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"Stephenie Meyer answers a Host of questions"

2008
Via SheKnows Entertainment
By Joel D Amos

"Stephenie Meyer (named after her father Stephen, thus the ‘phen’ in her moniker) was a little-known author when she quietly released a young adult fiction book entitled "Twilight" back in 2005.

Millions of copies later, “Twilight” produced a trilogy, with “New Moon” and “Eclipse” following. “Twilight” lands in movie theaters in December -- not soon enough for the book's passionate legion of fans who have been desperately waiting for the story of Edward and Bella to come to life.

On May 13, Meyer released her latest book, the decidedly different and equally compelling "The Host." This gripping novel is a departure for Meyer, yet her prose still exhibits an unmatched lightning bolt of imagination. As the plot races towards the finish line -- and as she has in her “Twilight” series -- Meyer leaves readers guessing until the final page is turned.

“The Host” is from an author who is quickly becoming the most prolific and imaginative fiction mind since another writer who explored vampire culture arrived on the scene: Stephen King. Although Meyer's books have struck a chord with young adult readers as opposed to King’s macabre storytelling geared towards adults, Meyer possesses King’s unrelenting mastery of the thriller. Meyer spoke with SheKnows about “The Host,” the writing process and the surreal nature of witnessing your imagination manifest through actors in a massive Hollywood set.

The Host speaks SheKnows: I would think that this whole year for you will be truly special, with "The Host" out this month, then the fourth “Twilight” book in the series in August ["Breaking Dawn"] and finally the film in December.

Stephenie Meyer: Overwhelming!

SheKnows: A few days have passed since “The Host” debuted -- how do you feel now that it has been released?

Stephenie Meyer: There have been a lot of really good things that have happened in the last week. Whenever I have a book come out, I tend to get really nervous (laughs). You just don’t know. You might love it, but someone else might hate it. So far everything for “The Host” has been really positive and really good news with the bestseller’s lists. It’s very encouraging and gratifying to have people accept it and be so excited about it.

SheKnows: Is that the same way for you with each book? Was it especially different for this book, because it’s a departure from the “Twilight” series?

Stephenie Meyer: It was a little different -- to a certain extent -- because I knew I was doing something that was in many ways,so completely different from what my fans are about. They’re in love with one specific set of characters. On the other hand, this is very similar in my writing style. It sounds like me (laughs). I have the same focus and I am just hoping people would give it a chance. So, to hear how much people like it has been a little different. With the “Twilight” books, it was funny -- I was really nervous about “New Moon.”

SheKnows: Really, after the success of the first, you had a built in audience?

Stephenie Meyer: I knew people were going to read it. I also knew people were going to be upset with me (laughs). With “Eclipse” I thought, "Everybody’s going to be cool" -- and then when I had people that were upset by different things, I was surprised. I just never know how the reaction is going to be.

SheKnows: As you sat down to write “The Host,” was it just you pen and paper so to speak, or was there something different about the road you were about to take?

Stephenie Meyer: It was still just me. The nice thing about when I was writing “The Host,” I knew this was something I needed to work on because I couldn’t work on (‘Twilight’) book four. I was having a hard time being away from the writing because the editing is a very different process. You don’t get the same creative outlet from it at all. While those books were already written, I needed something. So, “The Host” is just for me. I didn’t think about audience. I was just having fun again writing.

A 'Host' of emotions SheKnows: One thing that struck me immediately is the presence of human emotions in “The Host.” It is something that is always part of your writing, but what aspect of emotion struck you so much you drive the story with it in “The Host?”

Stephenie Meyer: I’m not exactly sure. I knew the middle of the story before I started writing. Then I did the end and plotted everything out. I knew how central to the story it was going to be, sort of a growing understanding of what it means to be human. It seemed to me that if you hadn’t been human before, that would be something that would catch you off guard. Emotions, no matter how rational you know something, emotions could make you do something that is absolutely wrong. They’re so much stronger than logic. I thought that would be something that would be surprising to a more logical creature.

