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First time author Stephenie Meyer woke up from a dream one day – and wanted to know what happened next. She went on to write it herself, and now everyone knows. It starts with the movie of her novel, Twilight. And it will continue…..

A Brigham Young University graduate with a degree in English literature, Stephenie Meyer says the idea for Twilight came from a dream. “When I woke up, I wanted to know happened next. That first day I wrote 10 pages. When I finished it, no one was more shocked than me that I had actually finished a book.” As Meyer continued to add volumes to her narrative, producer Greg Mooradian – who had just come across the work - approached Summit Entertainment with the idea of developing the saga into a series of films. Twilight’s novel concept and compelling characters made it an apt candidate.

Mooradian, of Maverick Films, first read Twilight before the young adult novel gained worldwide acclaim—in fact, before it had even been published. “Part of my job as a producer is to scour the world for new material,” says Mooradian. “I read a lot of manuscripts prior to their being published. When this one came across my desk, I just couldn't put it down. The premise of a girl falling in love with a vampire just hit me like a ton of bricks. And the book delivered on every level.”

"a metaphor for teenage lust"

What drew Mooradian to the story was not its exoticism, but rather its universality. “There have been thousands of vampire films made,” he says. “What sets this apart is the love story. Vampirism in this story is simply a metaphor for teenage lust, for that feeling of ‘I want you, but I can't have you.’ I thought that was such a wonderful metaphor to express teenage longing. “It's analogous to any young girl who has the opportunity to date the boy that her parents hope she'll go out with,” Mooradian continues. “But then there's that other boy who's mysterious and dark and brooding, and there's such a desire to unlock the secrets behind who and what he is, which in this case is a vampire. And that revelation happens at a point where she's already too far in to withdraw, no matter what the consequences are.”

Twilight was the first published work by Meyer, who has gone on to create three additional books in the series, with no sign of slowing down. “As a first-time author, I had no idea what normal is,” she says. “I still don't. I had no expectations. I was first approached about the movie before the book had even come out. I didn’t expect to hear anything about it until it was on the shelves, if then.”

Meyer describes herself as a mom first, then a writer, despite her chart-topping sales and prolific output. “For me, writing this book was so personal,” she says. “I was surprised that people responded to it so well. It still amazes me to watch how people get into the characters and how important it is to them. I get e-mails from people who feel like my book has actually changed their lives.”

“The idea of a supernatural fantasy as background for a great tragic love story is a great combination,” says producer Wyck Godfrey. “Add to that a best-selling book series, and fans already connected to the characters, and we have a really good foundation to open it up to a new audience that may have never heard of Twilight. I think that once they see it, they’re going to respond in the same way as the people who have discovered the books.

"it’s cool to be a vampire"

“There’s a huge amount of danger in this movie,” Godfrey continues. “There’s also just the excitement of a teenager doing things that are verboten. These are things that people connect to. And not just girls—I think that guys will discover it’s dangerous, there’s action, there’s a thriller element to it, and then, ultimately, that it’s cool to be a vampire.”

As soon as she read the book, executive producer Karen Rosenfelt says she was immediately intrigued by the “Romeo and Juliet” aspect of the storyline as well as its sustained sexual tension. “I think we all think we’re Bella,” says the former Paramount Pictures production president. “As a character she’s very accessible and identifiable. We all feel outside of the in-group and want to feel we’re marching to the beat of our own
drum.” Meyer was excited about the possibility of seeing her work translated to film, but only as long as the filmmakers remained true to the books. “All of us have seen books ruined as movies, and I had a lot of things that I wanted to protect. My stipulations were pretty basic: You can’t kill anyone who doesn’t die in the book.

“The Cullens have to all exist by their right names and in their right characters. Things like that. I wanted the groundwork to be there.” The filmmakers were sensitive to her concerns and committed to remaining as faithful to the book as possible. “The book is a bible for so many young girls, we needed to tell the story as written, as much as possible,” says Mooradian. “Stephenie loved the script. But at the same time she had some very specific ideas, and we implemented nearly all of them, much to the benefit of the film. For example, we had slightly changed a passage from the book, ‘And so the lion fell in love with the lamb." Stephanie suggested we go back to the way it was, because so many girls had tattooed that line on their ankles. I thought she was joking, but no.”

Published December 11, 2008

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