Stephenie Meyer: The Unauthorized Biography of the Creator of the Twilight Saga

Stephenie Meyer: The Unauthorized Biography of the Creator of the Twilight Saga

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by Marc Shapiro
     
 

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The romance of vampire Edward and human Bella in the books Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn has captured the imaginations of millions of readers and become an amazing success story. No less amazing is the story of how an unknown Arizona wife and mother, Stephenie Meyer, became a superstar author.

In this revealing

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Overview

The romance of vampire Edward and human Bella in the books Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn has captured the imaginations of millions of readers and become an amazing success story. No less amazing is the story of how an unknown Arizona wife and mother, Stephenie Meyer, became a superstar author.

In this revealing biography, fans of all things Twilight will follow their favorite writer on her roller-coaster ride to bestselling author--from a childhood steeped in great literature, to a comfortable domestic life, and finally to that fateful dream one night that thrust Stephenie Meyer into a world she could only have imagined.

In this book you will discover:

* An exclusive interview with Stephenie's creative writing teacher who reveals what kind of student she was

* The in-depth story of how Twilight started with a dream and became a reality

* The tension Stephenie experienced in writing Twilight in secret

* The challenges and pitfalls involved in her books reaching the silver screen

* Stephenie's possible plans for the future

* And much more!

With eight pages of full-color photos, original interviews with people who are a part of Meyer's life, never-before-revealed details, and info on all of her fabulous books, this biography is a must-have for every Twilight fan.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Sarah Flowers
Shapiro's stock in trade is writing unauthorized celebrity biographies. In this one, he takes on Stephenie Meyer. He briefly covers her childhood and young adult life, tells the now-familiar story of the dream that led to the writing of Twilight, and discusses the writing of the other novels and the making of the movies. There are only two original sources in the book: a Brigham Young University professor who provides a few impressions of the college-student Meyer, and a newspaper editor from Forks, Washington, who shares some observations of Meyer's visit to the town. The rest is culled from newspapers, magazines, and Web sites. There is no attempt at analysis, whether of Meyer or her books, which produces more or less an extended fan magazine article. Some of Meyer's legions of fans may find it worth reading, but most will not find anything new here. They will have already read the articles on which the book is based. Reviewer: Sarah Flowers
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up—With "Twilight Fever" sweeping the nation, it is no surprise that biographies of Meyer would begin to appear on the scene. Though there are some references to the author's youth, the focus of this volume is on the years she spent writing the four books. Shapiro uses quotes from magazine and Web site interviews as his primary sources of information. Quotes from friends and family have also been lifted from previous interviews, except for a professor of Meyer's who was interviewed specifically for the book. Shapiro's saccharine approach to his subject matter does nothing to breathe new life into these old facts. Meyer is portrayed as a cookie-cutter perfect mother and wife with no attention paid to who she is as a real person. Die-hard fans of her work are likely to read it, but they are sure to be disappointed with this lackluster offering.—Shari Fesko, Southfield Public Library, MI
Publishers Weekly
Though the Twilight phenomenon is nearly half a decade old (the first movie released more than a year ago), this biography of series author Stephenie Meyer seems rushed to print, short on insight and long on secondary sources. With admirable breeziness, celebrity biographer Shapiro (J.K. Rowling: The Wizard Behind Harry Potter) culls Meyer's less-than-fascinating story from a mountain of (repetitive) interviews and articles: Meyer's sibling-filled Mormon childhood, her inspiration for the bestselling franchise (it came to her in a dream), and her present stardom, as well as the development of each book and the two movies so far released. With a fawning tone and a heavy emphasis on Meyer's family values and religion, this volume should appeal to avid fans, but even they may be disappointed by the lack of conflict or new info ("unauthorized" status notwithstanding) outside of an interesting appendix of Meyer's musical influences and original interviews with several Meyer associates. 8 pages color photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312638290
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
01/05/2010
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.58(w) x 8.32(h) x 0.62(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

one

Fame . . . What’s Your Name?

Cave Creek, Arizona, is a chamber of commerce dream. It is an artsy, antique kind of town. Big on family, a sense of community, and just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of Phoenix. The surrounding desert landscape does not so much distract as it does complement the town. It is the type of place people come to relax and get away from it all.

In the case of Stephenie Meyer, it was the kind of place to come, raise a family, embrace her faith, and to live a fulfilling, quiet, and relaxing life.

But when Stephenie Meyer returned to her home in Cave Creek in the summer of 2008, it was far from a quiet time.

You could see it on her face. Her eyes would occasionally reflect that thousand-mile stare that comes from not enough sleep. The tight little smile, which had looked so precious when her first book, Twilight, came out, was now often showing a hint of being forced. If you caught any of her television interviews or YouTube videos that were making the rounds in support of her new novel, The Host, Twilight the movie, and all her previous books, you might have caught some hints of resignation as she waited for the questions she knew were coming and mentally readied herself for the by now automatic responses.