SheKnows: They’re so unpredictable -- it had to be an explosive story element as a creator.

Stephenie Meyer: It’s really amazing to step back and think, 'What would I find surprising about humans?’ I’ve been human my whole life and kind of take it for granted (laughs). So, it was an interesting exploration. I had a good time in the story and that is my measure -- if I have a good time, I’m happy.

SheKnows: Did you set out to write a story for a slightly older audience?

Stephenie Meyer: Oh, no. I don’t think about that kind of thing at all. Actually I don’t make that call. I send the story to my agent. She got this and said ‘I think this might be more adult.’ Whatever…the whole genre line is a pet peeve of mine anyway. I don’t like that there are books in the YA section that people ignore and think that are for children -- they are some of the most amazing books in the world of literature. In the last year, the books that have changed my life have been YA novels. Sherman Alexie’s “(Absolutely) True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.” Everyone should read that book -- not just kids. It’s a pet peeve, like I said. SheKnows: For you to create for an audience that -- I know you said you write regardless of audience -- but the fact that young people,  in the last 30 years or so, have not been big readers. Does it move you?

Stephenie Meyer: Yeah, it’s immensely… I don’t even know… it’s so big. I don’t know what to say when a parent comes up to me and says, 'My daughter was not reading, and now she is.' Books were my whole life. That was my most favorite thing in the whole world. The fact I can open that door up for somebody -- if even for one person -- is amazing. To hear that over and over again is kind of crazy.

When I was writing “Twilight,” it wasn’t on my mind at all. I really didn’t think of it. All my books have been the same with the creative process, such a joy. I don’t need much beyond that, so this is extra icing. For people to be excited about my books, it really is the icing.

SheKnows: I’ve spoken to many mothers who share the books and are diving into “The Host” together with their children. That's another rarity from the last 30 years that, as a mother, must resonate with you on another level.

Stephenie Meyer: That’s the other really cool thing about all of this. My dad and I -- through high school, that’s how we communicated. We shared books. He knew what I was reading. I knew what he was reading. That was what we would talk about. That was what kept us close, through the difficult years where parents are the bad guys. I love that. I’ve had three generations, grandma, mom and daughter -- all reading together. (laughs) It’s really cool.

'Twilight' time SheKnows: As "Twilight" is being put on the screen, I know you said you wrote “The Host” just for yourself, but in many ways, it does also lend itself to the screen.

Stephenie Meyer: We’re looking into that. We’re just starting, the phone’s ringing. I guess I need to discuss it. Visually, I think the caves are going to be awesome set. And the desert stuff, there are some awesome visual moments.

But the real problem is how on earth do you do Melanie/Wanderer? What -- voice-overs, do you have her talk to herself? They have the same voice. I think first you need an Oscar-level actress, secondly (laughs), you need someone with a really good idea of how to portray that visually.

SheKnows: Is it surreal for you that something so embedded in your imagination is now going to be on the screen for audiences to see?

Stephenie Meyer: Oh, yeah. I think the most surreal moment I had when I was on the set and it was a cafeteria scene. So there were literally 250 extras -- there were so many people. A giant room full of people, and all of them were there putting something together that I wrote in a quiet moment of life. It was just…wow.

SheKnows: Did you have any say in the casting?

Stephenie Meyer: A little bit. Actually, one of the nice things about working with a smaller company [Summit Entertainment], in my limited experience, is that they are much more open creatively. They are able to be flexible. That has allowed them to slot me in -- even though they weren’t obligated to -- and I have a little say over script. I read it, made suggestions, and they took most of them. I have felt that I’ve had a chance to make it a little bit better and that they appreciate my input. It has been an ideal experience -- one that you’re told you’re not going to have. That is nice (laughs).

SheKnows: Well, that’s why I asked, many authors haven’t had that.

Stephenie Meyer: Well, the movie doesn’t come out until December -- we’ll see, but everything I’ve seen indicates it. The actors are so talented, I was surprised how good they are -- and the director is a genius. It seems they really want to make the fans happy, and I’m really looking forward to December. I think it’s going to be cool. "