Stephenie Meyer Life & Death Tumblr Q&A

Posted December 8, 2015 by Stacey in Blog, Uncategorized / 0 Comments

Stephenie Meyer answered fan questions about writing and Love & Death on TheNovl Tumblr page (Little Brown’s Teen program). It’s been a bit since the interview, and we thought you all would enjoy being able to read them again and have one place to reefer back to. So here you go, the Sephenie Meyer Q&A for Life and Death. (and if you want more Twilight fun, you can always visit thetwilightsaga.com)

Why did you choose “Edythe” as fem!Edward’s name, rather than the more conventional (and much more common for 1900) “Edith” or “Editha”?
SM:  As I began with the renaming process, I committed to keeping the first letter of every name the same, mostly to keep the swap from being too confusing. With Beau, I was looking for a “B” name that had a common nickname and longer, more formal version that the character could dislike.  One of my younger brothers had a childhood friend nicknamed Beau, and I always liked the name’s vibe.  I searched the internet for different long version options, and decided that Beaufort was perfect.  Obviously, Beau was going to resist his full name if it was Beaufort.  It’s not as mainstream as Isabella/Bella, but it suited him.  

With Edythe, I followed the same process I did in naming Edward.  I looked for a name that was out of style—if someone mentioned a person with this name, you would assume the person was in his or her late eighties.  Currently, vintage names are in vogue, so a lot of grandmother names feel young again.  “Edith” still felt dated, more than most of the other options, but it took me a while to warm up to it.  It just wasn’t pretty enough for my gorgeous vampire girl. It was when I stumbled across the “Edythe” version that it started to work for me. (In the course of writing the book, Edith/Edythe has become a favorite name and I can’t remember exactly why I didn’t find it pretty at first.)

What if Bella and Edward met with Edythe and Beau?
SM: I imagine they’d all get along pretty well after they worked out the kinks.  Edward and Edythe might start out castigating each other for being so reckless with the humans—lots of projected self-loathing.  Bella and Beau would roll their eyes. Bella would never say it out loud, but she might wonder what Edythe saw in that totally normal human boy, and Beau likewise.

Hi Stephenie! I am incredibly intrigued by this new version! Thank you so much for writing this. My question is: Who was the hardest character to do the gender switch on? And why? Xxx
SM: Thank you!  Once I got started, it was pretty easy to make the shift.  Bonnie was a little difficult, mostly because Charlie wasn’t changing.  It made the dynamic between them different, and I definitely felt some stirrings of possible future romance by the end, which I hadn’t intended. Carine was absolutely the hardest to name, and I called her Carlyle (just tweaking the spelling) until everyone else involved (editor, agent, partner, mom) demanded that I chose a new name so readers wouldn’t be confused.  (I still think of her as Carlyle, though.)
One thing you have been discussing in other interviews is how Beau developed a slightly different personality than Bella. I was was wondering if you would say Edythe developed slightly different too? As a reader, I got the vibe that Edyth had a harder time convincing herself NOT to go after the baddies from the Port Angeles scene. I was wondering if that scene felt different because of Edythe’s personality or for editing purposes? PS. You’re awesome sauce. 🙂
SM: Thanks 🙂  Edythe is very similar to Edward in temperament, but—good catch—she is just a tiny bit less patient.  Many of the little changes are things I would have done if I had just been editing Twilight ten years later, without the swap. For example, I should have had Edward say the correct answer before Mr. Banner had actually spoken the question. It’s cooler that way.  There are lots of little moments like that.  But in Port Angeles, I think Edythe is slightly less restrained about her desire to murder bad people because Beau is never really afraid of her the way he should be. She pushes a little more to try to get him to see what she’s capable of.
Why is Edythe significantly awesomer than Edward?
SM: To quote Movie Jessica: I know, right?  I feel a little guilty for loving Edythe so much.  She’s a rock star.  I love Edward, but he doesn’t have the exact same edge, does he? I’m not sure why this is.  Is it because Edythe is a girl, so I more naturally put myself in her shoes?  Now I’m the deadly, mysterious one? Or is it because of some indefinable Edythe-ness that came out of the ether and remains impossible to explain? I do not have the answer.
Hey Steph! I wish I could meet you someday! ☺ So, in what occasion will the Cullens find out that Beau is a shield? Is he also shielded against Mele? And what if Aro finds “Mel”? — a young boy this time. Are the Cullens protected because of Bella?
SM: I can imagine a few scenarios in which the Cullens would discover Beau’s talent. Maybe it would be when they have a reunion with the Denali clan.  Being so strong at first, Beau would probably be a little cocky.  He might want to see what Kirill’s electricity thing felt like. Or maybe Sulpicia would hear through the grapevine about the Cullens’ new addition, and request a visit.  It wouldn’t be the same fraught encounter that Bella’s first trip to Volterra was, and there would have been more time to talk through the implications of Beau’s mental silence with the experts.

