Time magazine called her the next J.K. Rowling, but Mormon housewife-turned-bestselling novelist Stephenie Meyer quickly defers, “There’ll never be anything like that again.”
Yes, both were young mothers when they penned the first volume in their respective bestselling fantasy series, but Meyer wasn’t looking to re-create the Harry Potter author’s success when she wrote her first novel, “Twilight,” five years ago.
It literally started with a dream — a particularly juicy one about a centuries-old vampire and the fearless high-school outsider who falls for him. “I was really invested in what was going to happen next, and it just killed me that I wasn’t going to find out,” she remembers. “With my third baby, I was losing all ability to hold anything in my head, so I wrote it down.”
She started where the dream left off, with Chapter 13, then went back and filled in the rest, writing whenever she could find time. “It’s something you just end up sacrificing sleep for,” Meyer says. She kept the project to herself, not even telling her husband. Once the manuscript was complete, she sent it out to publishers.
“It was so easy it’s kind of embarrassing,” Meyer admits. “I feel guilty now, like I didn’t pay my dues.”
In that respect, Meyer owes Rowling a debt of gratitude. After all, Harry Potter changed the conversation about young adult fantasy novels, without which Little Brown might never have offered Meyer the $750,000 three-book deal that enabled her to pursue her new hobby full time.
“Twilight’s” sequels only stoked the phenomenon. Last summer, book three (“Eclipse”) bumped Harry Potter’s big finish off the New York Times bestseller list. The fourth and final installment in Meyer’s vampire saga arrives Friday, with the Catherine Hardwicke-directed bigscreen version of “Twilight” to follow on Dec. 12 from Summit. Now Hollywood is circling Meyer’s alien body-snatcher thriller “The Host,” her first novel for adults.
Meyer’s Mormonism may inform her worldview, but don’t bother searching for C.S. Lewis-style subtext in her work. “People see allegories I didn’t put there all the time and often get them quite wrong,” she says. “I try to write books about plain old humans, and I get really bored.”
Role model: “My writer role model would be Orson Scott Card. His stuff boggles my mind. Personally, I’d have to say my dad. He’s my hero.”
Three things in life I can’t do without: “Gabe, Seth and Eli. Those are my boys. Nothing’s right unless they’re right.”
What I’m reading now: “I’m on a Neil Gaiman kick. I’ve been told for years that I should read his stuff, and now I’m completely and totally addicted.”
Career mantra: “I just try to get through every day as it comes, dealing with things as they happen, not stressing up about everything, just living in the present.”