“Meyer has, like one of her vampires, tuned into something rare and more than merely human…. People do not want to just read Meyer’s books; they want to climb inside them and live there.” – Time Magazine
The perks of a best-selling four-book enterprise may include adoring fans, agents and publicists but intellectual fame also brings with it a whole host of close-quarter subterfuge, especially when it comes to bales of ideas for sequels.
American Stephanie Meyer is best known for her Twilight series of romance novels. Despite mixed opinions about their substance her books have sold over 120 million copies worldwide; The Times remarked that Meyer’s stories, “captured perfectly the teenage feeling of sexual tension and alienation”; Entertainment Weekly called her, “the world’s most popular vampire novelist since Anne Rice”. And for many others The Twilight Saga stands alone as the epitome of young adult fiction.
But back in 2008, Meyer was the victim of theft of a manuscript for “Midnight Sun”, her new novel. The author was in the process of writing a draft and had shared one of the various manuscripts with a close acquaintance. “[It] was illegally distributed on the Internet [but] was given to trusted individuals for a good purpose,” she recalls.
The theft saw Meyer underprepared, hapless and facing a dilemma; either she could let the unauthorised leak filter to her fans, or she could publish the 12 chapters herself lightyears ahead of an edit. She chose the latter with a link on her website to the authorised work, adding a caveat that the work – still essentially a draft – was “messy and flawed”.
Hardly surprisingly, the purloining left her with a dry sense of defeat. It was everywhere – exploited, talked about. For Meyer, the novel now became a fruitless enterprise. Speaking shortly afterwards, she said, “I feel too sad about what has happened to continue working on Midnight Sun.”
There’s a fine line between being enthused to write something and having no interest in it at all; nine years ago Meyer crossed it with Midnight Sun, despite the enlightened concept of the material. The writer’s love of the story was corrupted and the novel, “on hold indefinitely”.
Midnight Sun began life as a windowless literary exercise to enable the author to investigate the Twilight narrative from the perspective of Edward Cullen. “I started to wonder how the first chapter of Twilight would read if it were written from Edward’s perspective,” Meyer explained. But to her surprise the chapters began to flow and yielded erstwhile magic. Soon, buoyed by the process she forged ahead to have it published as a complimentary novel to the saga.
Despite all of her previous misgivings, a post on her website in 2009 confirmed the juices were in full flow. She was upbeat. She admitted how excited she was about working again on Midnight Sun and to fans said with a confiding smile, “Know that the final copy will be infinitely superior”. This stirred many to believe that the disempowered novel on-hold a year ago would soon become a reality.
16 years passed without a word. Then in 2015, inspired by the tenth anniversary of her first book, Meyer launched a new title called, “Life and Death”. In a retelling of “Twilight”, she had changed the genders of Bella and Edward instead of swapping perspectives and had called them Beau and Edythe. But fans were not fooled. This wasn’t Midnight Sun, even though the turnaround would now match. This was its poor relation.
Answering impatient critics, Meyer apologised and explained. She had previously considered Midnight Sun “cursed” and therefore decided to take a different tack to, “fix everything that bothered her” about the story; having completed Life and Death she now felt, “more comfortable” revisiting the original premise.
In fact it all made perfect sense. The theft, the break away, the new novel – all had been transformative and cathartic for the 43-year-old. It was as though her time away and the interim book had somehow expunged the curse.
Two years on, what does this mean for Midnight Sun? Well, it’s alive again! Confirming recently that more chapters had been added to the manuscript Meyer conceded she had, “started back into it [and] it felt really good.” So we can only imagine the much-anticipated companion to the Saga is back on track, and we can’t wait. What feels certain is that, for the next few years at least, anything Stefanie Meyer writes looks set to become a fixed feature of the smash-hit landscape.