Stephenie Meyer is an author and film producer who is most famous for writing the series of novels we know today as “Twilight.” These novels have taken readers around the world into a journey of fantasy and everlasting love, and have driven millions of its fans crazy with the love triangle of Edward Cullen, Jacob Black, and Bella Swan. Since its first release, the Twilight Series has garnered international recognition and has sold more than a hundred million copies worldwide—the books have had 37 various language translations, showing just how famous it has become.
Due to the success of her books, Stephenie has gained numerous awards and recognitions that have established her as one of the most successful writers of our century. She became the bestselling author in America for two consecutive years, has been included in the TIME Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People, and became a part of the Celebrity 100 list of the World’s Most Powerful Celebrities by Forbes Magazine.
Along with the success of her writings also came a number of criticisms, including one which says that Stephenie is anti-feminist because of the way she portrays women in her novels. In spite of these criticisms, Stephenie firmly asserts that she is a feminist, and that she promotes the equality of men and women just as much. In an interview, Stephenie says:
“I think there are many feminists who would say that I am not a feminist. But, to me ... I love women, I have a lot of girlfriends, I admire them, they make so much more sense to me than men, and I feel like the world is a better place when women are in charge. So that kind of by default makes me a feminist. I love working in a female world.”
What is so fascinating about Stephenie’s works is the way she portrays love in her stories. For Stephenie, true love involves having to sacrifice everything you have for the benefit of the person you love. This is why her novels are so magical—they take us through a journey of sacrifice and passion—all to prove that in the end, love wins. When Stephenie was interviewed regarding her methods of making novels and her view of love, she simply said:
“What I think says true love is different than what a lot of other people do, so it's just what my subconscious puts out there. To me, true love is that you would hurt yourself before you would hurt your partner, you would do anything to make them happy, even at your own expense, there's nothing selfish about true love. It's not about what you want. It's about what makes them happy.”
Stephenie’s portrayal of vampires in her movies have earned her both praise and criticism because of the radical method she introduces them into her stories—they sparkle in the sun, cast reflections in mirrors and are not killed by stakes or garlic. This is because for Stephenie, of all of the creatures in the horror genre, people have an unusual fixation on vampires compared to the rest. Stephenie herself admits that she is not into horror stories, and so made a way to portray the lighter side of what people think about vampires. Stephenie says in an interview:
“We've got vampires who are often beautiful and eternally youthful and rich and cultured and they live in castles. There are so many things that are ideals in our culture that we want that they have... In general, my vampires don’t have fangs and they don’t need them. They're fairly indestructible. Wooden stakes and garlic are not going to get you anywhere. They don’t sleep at all. And the sunlight doesn't harm them, it just shows them for what they are because they sparkle in the sun.”
Stephenie Meyer was born in December 1973 to parents Stephen and Candy Morgan in Hartford, Connecticut. According to an interview with Stephenie, her name was a ‘gift’ from her father Stephen, who included the letters ‘i’ and ‘e’ to form her name. Stephenie is the second of six children—the others being Seth, Emily, Jacob, Paul and Heidi. Although fairly well to do, the number of her family members meant that Stephenie had to take on the duties of being an elderly sibling, which she joyfully obliged to do. When Stephenie was around four years old, her family moved to Phoenix, Arizona.
Because Stephen and Candy were both members of the Church of the Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they instilled heavy moral values on their children, including Stephenie. At a very young age, Stephenie and her siblings were always reminded of the values of loving and caring for one another, and were strictly taught to never drink alcohol or smoke, something that Stephenie would carry for the rest of her life.
Being born into a large household definitely became an advantage for Stephenie because it was through her family members that she got accustomed to experiencing different personalities. These experiences later on developed her ability to write, being able to incorporate different people into her stories and basing their personalities on her family members. In an interview made with her many years later, Stephenie said:
“I am the second of six children. I think that coming from such a large family has given me a lot of insight into different personality types—my siblings sometimes crop up as characters in my stories. I have a husband and three young sons who all are slightly bewildered with my sudden career shift from mommy to writer.”