I think that Aro did eventually find “Mel” (long after Didyme’s death) and, after thinking carefully through the implications of Mel’s gift for a century or so, had him quietly destroyed.  Aro wouldn’t like the thought of himself being replaceable. 
It seems that Beau had a much easier life than Bella, he has to go through faking his death but doesn’t have to deal with nearly as much as Bella. Was that intentional to completely change the story so Beau’s couldn’t follow what happens in New Moon and on or is their more to his story?
SM: As I said in the afterword, I think Bella got the better version of the story.  Yes, she endured so much more physical and emotional pain, but in the end she gets to keep her human family.  Worth it, in my opinion.  Edward, also, did many things he regretted, but he can at least console himself that Bella got to make her choices and shape her future into what she wanted.  Edythe will always have doubts about the way Beau was forced into his vampire life, no matter how content he may seem.

I changed the ending of the book because I always wondered how it would feel if the story had ended with Twilight. Now I know. Obviously, Beau has an indefinite number of years ahead of him, no doubt full of adventures, but I feel satisfied with what I’ve already written.  I’m happy to leave those adventures to the imaginations of the readers.
Is Rosalie’s vampire origin story still going to be steeped in heavily gendered trauma and revenge now that she’s a man in the new book? Please say yes.
SM: Not in exactly the same way, but there is definitely still revenge.  As Royal explains while Beau is transforming, he was beaten (nearly) to death by the secret boyfriend of his erstwhile fiancée, and that boyfriend’s mafia colleagues.  The feeling of betrayal is still there, perhaps even stronger.  Royce King was loathsome, but he did have feelings for Rosalie—desire, at the very least.  Rowena King was ice cold as she watched Royal die; she was entertained by the spectacle.  As she laughed, he realized that she had never felt anything for him at all, except perhaps scorn and amusement that he was so easily duped. When he came for his revenge, he didn’t come in a tuxedo. He came carrying the broken body of her lover.
Stephenie, does a male version of Leah exist in the Life and Death world? Will he eventually turn into a werewolf? Will he have the same relationship with the wolf pack as Leah? Thank you!
SM: Ooh, fun question!  The answer is yes, absolutely.  The Clearwaters still exist.  The shape-changer bloodline runs through both Holly and Saul Clearwater to their two children, Leland (Lee) and Sarah.  Just like in the Twilight universe, Holly is in on the secret, and after Samantha Uley changes, she knows eventually that her daughter Sarah will join the pack.  But she’s never dreamed that Lee could change, and the shock of that occurrence triggers her fatal heart attack.

