We won’t front: We mostly attended Stephenie Meyer’s New York Comic Con panel in order to navel gaze and talk to fans. But the Twilight author quickly won us over with her wry enthusiasm and her embrace of the fandom culture she’s spawned during the last decade.
Oh, and the next book she’s writing—the one she swears we’ll all hate.
In case you’re not keeping up on the latest news in the young adult world, Meyer (colloquially known as “SMeyer”) dropped a surprise novel this week in honor of the 10th anniversary of her franchise: Love and Death, a genderswapped version of Bella and Edward’s love story.
On Thursday Twilight fans lucky enough to be attending NYCC got to hear Meyer discuss her big surprise. Plus other topics fans have been dying to hear updates on, like what the status is of her truncated book Midnight Sun, which was to have retold Twilight from Edward’s point of view before sections of it leaked online.
“Everyone knows what Twilight is, even if they don’t like it,” 17-year-old Holly told me before the panel. She started reading the novels in fourth grade and has been in the fandom ever since. Twenty-six-year-old Nadia told me she’s changed her views of the series over time since she started reading them a decade ago, but still showed up to the panel today for nostalgia’s sake. And 20-year-old Emily, who started reading the books when she was 10, has continued to cultivate her love of the series by revisiting it since the last installment was published.
It’s easy to see why these fans are still showing up for SMeyer. In today’s panel, Meyer opened up about the impact of her series and its fandom as well as the ways she’s adjusted and learned to cope with her own success. Here are the most awesome tidbits we gleaned about the world of Twilight, the new book, and Meyer herself.
1) She not only endorses fanfiction, she says she would have written it herself.
Far from being bitter over works of fanfiction like the mega-bestselling Fifty Shades of Grey—which famously began its life as a popular Twific—Meyer said she “supports” fanfiction, and went one further, noting that if she’d known about it when she was a child, she would have been eager to write fanfiction for fantasy author Anne McCaffrey and her famous Pern series.
2) The Twilight fandom found out about her new book early—and kept it from leaking.
Meyer noted that attempts to keep the book under wraps weren’t wholly successful because once they shipped to bookstores, fans started to notice and asked questions. But she said that when asked to keep mum, fans banded together to stay quiet out of respect.
3) She doesn’t think her latest novel is “a real book.”
Meyer was emphatic that she doesn’t see the new book as a “real book” due to its experimental state and its closeness to its predecessor. To her “it’s just bonus material.” However, she also noted that she wrote the new genderswapped version of the characters in order to counter criticism that Bella, the heroine of Twilight, was a damsel in distress. She also noted that certain scenes in the new work made her rethink her approach to the old one. Here in fandom, Ms. Meyer, we call that a “transformative work”—even if it’s written by the original author.
4) She and Robert Pattinson argued over Edward Cullen.
Meyer said she was unprepared for Pattinson’s level of investment in her romantic lead. “He was very very passionate,” she said, “and we argued about Edward for several hours because he was convinced that Edward was depressed and suicidal!” Meyer was mystified by his read on the character, but praised his acting ability and commitment to the role.
5) She’s grateful that Twilight led a generation of teens to read even better books.
Meyer said that more than anything she was grateful for the way her fandom had brought friends together and allowed fans to build relationships around her novels. She also said the fact that “go on to all these other amazing books” was deeply gratifying.
Among the other books she praised was The Hunger Games, along with its film adaptations. She also said she had just begun reading young adult author Rainbow Rowell this year, and “I love, love, love her books.”
6) She wishes Alice were a real person because she’d like to hang out with her.
Her characters aren’t based on real people (though the plot of Twilight famously came to her in a real dream). But she did say she wished her popular side character Alice was real because she’d love to have her for a friend. Wouldn’t we all, Steph. Wouldn’t we all.
7) She’s still chipping away at Midnight Sun—but don’t look for it in the near future.
Meyer admitted that she wanted to quit writing the Twilight book that was famously leaked online before she was finished. But after the “therapeutic” experience of writing Love and Death, she told fans she’d felt ready to tackle it again, and went back and added two more paragraphs. Currently there’s a significant portion that fans haven’t seen, so don’t give hope.
8) Surprise! Look for another book in 2016.
At the end of the panel, Meyer dropped the bombshell that she’ll be publishing another book toward the end of next year—and then she promptly proceeded to downplay it. “It’s not fantasy, it’s not YA, and no one will like it but me,” she said.
Hmm. Intriguing lack of details—exactly the kind of thing that makes us want to read it.
Well played, Meyer.
Photo by Aja Romano