Stephenie’s Passion for Books
At a very young age, Stephenie was fond of reading books. She was particularly interested in novels, and in time came to love the classics of Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen and Margaret Mitchell. Like what experts say—reading causes one to become bright—Stephenie grew up to become very intelligent, so much so that during her high school years in Chaparral High School she impressed her teachers and was among the top students of her class. When she graduated in 1992, Stephenie received a National Merit Scholarship due to her outstanding marks, which she used to in Brigham Young University and take up English Literature. A remarkable student, Stephenie graduated from Brigham Young and earned her bachelor’s degree in 1997.
In 1994, while Stephenie was transitioning from being a junior into a senior at Brigham Young University, she got re-acquainted with Christian “Pancho” Meyer, a friend she had known since she first arrived in Arizona. Because they both grew up in the same social circles, Stephenie and Christian had a lot in common, and easily became attracted to one another. Soon after they met again, the couple started dating and in less than a year, got married (both Stephenie and Christian were twenty one years old at that time). Stephenie bore Christian three children: Gabe (who was born around the time Stephenie graduated from the university), Seth and Eli.
From the time she had her first child, Stephenie fell in love with her role as a mother. In fact, she almost lost interest in becoming a writer (which she thought little in the first place, due to thinking that she did not have what it takes to become a successful writer) due to the challenges and the difficulties she faced in raising her children. And although life was not particularly easy for the couple and their children, Stephenie loved her children to the core, and gave her entire time, effort and attention into making sure that they grow up to become successful. Stephenie said in an interview regarding her motherhood:
“Being a mother, which is about the most full-time job you could have. And I had three little boys and there was no time to do something else, but I was obsessed with it from the first day. Once I had Gabe, I just wanted to be his mom.”
The Unforgettable Dream: Inspiration behind Her Books
Or so she thought. In the morning of June 3, 2003, Stephenie woke up from a dream about a human girl and a vampire male who fell in love with each other, in spite of the vampire thirsting for the girl’s blood. Normally, Stephenie would immediately forget anything she dreams about—but not this one. For some reason, the dream drew Stephenie so much that she wanted to write every detail of it. Sitting in front of her computer, Stephenie completed a ten-page draft of what would become the thirteenth chapter of her first book, “Twilight.” She said of this moment in an interview:
“Once I'd written everything that I'd dreamed, I was eager to know more about what would happen to these intriguing characters. So I kept typing, letting the story go where it wanted to go. It's a miracle that the book makes any sense! I had no organization whatsoever.”
It did not stop there. Stephenie was so attracted to the story that she continued writing for the next three months to transform her dream into a full-fledged novel, often working while her children were asleep. Upon the novel’s completion (which Stephenie originally called “Forks,” named after the town in Washington where the story is set), Stephenie showed it to her sister, who encouraged her to have it published in spite of Stephenie’s initial plans to simply keep it as she wrote the story for her own entertainment. In an interview, Stephenie said:
“I didn't think about publishing at all until it was entirely done—I was just telling myself a story. Writing just for the sake of writing, just for my own pleasure, was certainly the greatest highlight of the whole experience. My older sister (the only person who knew what I was up to) encouraged me to try to find a publisher.”
Following her sister’s advice, Stephenie got in touch with several publishing companies to try and have her novel published. She sent fifteen letters to various publishing companies—five of them went unanswered while nine of them were rejected. Although close to giving up, Stephenie continued to hope for the best, and eventually the last letter returned with a promising deal from Jodi Reamer, an officer for Writers House. Years later, during an interview with Stephenie, she recalled her early attempts to get her book published:
“I started process of queries and literary agents that I almost gave up before I started. But I did work up enough nerve to send out about fifteen queries. I only got one bite, but it was from the "dream on, Stephenie" agency at the top of my list. Writers House signed me in October of 2003, and then within two weeks I had nine editors interested in Twilight.”
From that moment on, it was all upward for Stephenie. Once Writers House got involved with her book, nine publishers began competing for the rights to publish Twilight. In November of 2003, Stephenie signed a 750,000 dollar book deal with Little, Brown and Company, the largest down payment any writer has ever received.
Twilight and Other Books by Stephenie Meyer
Twilight was released in 2005 with an initial print run of 75,000 copies. Within a month of its release, the book immediately came at the number five spot of the New York Times Best Seller list for Children’s Chapter Books, surprising Stephenie greatly as she did not know the kind of effect that her book would have on its readers. Along with amazing positive feedback, Twilight rose to number one and became an international bestseller, being sold to over twenty six countries worldwide.