Lee is every bit as horrified to join the pack as Leah was.  He, too, had his heart broken by Sam.  He, too, doesn’t want to have Sam’s love for Elliott—his former best friend—always there in his head.  He, too, feels ostracized by the pack for his gender.  He, too, is pretty harsh in his thoughts toward the pack.
Hey Stephenie! Could you explain the inspiration between the Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea epigraph, and Beau’s love for the book?
SM: Ha ha, this is kind of a funny answer.  Because we did this project so quickly, there wasn’t time to get an approval for any modern quotes (I initially thought of using lyrics).  So I was limited to public domain novels and songs.  I had to scan through options pretty quickly, and I wasn’t finding much. Knowing that I had to narrow it down if I was ever going to find anything, I decided to go with Beau’s favorite book, which is—not coincidently—my son Gabe’s favorite book.  Once I had decided that Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea was the source, it was easy to find the option that fit.  I like that it’s also a little clue.  Unlike Bella, Beau does find his destiny by the end of the first book.

With changing genders of the two main characters in life and death were you worried that the storyline might change to the point where people wouldn’t be able to see the similarities between that and twilight? love both books by the way

SM: I was not worried that Life and Death would become too different from Twilight for the story to be recognizable.  It was obvious from the beginning of the project that my hypothesis was correct: switching the genders did very little to the plot.  
If you had kept the same ending from Twilight for Life and Death, how would Renesmee ‘fit’ in this new take? Would it be possible for Edythe to carry a child?
SM: Even if Life and Death had ended the same way that Twilight did, the storyline would have had to take a sharp left when it hit Breaking Dawn.  Edythe is not able to get pregnant, so all the post-honeymoon drama would vanish; Renesmee could not exist in this alternate version.  Which means Ivan (Irena) would have had nothing to report back to the Volturi, and the entire second half of the novel would have been pretty uneventful.  Maybe they would have gone to Dartmouth after all. Let the college hijinks ensue!
Stephenie, in a hypothetical world where we’d get a Life and Death movie, who would you cast as Beau and Edythe (and the rest of the Cullens, if you feel like, of course!)? Can be any dead or alive actors, pun fully intended!
SM: While I am an avid book character fantasy cast creator, the drawbacks of saying “This is who I see as ___________” when you are the author are worrisome.  I don’t like interfering too much with what the reader sees when s/he reads. (I know I did precisely this about eight years ago, when I posted my fantasy cast for Twilight before there was a movie.  At the time, I didn’t think anyone would read the book anyway, and I hadn’t given the idea of altering a reader’s personal mental picture any consideration.)  There is nothing like having your own personal mental hero/heroine. This is one of the reasons that I love fan art so much.  I love seeing what you see when you read the story.  In fact, I’m planning to put up a gallery of Life and Death character fan art on my website.  Shameless plug: if you can draw, please send me something. You can find more details on my website. I want to see your Beau and Edythe (and all the others—someone draw Archie, please)!

All that being said, do I have a fantasy cast?  Of course I do.  And I’ll tell you what it is, just promise me that you won’t read the next paragraph unless you already have a solid image in your head of all the Life and Death characters.  Promise? Okay.  I’m going to hold you to that.

Thank you for letting me pick actors that are not alive, because my only Carine is Grace Kelly, from the Rear Window era.  All the rest of my actors are alive, but few of them are the right age.  I will give you context.  For Beau, I would cast 2013-ish (post-Perks) Logan Lerman. Edythe is harder, because she’s a perfect vampire, but my favorite choice is Emma Stone around the time of Easy A; she’s adorable.  For Jules, I chose an actress I’ve never seen in action, just based on looks—Amber Midthunder.  Archie is Nicholas Hoult, right after he finished filming Fury Road and his head was still shaved; there’s a picture floating around the internet—he’s wearing an off-white jacket, sitting on a brick wall—that’s perfect, but I can’t find a source for it. I like Tavi Gevinson for Jessamine.  The closest I could find for Eleanor was circa-2011 Gina Carano. I think last year’s Liam Hemsworth is probably the best option for Royal.  My favorite Earnest is Tom Hiddleston, 2010-ish. And then the baddies: Joss—Tatiana Maslany, Victor—Brian Balzerini, and Lauren— Léa Seydoux.
Would you consider making any of the other books into a gender swapped form like you did for twilight?
SM: No.  I did enjoy the experiment more than expected, but it was also very successful in answering the questions I had.  I don’t feel like I need to do more.
What’s your favourite and least favourite thing about (writing) Life & Death?
SM: My favorite thing during the process was probably getting to fix the little problems in Twilight that have bothered me for the last ten years; it was like scratching an itch.  And then my least favorite thing was calling the story finished and turning it over to be printed, knowing that I’ll find another million tiny changes I will never be able to make.
Hi, Steph! Does Bella also like Monty Python or is that just a Beau thing?
SM: Bella is also a big fan.  This was mentioned briefly in my Midnight Sun manuscript, which is where I pulled it from for Beau.

