are half as many who want to write the same exact book as she did.

It was February 2007 when I read Twilight.  It was days after I had my first baby, and I was wandering Walmart with my family, sleep-deprived and wildly happy.  Near the checkout counter, I realized I had nothing to read and grabbed a copy with a picture of Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson on the cover.   I was almost disgusted with myself that I was about to do something everyone did.  Read this novel that couldn’t possibly be good.

That February was very snowy, perfect for holing up with my new baby, both in our pajamas,  me drinking countless cups of decaf tea that did nothing for me.  And it was perfect for me to read that novel, with its overcast gloominess, discovery of so many new things, sparks of love that had never existed before. It was fresh, and made the ordinary extraordinary.  I still remember reading it, this baby that I was hopelessly attached to before I even technically knew I was pregnant sleeping in my arms, warm and cozy, bursting with happiness.  I remember driving him around to get him to nap, and pulling that novel out in random parking lots to read while he slept.  I remember it sitting on the table next to my husband and I in the middle of the night, when he would get up with me so I wouldn’t be exhausted alone.

Having my baby gave me a depth of emotion that I never knew was possible.  Reading Twilight when I was still in the thick of so much new emotion helped me love it, see it as a security blanket in this new world I lived in.  It comforted me with its simplicity when I was afraid, which happened often in those first few weeks.  I read all of the novels in succession, and couldn’t get enough.

It was for this reason, that I said, “I can do this.  I can create something both ordinary and extraordinary, exciting but everyday.  This is new territory that I want to stamp my feet on.”  I was floored by the power of creation, and ready to put feelings out in the open that I would never have allowed before.  It was the first time I had experienced really missing someone…that first night in the hospital when my baby had to be brought to Boston because he had been breach, and had trouble breathing.  To be so far from him, when I needed him so much was devastating.  Thank God he was brought back when I didn’t know if I could take it anymore.  This is a kind of loneliness that I had never experienced, and later was able to portray through Ellie’s agonizing departure from Nicholas that leaves her writhing in pain in her abandoned apartment.  I felt that every second.  The numbing fear that accompanies having children, and not being able to control every aspect of their safety, it helped fuel the love Ellie, Nicholas, Roman and Kat had for each other.  The otherworldly connection that Ellie has with Nicholas that doesn’t allow them to be apart is an extension of the arguably weird connection I have with my baby.  Reading Twilight at this time made me realize that I can open the door with these new emotions to create the novel I always wanted to write.  It would not have been possible before then.  I wasn’t strong enough.

I think I have read Twilight five times.  I read it when I am scared, when I am overwhelmed, and when I need something that I can’t put my finger on.  And I am brought back to this amazing time five years ago when I became a new person, and created a new person, and created Running Home.  Whether the timing was just right or not, reading that book gave me the idea of fate, perfect timing, all things happening to create a bigger picture, and for that I thank Stephenie Meyer endlessly.

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6 thoughts on “What Twilight Means To Me: Sappiness With Julie

  1. It was nice to get to know you more through this post. I could feel your pain and worry. I also enjoyed learning a little more about how your characters came to be and how they were a release for the emotions you were feeling. I’ve heard that building your own world helps you when the true world is to hard to deal with. I agree with that, I’ve done it.
    I was also happy to see another vampire writer say good things about Stephenie Meyer. We writers shouldn’t be dissing other writers. This business is already hard enough, we are already judged enough, at the very least those of us with the imaginations should stand together.
    Great post!

  2. You’re right, Mari. We shouldn’t be dissing other writers. We should be cheering each other on. Not one of us is selling the same product. Julie and I both wrote vampire books. They couldn’t be more different. Mine probably has a lot more in common with Twilight that Running Home. Yet, when I asked my beta readers what book Immortal Dilemma reminded them of, they said it didn’t remind them of anything else. All vampire books. All different.

    I am rereading Twilight right now. It’s not my favorite vampire book, but I am enjoying it more the second time around.

    Here is the praise for it in the inside of the front cover:
    #1 New York Times Bestseller
    #1 USA Today Bestseller
    Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
    Amazon Best Book of the Decade…So Far
    ALA Top Ten Books for Young Adults

    Any writer reading this blog would do anything to have ONE of those distinctions. Stephenie Meyer has them. Until your list of praise looks better than that, you need to focus your energy on making your writing worthy of that list instead of berating someone with those achievements.

    Kristen

  3. The flat ending of “Breaking Dawn” inspired me to write what I consider to be (or my concept of) “better than that“, so I find it highly ironic (and more than a bit amusing) that Meyer and the screenwriters re-worked the ending of the movie “Breaking Dawn Part 2”.

    I don’t judge books’ merit on their chart positions, but Meyer made a powerful connection with her audience, which is the true mark of a great story-teller, regardless of what anyone thinks of her technical skills or her characters.

    Not everyone would say my book is better than Twilight, nor would I want them to. My book isn’t for everybody. My goal was to make those who it is for. love it.

    There are an ocean full of people who say they “can write something better than Twilight”, but only a few and proud who have escaped the waters and are now on the islands of “I did it, and you can read it.”

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