The release of her book Twilight not only showed the world Stephenie’s writing prowess but also bridged the gap between teen and adult fiction through the themes of sexuality and sensuality in the story.
Twilight was not only fascinating for its fans but for Stephenie as well, who decided to follow up the story and create an entire world for the series. Three more books followed, each of which were all best sellers as well—New Moon (released in 2006), Eclipse (released in 2007) and Breaking Dawn (released in 2008). The books not only garnered awards for having sold hundreds of millions of copies, but also for Stephenie’s outstanding writing talents.
From The Books to the Big Screen
Two years after the release of Twilight, people from Summit Entertainment (a very well-known film production company) approached Stephenie to acquire the rights to turn her novels into a film. After a period of negotiations, Stephenie sold them the rights and in April 2007 Twilight was released as a theatrical film. The movie, which starred Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner as the lead roles of Bella Swan, Edward Cullen and Jacob Black respectively, became both a financial and critical success, proving that Stephenie’s story making prowess was not just for the books but for the big screen as well.
The Twilight movie’s success was followed by on screen adaptations of its sequels—New Moon was released in 2008, Eclipse was released in 2009, and Breaking Dawn was released in two parts: one in 2011 and another in 2012. All of the movies earned big at the box office, with critics celebrating not just the acting, but also the story itself. These, among all other successes resulted in Stephenie being called as the “World’s Most Popular Vampire Novelist” since Anne Rice (author of the famous literary series “The Vampire Chronicles”) by Entertainment Weekly.
Wayne Janes, a well-known writer of the newspaper Toronto Sun, said of the Twilight novels:
“In the absence of a new Harry Potter adventure, teens, fantasy enthusiasts and women who swoon at the idea of a virginal James Dean-ish vampire made Meyer the go-to gal for chaste love.”
The Host: A New Series
In 2008, Stephenie finished and released her book “The Host,” which tells of a story of a human girl and a body-invading alien who are compelled to work as one to survive. Upon its release, The Host debuted at the top spot of the New York Times Best Seller list, and retained its ranking for the next twenty six weeks. Like the Twilight series, The Host was also adapted into the big screen in 2013, yet with relatively lesser views compared to its predecessor.
Today, Stephenie continues to do what she loves to do—to take care of her children and to write. She is currently working on the sequel to The Host, and intends to do a trilogy for the series. And while she is still combatted by negative criticisms from people who do not like the way she writes, Stephenie continues moving forward, never allowing the negative words to weigh her down and draw her away from what fulfills her.
Stephanie’s story is an amazing inspiration not just for aspiring writers, but for everyone else. Each of us has a talent that has yet to be discovered—all we need is to be at the right place at the right time, and when we find ourselves there, like Stephenie, all we have to do is to step out of our comfort zone and take the risk, even if the odds seem too impossible to conquer. When she was asked for advice on those who aspired to write, Stephanie said:
“If you love to write, then write. Don't let your goal be having a novel published, let your goal be enjoying your stories. However, if you finish your story and you want to share it, be brave about it. Don't doubt your story's appeal. If you are a good reader, and you know what is interesting, and your story is interesting to you, then trust in that.”
Organizations and Programmes Supported
- Stand Up 2 Cancer
Awards and Achievements
- 2008: Included in the 100 Most Influential People in 2008 by TIME Magazine
- 2008: Named as the Bestselling Author in America
- 2008: Named Author of the Year by USA Today
- 2008: Included in the list of the Valley’s Most Fascinating People by The Arizona Republic
- 2009: Included in the list of the World’s Most Powerful Celebrities by Forbes Celebrity 100
- 2009: Named as the Bestselling Author in America
- 2009: Included in the Top 100 Information Age Powers by Vanity Fair
- 2010: Included in the list of the World’s Most Powerful Celebrities by Forbes Celebrity 100
Wikipedia (Stephenie Meyer)
Biography (Stephenie Meyer)
About.com (Interview with 'Twilight' Author Stephenie Meyer)
The Guardian (Stephenie Meyer on Twilight, feminism and true love)