Stephenie Meyer never dreamed she'd write a best-selling novel that would launch a $2.5 billion-grossing film franchise, and produce one of Hollywood's greatest on- and off-screen love stories.
She just dreamed.
And now, as tales of Edward, Bella and Jacob come to a close in the upcoming release of Breaking Dawn Part 2, we look back at the amazing true history of The Twilight Saga, from its inception to its rise as a global pop culture phenomenon.
A happily married, stay-at-home mother to three sons, Meyer was living a version of the American dream. But like many mothers, she was frustrated by the weight she'd gained during her pregnancies, and like many people, she was unsettled by the march of time. "My 30th birthday was coming up, and I was so not ready to face being 30," Meyer said in the Phoenix New Times. "I didn't feel I had much going for me."
On the night of June 1, 2003, consumed with plans for potty training, swim lessons, and, for herself, a new diet, Meyer went to bed. The next morning, she awoke to Twilight.
"It was this really crazy wonderful dream about a vampire and a human girl," she recalled in an interview for her publisher. The girl was ordinary; the vampire was beautiful; their relationship was in peril. Like a reader caught up in a good book, Meyer was hooked. She began to write.
Meyer worked with a passion, but without a plan. Her dream was her only blueprint. "I knew from the dream I needed someplace rainy. So I went on Google," Meyer said in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Her search, for the rainiest place in the United States, led her to Forks, a small town in Washington state.
There, in the Forks of Meyer's mind (she'd never been to the actual city), the two dream lovers came to life: the girl would be a pale-complected, Jane Austen-loving transplant from Arizona (where Meyer herself grew up, and where she resettled after college) who felt out of sorts—her name, Isabella Swan, or Bella, for short; the vampire would be a breathtaking vision, an eternal 17-year-old—his name, Edward Cullen.
If Bella would be recognizable as any teen girl who ever viewed herself as an outsider, then Edward would be altogether unrecognizable as a pop-culture vampire.
For one thing, Meyer decided, Edward would be a vegetarian, meaning he didn't feast on humans, but rather quenched his thirst for blood by hunting wild animals.
Also, instead of shriveling or dying in the sunlight, Meyer's predator would sparkle in it. He had other unique qualities: superhuman strength; supernatural abilities (Edward, for instance, could read minds); and, perhaps unsurprisingly considering Meyer was in the throes of a diet during their creation, a supreme discipline around breakfast, lunch and every other meal. Edward didn't eat.
Meyer didn't have much choice but to rethink, revise and redo vampire legend: She didn't know vampire legend. The bookworm who read everything didn't read vampire stories, certainly not with any regularity or devotion.
With her new twists on old lore, Meyer wound up writing a personal story—the target audience, she would tell the GateHouse News Service, was "a 29-year-old mother of three"—that the outside world found difficult to resist.
Just six months after Meyer's vampire dream, her completed 100,000-word manuscript, called Forks, was snapped up by the publishing giant Little Brown and Company. A movie deal with MTV Films and Madonna's Maverick Films was sealed even before the retitled Twilight hit bookstores on Oct. 5, 2005.
Everything about Twilight had seemingly come in an instant: Meyer's dream; the book's road to publication; the saga's rise to prominence.
Nothing, however, would come easy for Meyer's lovers, or for the actors chosen to play them.