Stephenie Meyer: “Midnight Sun,” tiny type & a YA obsession

Seira Wilson on August 05, 2020

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At long last, the book Twilight fans have been waiting for, Midnight Sun, has released. In this novel we see the events of Twilight from an entirely new perspective: Edward's.  We learn where he goes and what he does in the unseen moments of Twilight’s narrative. Most powerful of all, readers see, through his thoughts and actions, the intensity of Edward’s desire for Bella and how it clashes with his nearly overwhelming need to protect her, even from himself.

There are two sides to every story and we’ve long had Bella’s—now, thanks to Midnight Sun, we can see the whole picture.

Midnight Sun is an editors' pick for both the Best Books of the Month and the best young adult books of August.

Meyer's publisher, Little Brown Young Readers, did a Q&A with her, but we asked a few follow-up questions which are exclusive to the Amazon Book Review. We also looked back at a Q&A we did with Meyer the year Twilight was released and asked her if she still felt the same about a few of those questions, or if she would answer them differently today:

Little Brown Young Readers: Without spoiling anything, is there a scene from Twilight you loved writing from Edward’s perspective that readers will recognize? Or was there one that was hard to wrap your head around at first?

Stephenie Meyer: This is a hard book to spoil, since we know most of what happens from Bella’s perspective. My favorite scenes to write were all the ones where she was missing, though. It was so much easier to write without having to be tied into dialogue and specific actions. I could be freer, and just write what felt right. The chapters where I was locked into a lot of dialogue were the hardest.

It’s difficult to make something so familiar newly interesting. A specific favorite scene of mine is the Cullens race across the Phoenix highways to get to Bella in time. That was a very fast-paced chapter, very exciting to work on. And the meadow scene was incredibly hard. That chapter took literal years to write.

Seira Wilson, Amazon Book Review:  One chapter that took years to write sounds really daunting but obviously wasn’t a chapter you could not write. What made this one so incredibly hard compared to other chapters/scenes, and how did you get through the struggle in the end?

Stephenie Meyer: What made it so hard was the fact that every second of that chapter was pre-scripted by Twilight. There was no moment of respite from the preset lines and actions. I had to find interesting ways to do new things inside of all the restrictions, while still not interrupting too heavily the flow of conversation. If I’d been physically chained to my desk, I probably could have knocked it out in a month. However, I was able to get up and walk away. I did that a lot.

Little Brown Young Readers: Midnight Sun has been about 14 years in the making. What inspired you to return to the story, and to want to publish it now?

Stephenie Meyer: There have been a lot of stops and restarts through this process. Many times, I would get started again, then hit a roadblock and quit to work on something more amicable. One of the big helps came in the form of Life and Death, the gender-swapped version of Twilight I wrote for Twilight’s tenth anniversary. Creating that let me get back to the characters in their purest form, just who they were as people, without any of the baggage from the movies or the fandoms. It made it easier for me to channel all their voices again. When I did finally get to a point when I knew the book would be finished imminently, I worked to get it published as soon as possible. I knew that readers had been waiting for a long time.

Seira Wilson, Amazon Book Review: Midnight Sun is a little over 100 pages longer than Twilight—did you feel like Edward's side of the story needed more space to be fully told in the way that you wanted to, 14 years later?

The reason Midnight Sun is a hundred pages longer than Twilight is because the font is much, much smaller. The word count gives you a better picture: Twilight is around 119,000 words; Midnight Sun is about 240,000. It’s literally twice as long. It was obvious from the beginning that Edward’s version would be quite a bit longer. First of all, Edward never sleeps. Secondly, he’s quite the overthinker. Third, he’s lived a lot longer than Bella and thus has a bunch of flashbacks. The length wasn’t something I decided to do 14 years later; the story always demanded this.

Seira Wilson, Amazon Book Review: Before my time at Amazon, a previous editor did a short Q&A with you for Twilight (it can still be found on the Twilight book page). Have you changed your mind on any of these questions since you first answered them in 2007?

Q: Who is the one person living or dead that you would like to have dinner with?

Stephenie Meyer, 2007: I'd love to have a chance to talk to Orson Scott Card—I have a million questions for him. Mostly things like, "How do you come up with this stuff?!" But, if he wasn't available, I'd settle for Matthew Bellamy (lead singer of Muse).

Stephenie Meyer, 2020: I’d love to get to sit down with Jane Austen, L.M. Montgomery, and Louisa May Alcott. These women shaped my childhood. I know they had a much harder road to travel as female writers than I did, and I’d like to thank them for persevering.

Q: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Stephenie Meyer, 2007: I'd want something offensive, rather than defensive. Like shooting fireballs from my hands. That way, you're really open to going either way—hero or villain. I like to have choices.

Stephenie Meyer, 2020: I still stand by this answer.

Q: What other young adult authors do you read?

Stephenie Meyer, 2007: My favorite young adult author is L.M. Montgomery I also enjoy J.K. Rowling (but who doesn't?), and Ann Brashares. As a teen, I skipped straight to adult books (lots of sci-fi and Jane Austen), so I'm rediscovering the world of teen literature now.

Stephenie Meyer, 2020: For the last few years I’ve been obsessed with Laini Taylor. She is my absolute favorite YA writer, and if you haven’t read her Strange the Dreamer books, do yourself an enormous favor and get on that. I also really enjoyed Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince series. The next book on my to-read list is Deathless Divide, the sequel to Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation, which was fabulous. I have high hopes.

Q: If you could write your own epitaph, what would it say?

Stephenie Meyer, 2007: I'd like it to say that I really tried at the important things. I was never perfect at any of them, but I honestly tried to be a great mom, a loving wife, a good daughter, and a true friend. Under that, I'd want a list of my favorite Simpsons quotes.

Stephenie Meyer, 2020: I’m good with this answer, too.

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