And the endless round of reporters were not making the task easy. That the entire story, by 2008, had been told too many times to count did not stop lazy reporters from asking the "dream" question, the "how does it feel to be famous" question, and the "how did you know so much about vampires" question. It was as if everybody was satisfied with the obvious angles on Stephenie’s life and not really anxious to discover more. Which is why things that would occasionally slip out during media interviews and book-signing question-and-answers that should have been of interest rarely rated a note on the numerous Twilight and Stephenie Web sites.

To be sure, there were exceptions to the rule. A Phoenix New Times article dug deeper than most and so came away with things we did not know. And although it was all primarily surface glitz and gloss, Entertainment Weekly managed to pluck a few nuggets of new info out of the basket. But for the most part it was all the same, repeated to the nth degree. It was enough to drive this mild-mannered Mormon wife and mother turned bestselling author to . . . well, go all vampire on them. But Stephenie was the good soldier, perhaps still at a stage when the excitement of it all had not yet been trumped by the tedium, who smiled until it hurt, and did interviews until her mind turned to mush.

And then limped home . . . to do the work that needed to be done.

Looking forward to some quiet time with her husband and three children after coming off a grueling weeks-long promotional tour, Meyer was immediately thrust into a three-day marathon of fine-tuning Breaking Dawn, the final novel in her tale of human and vampire love in the isolated town of Forks, Washington. The book was primed for an August 2008 release with advance orders already clocking in at more than three million.

But despite every sign in the universe pointing to the author having made that final leap to stardom, as recently as early 2008, Stephenie was insisting to everybody who asked, including Vogue, that what she had accomplished was still small potatoes.

"It’s still a small family business," she said. "It’s just a little family thing. I couldn’t deal with it if I couldn’t keep it small."

By the time she sat down with Breaking Dawn, Stephenie had already discovered certain realities of the writing life, not the least of which was the time it was taking away from her family. Not that her husband and children were complaining. They had long since discovered the reality of Stephenie’s new life and the shorthand that indicated it was time for her to be alone to write.

Twilight had been written for herself. She has said more times than she can count that she never thought anybody would read it. New Moon was essentially finished before Twilight was even published. But by the time she sat down to write Eclipse, there were agents and publishers to consult with, interviews to do in support of her books, and perhaps most important, deadlines that were constantly in evidence that had to be met and were indicative of a career that had taken off like a comet to the tune of millions of copies sold.

Stephenie admittedly enjoyed the notoriety, but on those days when the obligations of bestselling author became too much, she longed for the days when only a few people knew her name.

"I like being normal," she told the National Post. "I like being ordinary. I like going home and just being mom and having my little circle of friends. I’m not Stephenie Meyer to them. I’m just Steph."

The rocket to stardom that now left Stephenie occasionally longing for the simple life was not a sudden invasion in her life. Well into the writing of New Moon and the earliest stages of Eclipse, Stephenie would say during a 2008 question-and-answer session in a Chicago bookstore, that she was still able to hang on to some semblance of normalcy and routine.

"I would get up, get the kids ready, and send them off to school," she recalled. "If I was being good, I would hit the elliptical machine for a half hour. Then I would flip through TiVo and answer my e-mail. Then I would sit down, slip on my headphones, and write until I heard somebody asking me what we were having for dinner."

For better or worse, as she slipped on some music by Muse and Blue October and tuned herself into editing mode, Stephenie’s world had gotten a lot bigger.

Normally Stephenie wrote at night when her family was long asleep and the chance for distractions was slim. But with the pressures and demands of the publishing world at hand, she had begun this final lap with Breaking Dawn at 6:00 A.M. and, if she was lucky, burned out, or both, would be finishing up around midnight.

Adding to the craziness was the seemingly endless round of media interviews that saw reporters, despite the fact that she had been on every possible outlet on the last tour, from the likes of Entertainment Weekly and USA Today making the pilgrimage to Cave Creek to ask the probing questions, the questions she had heard so many times before, and to find out, in many cases, what happens when a happily married Mormon woman with three children has a dream.

A dream that has turned into a worldwide literary sensation, the likes of which hasn’t caught the world’s collective imagination since a young British single mother named Joanne Rowling scribbled those initial notes about a fantasy world and a young boy with glasses named Harry Potter on a long train ride through the British countryside.

The comparison between Stephenie and J. K. Rowling was one of the first labels to stick. Stephenie was amazed and honored at the comparison but also a bit ambivalent.

"There will never be another J. K. Rowling," Meyer told USA Today long after she had heard the comparison between Rowling and herself too many times to count. "That really puts a lot of pressure on me. I’m just happy being Stephenie Meyer. That’s cool enough for me."

