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Stephenie Meyer was just an ordinary housewife who had no inkling that she had what it takes to be a great writer. She was living a normal but in 2003 she claimed to have dreamt of an idea for a novel. In her dream she saw a typical teenage girl conversing with a typical looking young man, the only difference was that he was a vampire. When she pursued the idea and wrote it down so she can submit it to publishing houses she had no idea that after the book would be released in 2005 her life would never be the same again. The success of the Twilight series of books would bring her fame and financial success while at the same time opened doors for her to do more than writing novels.
This paper will take a closer look at Stephenie Meyer’s life and try to find out how she was able to accomplish so much, in short, a very short time. The speed at which she was able to break into the ranks of literary giants who were so gifted as writers they were not only able to sell more than a million copies of their novels they were also able to sell the rights to turn their books into movies. Her rapid ascendancy into the bestseller list is an inspiration to many aspiring writers but on the downside, there is very little information because her career so far can only be traced as far back as 2005. Thus, most of the pertinent information that will appear in this paper was taken from her official website unless stated otherwise.
Before going any further it must be pointed out that her first name is an odd derivative of a popular girl’s name. According to her official website that can be found at www.stepheniemeyer.com her name was taken from her Dad’s first name and adding a little twist as seen in the following formulation: Stephen + me = Stephenie. The author adds that she is used to the fact that her name will be misspelled but looking at the bright side, she remarked that it is much easier to Google her name and not confuse her with other similar-sounding names in the search result list.
Stephenie Meyer was born in Connecticut in 1973. She was the second of three girls in a family of six children where the last three are all boys. When she was four years old her family moved to Phoenix, Arizona. She is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is more popularly known as the Mormons. Her faith shapes her writing and influences the shaping of the plot of her novels. More information regarding this subject matter will be added later.
Her high school life will help explain the origins and the inspiration behind some of the more sophisticated characters in her novel. She went to a high school in Scottsdale, Arizona where the kids are from affluent families. Meyer pointed out that every fall she would come back to school to find that some of her classmates had undergone plastic surgery, specifically a nose job. She also said that every fall she would see some of her classmates park their new Porsches in the school parking lot. She was quick to add that she still has her original nose and that she did not have her car up until she was in her twenties.
She may not be born with a silver spoon in her mouth but it is also clear that she did not come from a poor background. One only has to do a little computation. It has been mentioned earlier that she belonged to a brood of six and yet her family can still afford to give her a good education. Her enrollment in an upscale school can be partially explained by the fact that his father was the CFO of a certain contracting firm.
After high school, Meyer went to study at the Brigham Young University (“BYU”) in Provo, Utah. In the official website of BYU, one can find the following statement, “Established in 1875, the university provides an outstanding education in an atmosphere consistent with the ideals and principles of its sponsor, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Brigham Young University, par. 1). Once this is a revealing part of her biography which will later be linked to the way she writes her novels.
She graduated from BYU with a bachelor’s degree in English. It was also in BYU where she met her future husband, Christian who was studying to become an accountant. They were married when she was 21 years old and decided to live in a town called Cave Creek, in a large modern house guarded by towering saguaro cacti (Grossman, par. 4). She lives with her husband and three young sons in Phoenix, Arizona
The Twilight Books
In June 2003 she began writing Twilight. Meyer said that at that time she was a housewife taking care of three young boys whom she described as “like chimpanzees on crack”, Gabe her firstborn was six at that time, Seth was 3 and Eli was one year old. It was more like an understatement when she said that she had no idea how she was able to survive those years and more importantly write a best-selling book.
One could just imagine the pressure of taking care of three sons, bringing them to school, feeding them, teaching them, and then in the midst of all that write a spellbinding book. She did what most aspiring writers would have done, which is to write after everyone’s asleep. She kept at it until after three months when her first rough draft was completed. Her hard work was not immediately rewarded because her first novel was made available after two years of waiting. But it was worth it. She is now a novelist, dream come true. But there is more; she was able to write two more sequels, New Moon and Eclipse. In the words of one writer, “Together the three Twilight books have sold more than 5.3 million copies in the U.S … They’ve spent a combined 143 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list; when Eclipse was released … it bumped the final Harry Potter book out of the top spot on some lists even though it came out only 2 ½ weeks later (Grossman, par. 2). She began to receive rave reviews for her work and Twilight is now a major motion picture from Paramount.
It can be said as ironic, the title of the series “Twilight” is the exact opposite of what happened to Meyer’s career when her first book hit the shelves in 2005. It started a phenomenon and instead of dragging her career down the littered path of long-forgotten authors, Stephanie Meyer can now be considered as being on her way and approaching the same privileged heights currently occupied by the likes of J.K. Rowling of the Harry Potter fame.
