Twilight conquers the world, but is Meyer done?
While I was fixated on Miami Book Fair International last week (it’s over?! awwww…), Stephanie Meyer was evidently taking over the planet, like preternaturally youthful Mormon Godzilla. Dan Brown? Small potatoes. Stephen King? A lightweight. Harry Potter? A piker.
In England, jolly old, the land that invented snobbery, literary and otherwise, Meyer’s chaste vampire saga, Twilight, has now become the fastest selling series in the history of Waterstone’s, a big British bookstore chain, reports the London Telegraph.
Twilight and its three sequels (New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn), needed only two and a-half years to sell a million copies at Waterstone’s, eclipsing the earlier record held by Harry Potter and his creator, J.K. Rowling.
“This is by far the fastest climb to a million sales I’ve ever seen,” said Sarah Clarke, Waterstone’s buying manager for children’s books. “Twilight was only published in March 2007 and it has taken off in a remarkably short time.”
News of Twilight’s U.K. triumph comes at a highly convenient moment for the Stephanie Meyers freight train. The author made a much-hyped appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show last Friday (I had to content myself with a mere Nobel Prize-winner, Orhan Pamuk, at the book fair).
What’s more, this coming Friday sees the wide release of New Moon, the second movie adaptation featuring Robert Pattinson as the moody but noble vampire Edward Cullen, and Kristen Stewart as his mortal teen soul mate, Bella Swan.
Not all is joy in Twilightville, however. Meyer, who famously wrote the first book as a non-drinking, non-smoking Mormon housewife with three kids and no previous literary experience, told Oprah she was “a little bit burnt out” on vampires, and plans to stick with the aliens from her first adult novel, The Host, at least for now.
Asked directly if there would be fifth book in the Twilight series, Meyer said, “I can’t answer it,” according to MTV.com.
“I might do something completely different — I’ve got to cleanse the palette,” she said. “I might come back to it. I did envision it as a longer series, but I wrapped up Breaking Dawn in a way that I felt satisfied with.”
I’m not the first to wonder if Meyer might still be smarting from the illegal Internet release of the first 12 chapters of Midnight Sun, the story of Twilight, when Edward and Bella met, retold from Edward’s point of view. Once the unfinished book was available to the world, Meyer abandoned it, saying she didn’t feel like it was hers any longer.
Meyer handled the situation with dignity. She explained her hurt, and the damage to her creativity, in a lengthy essay on her website. Then, in an astounding gesture of generosity to her loyal fans, she made the twelve chapters available for free. You can google it by title, or find a link at the end of Meyer’s essay.
I yield to no one when it comes to literary snobbery, so I have not read any of the Twilight books (vampire lovers who don’t have sex? What’s the point?). But curiosity regarding Midnight Sun got the better of me, and I have to say, after reading the first few pages, I can begin to to see why Meyer’s books are so popular.
Great writing? No, but not incompetent, either. The key point, though, is that even for a disinterested browser far out of the intended age demographic, I found myself with an almost instantaneous itch to know what happens next. That itch, by the way, is the popular writer’s best friend.
So while I’ll likely never read Twilight or its sequels (c’mon! There’s a new 1,000-page Stephen King on my nightstand!), I do hope Meyer will return to Midnight Sun. It’s a clever idea, and it will make millions upon millions of teenaged girls happier than a new pony.