As I can remember you saw all of those Twilight fiction in your dream but how did you decide the characters’ physical appearances? And did you express your opinions on choosing the actors or actresses who will play which role, if yes, how did you do that? And finally, would you ever think that Twilight will be such a legend? (Excuse my grammar mistakes please) Thanks for your attention.
SM: When I was writing Twilight, the character’s physical descriptions came to me very easily, though I’d only seen Edward and Bella in the dream.  It just seemed inevitable that Edward had a tiny, vision-seeing sister with short, dark hair, and a burly big brother whose hair was also dark, but curly.  It was the same with all the others.  As I thought of Edward’s family, I knew kind of instinctively how big it was and what everyone had to look like.  Jacob developed later, but once I realized the need for him, he appeared fully formed like the others.  I guess if I had to really think about the look for any of the characters, it was probably the ancillary human students.  They felt more generic at first, and I had to spend time with them to make them into individuals.

I did not have a say in which actors played the characters in Twilight, but the cast turned out just fine, I think.  People seem to like them okay 😉

And finally, no, I had no idea that Twilight would be so popular.  Ten years later, that still weirds me out.
Stephenie Hello, first I would like to tell you, I’m a big fan of yours, and I admire you so much, love the way you write 💕. I wonder, what was your inspiration for writing the book “The Host”? Where did the idea of creating this book WONDERFUL. I confess, I too love this book. Steph a big kiss. Its Brazilian fan and future writer, Geovana Caroline.
SM: Thank you, and good luck in your writing career!  I got the inspiration for The Host while I was driving from Phoenix to Salt Lake City to visit my sister.  Highways through the American Southwest are long and frequently monotonous, so I was telling stories inside my head (as I often do) to alleviate the boredom.  I found myself in the middle of this idea about a science fiction love triangle with only two bodies, without really knowing how I’d got there.  But I loved the feel of the story and I started working out where it would go.  Once I have a solid idea of an interesting character or two, the story usually grows quite easily.
Was there any one minor character or couple (not Bella, Edward, Jacob) in Twilight that surprised you by how popular they became in the fandom? And thank you so much for writing these books! I love them still and I’ve met so many amazing people because I love them and found friends online who love them too!
SM: Actually, no.  Maybe it’s egotistical, but I’m so interested in the characters that it doesn’t surprise me when other people are into more than just the main three.  This sounds like a contradiction of what I said before about being surprised by the popularity of the books, but I’m looking at it more on a case-by-case basis.  Yes, I’m shocked so many people like Twilight, but if you do like Twilight, how could you not be into Alice and Jasper? Or Esme and Carlisle? Or even the tumultuous ups and downs of Mike’s and Jessica’s volatile relationship?  I care about them all, so when someone enjoys my little world, I’m happy that they get excited about more than just Bella and Edward.