- A New York Times Editor’s Choice
- A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
- An Amazon “Best Book of the Decade… So Far”
- A Teen People “Hot List” pick
- An American Library Association “Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults” and “Top Ten Best Book for Reluctant Readers”
Aside from obviously being a few million dollars richer, Meyer had to contend with another consequence of fame which could mean the unpredictable reaction of the most rabid fans and this is what was documented so far, “People dress up like her characters. They write their own stories about them and post their tales on the Internet. When she appears at a bookstore 3,000 people go to meet her. There are Twilight-themed rock bands” (Grossman, par. 3). Meyer was one of the first to recognize that it is a roller-coaster ride.
Although she is not the first to write about vampires there is something original about the way she writes and even a casual review of her book Twilight will leave the impression that there is a freshness to her work. Thus it is inevitable that she will be asked as to where she got the inspiration to write her first book and Meyer said that it came from a dream and she added, “In my dream, two people were having an intense conversation in a meadow in the woods. One of these people was just your average girl. The other person was fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire” (stepheniemeyer.com, The Story Behind Twilight, par. 4). This may be true or not but one this is for sure it will add more fireworks to an already impressive book.
Fans all over the world as well as aspiring writers are very interested to know why she succeeded while others had failed. Without a doubt, the subject matter is very interesting, not the vampires per se but the idea of immortality, superhuman strength, beauty, forbidden love, etc. These ingredients are all well-mixed and well-balanced in the easy-to-follow plot of Twilight. But one writer was more intuitive and discovered the link between Meyer’s writing style and her faith in Mormonism, “The characters in Meyer’s books aren’t Mormons, but her beliefs are key to understanding her singular talent … What makes Meyer’s books so distinctive is that they’re about the erotics of abstinence. Their tension comes from prolonged, superhuman acts of self-restraint” (Grossman, par. 5). Thus, it is not easy to put down Twilight and the other two sequels.
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Getting to Know Her
The preceding discussion provides a basic idea of who she is but most of the information given above can be considered as more business-like and less is known about her real self. At this point, the reader is well-aware of her educational background and has a clear understanding of what she is capable of as a writer. But she is still shrouded in mystery like Edward Cullen, one of the main characters in her novel Twilight. Well, any biography could only do so much but to get to know her better the following list of her favorite authors, her favorite music to listen as well as the other activities that occupy her time will create a more interesting portrait of Stephenie Meyer.
On her official website, she listed the following authors who influenced her writing style:
- Orson Scott Card;
- William Shakespeare;
- Jane Austen;
- Charlotte Bronte;
- L.M. Montgomery;
- Louisa May Alcott;
- Janet Evanovich;
- William Goldman and the list goes on and on.
She also confessed that she could not write without music and her list of favorite bands provides a clue as to what makes her tick:
- My Chemical Romance;
- The All American Rejects;
- Jimmy Eat World; and
Aside from writing novels, she is also interested in visiting eBay – which makes her a normal person – as well as not-so-ordinary stuff like collaborating with one of her favorite bands Jack’s Mannequin (Montgomery, par. 1). Meyer was tapped to direct a music video for the group and she could now add another feather to her cap so to speak. Her writing talent seems to know no bounds. But she is also very careful not to let everything go into her head and puff her up with pride. In an interview conducted by TIME Magazine, she was asked the question, “How do you feel about being compared to J.K. Rowling?” (Rahn, par. 3). Meyer replied that she was flattered by the comparison but added that there is a backlash because according to her people will then say, “Who does she think she is?” (Rahn, par. 3). Her humility may help ensure that she will continue to find lucrative work for a very long time.
There was enough information that will enable the casual researcher the capability to scratch the surface and know something about the current toast of the town, Stephenie Meyer. She has been considered as one of the most promising authors and her body of work is a testament to that fact. But there are even those who began comparing her to J.K. Rowling. Those who are intrigued by her and desire to know what makes her tick will do well by considering her choice of music, her favorite authors, and her hobbies. It is revealing to know that she loves reading Shakespeare and other heavyweight authors like Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte but at the same time, she listens to My Chemical Romance and bands with names like Jimmy Eat World and Weezer. No wonder she can connect to both young and old.
- Brigham Young University. “BYU Overview.” 2008.
- Grossman, Lev. “Stephenie Meyer: A New J.K. Rowling?” 2008. Time Magazine Archive.
- Meyer, Stephenie. Twilight: A Novel. 1st ed. New York: Time Warner Group, 2005.
- Montgomery, James. “Twilight Author Stephenie Meyer to Direct Vampire-Free Jack’s
- Mannequin Video.” 2008. MTV [online]. Web.
- Rahn, Reed. “10 Questions for Stephenie Meyer.” 2008. Time Magazine Archive.
- The Official Website of Stephanie Meyer. Web.