Meyer’s laid-back persona was partially born of an endearing shyness that has followed her from birth. The mild-mannered outsider who was never the life of the party. The consensus from those who knew her pre-Twilight was that she was adjusting fairly well to the mantle of bestselling author and that not much had changed since her days at Brigham Young University. And on the surface, Stephenie does seem to present the demeanor of "good sport" about it all. But the author conceded in a recent Paris Match interview that celebrity takes a bit of getting used to.

"I don’t really know how I’m dealing with celebrity," she offered. "I used to live without being recognized. When I am stopped on the road now, I am always shocked."

Despite the pressure of her newfound celebrity and the increased scrutiny, Meyer remains accommodating and delightfully candid and disarming in a sort of straightforward way that springs full-blown from a highly conservative Mormon upbringing. Her homespun candor, evolved as it has since she began doing press in 2005, has been a quiet breath of fresh air in an often overhyped to the point of overkill pop culture landscape.

Meyer has indicated in many interviews that her modest hopes for the first novel, Twilight, "were to maybe get $10,000 to pay off the family’s minivan." In her wildest dreams, Stephenie Meyer had no idea what the romance of Bella and Edward, a human who falls in chaste love with a vampire, would bring.

Stephenie Meyer appears the unlikeliest of torch-bearers for a brand of what is often dismissed as "chick lit" that has captured the imaginations of young girls and middle-aged women alike. She is as un-vampire oriented as a romantic horror novelist could be.

She has an aversion to horror films and racy literature of any kind. It was only in college and her discovery of satellite radio that she discovered the joys of new music such as Blue October, Muse, Linkin Park, and My Chemical Romance, all of which are constantly plugged into the aural background of her working environment and that have driven her writing spurts over the course of her four romantic vampire novels. But while she has opened up to modern music, Jane Austen and the more genteel side of literature has remained a constant influence and companion.

To this day she is an ardent follower of the Book of Mormon, attends the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and will not work on Sunday in conjunction with her religious beliefs. During the early editing stages of Twilight, an editor suggested that she might do well to add a premarital sex scene to the lyrically romantic but sex-free proceedings. Stephenie said no, most likely more for the integrity of the story, but also, it’s safe to say, a by-product of her own moral upbringing where "good girls" were a natural way of being. There would be no sex scene.

In the best possible way, Stephenie Meyer is a walking contradiction.

So it seemed that the young mother from the Arizona suburb of Cave Creek had most certainly gone over to the dark side when she wrote Twilight, a story ripe with temptation and otherworldly creatures. At least that’s the way Meyer remembered the feedback from the Mormon community.

Stephenie acknowledged in an interview with ABC News Nightline, not long after Breaking Dawn was published, that her books reflect the way she looks at the world . . . which is pretty much black and white. "Not big black or big white, just little tiny checkers of it. There’s always a right and wrong to the situation."

But even with that defense, convincing many was an uphill battle.

"Some Mormons, especially those who know me, are surprised by my choice of topics," she told the Mormon arts and culture Web site at www.motleyvision.org. " ‘Vampires,’ they say, with a critical lilt in their voices. Then they add self-righteously, ‘I don’t read those kinds of books.’ I hasten to explain to them that it’s not like that. I put a lot of my basic beliefs into the stories. Free agency and sacrifice are big themes in what I do. But even after I explain all that, I still have family and friends who look at me funny."

Which is the way that Meyer often looks at herself. As she puts the finishing touches on the book that will bring her total of books in print to twenty-eight million, what’s happening to her is still a mystery that she is only beginning to wrap her psyche around.

"I don’t really see myself as a professional writer," she confessed in a Vogue interview. "I still feel like an amateur."

A lot of people have agreed with that assessment. Many, including the increasingly cranky Stephen King, have dismissed her as a good storyteller, but not a very good writer. Some critics have demeaned her books as plotless, pointless, and populated with characters with no real substance. Some, at the darker end of the critical spectrum, have gotten downright nasty, calling her a housewife with a hobby who had just gotten lucky.

Not that it would be the first time a less-than-stellar writer has found success. The history of popular fiction has often been top-heavy with lesser-quality writers who had managed to captivate an audience. But no matter what one thinks of Stephenie Meyer’s skills as a writer, one thing cannot be denied.

Millions of readers can’t wait for more.

Those around her concede that Stephenie has done a wonderful high-wire act with it all. She has studiously avoided all the trappings and ego of being a bestselling author. Early on she was thrilled when twenty people showed up for a signing at a local bookstore.

"I kind of miss those days," she reflected in a Media-Blvd magazine interview. "Then we would start getting a hundred people and I would freak out and say ‘There’s a hundred people out there!’ Now we’re getting thousands and I just have to suck it up and do my job."

Excerpted from Stephenie Meyer by Marc Shapiro.

Copyright © 2009 by Marc Shapiro.

Published in January 2010 by St. Martin's Griffin.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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