Also, thanks for the compliments, and I, too, have made some life-long friends through Twilight.  That was an unexpected bonus.
If you could have changed one thing about the way the original Twilight series ended, if any, what would it be?
SM: I wouldn’t change anything in the plot (the writing, obviously, I’m always open to polishing some more).  I wrote the story the way it made the most sense to me, and I’m happy with it.
Hey Stephenie, what made you decide that Emmett and Rosalie should be together? I like them both a lot, but they just seem like such polar opposites, and I was wondering if you have something else to say about it. Thanks!
SM: Sometimes the clichés are true, and opposites do attract.  But Rosalie and Emmett do actually have a lot in common, aside from the difference in their general outlooks on life.  They’re both very physical people, rather than being more cerebral or introspective.  They both would much rather do something active about a problem rather than sit around and think about it.  They’re both a little Machiavellian—they don’t care how they get there, as long as they get there.  And they both worship Rosalie’s beauty, ha ha.  In many ways, Rosalie is the pessimistic version of Emmett.
Is there any genre that you would like to write about someday? 
SM: Yes, I plan to visit both conspiracy thriller and high fantasy in the next few years.
I some day want to be a bestselling novelist. I have been writing all my life since elementary school and want to continue for the rest of my life. Any advice? I love you Stephanie, thanks.
SM: If you love writing, and you’re doing it, you’re most of the way there to being a published novelist.  (Note that I say “published” and not “bestselling.”  I have no idea what makes a bestselling novel.  I’m always reading bestsellers I don’t like and obscure books no one has ever heard of that I love, so my feelings on a book are no indicator of monetary success. Focus on getting published, the rest is out of your hands). I always tell people, just write. Worry about the rest later.  Finish a story that you love, that you want to read over and over again, that makes you want to know the rest of the characters’ lives and what happens to their grandchildren. Once you have that finished story, then you’ve reached the time to start worrying about next steps.  Find a few trustworthy readers and listen carefully to their feedback. Make revisions.  Then look for an agent—a good place to start is by looking at the acknowledgements page at the end of a book in the same genre.  Find more than one that you think could be a good fit, and then send each of them a query letter. My agent suggests also sending the first few chapters (so make sure those chapters are as perfect as you can make them).  (If a prospective agent claims s/he is interested in your story, but needs money from you to begin, s/he is probably not legitimate.  A standard working agreement with an agent would be that s/he would get fifteen percent of the money you make off the work.) Once you have an agent, they’ll do the rest of the work in finding your story a home and guiding you through the process.  Agents are great (Hi, Jodi)!
How long does it take you to write a book? How fast do you write (per hour)? And do you use a thesaurus?
SM: Every book and every writer is different.  Some people spend years on a book, some write them in months.  I’ve done both.  Some stories just flow easier than others.  When I’m really on, I can write more than twenty pages in a day (this is a rare thing).  When I’m off, I’m lucky to get one sentence in an hour.  On average, though, when I’m fully engaged in writing, I would say I do about 5-10 pages in a day.  Being fully engaged is the tricky part—life is full of distractions.  I do use a thesaurus, mostly just to remember words, rather than finding better words than the one I’ve already chosen.  I have the worst memory glitches: I know the word exists, I can define it, often I can even tell you the letter in begins with—I just can’t pull it up in my brain.  For example, I few answers ago I used the very common word “cliché.”  I knew the word I wanted was out there, I knew it could be defined in the realm of a stereotype or an adage, and I knew it started with a “c.”  But I had to look it up on the online thesaurus.  There’s probably a name for what’s wrong with my brain, but I don’t know it yet.
You wrote Twilight in just three months one summer – do you think you’d ever be able to write a complete novel that quickly again? Or was it a once in a lifetime bit of magic? What did it feel like to dive so deeply into your work and accomplish so much in such a short amount of time?
SM: I don’t think I’ll ever be able to write so quickly again. It was a unique set of circumstances.  For one, I was isolated then, pretty much talking to no one but toddlers for ninety-five percent of my day. So I was lonely, and craving adult conversation. (Now I have to talk to adults all the time and, introvert that I am, I miss the solitude.) Also, once I’d begun, I was riding the rush of writing for the first time.  It was an incredible feeling, and I threw myself into it headlong without looking at the consequences to my body.  Rather like a drug user overdosing, in a way.  It’s not the kind of thing you can sustain for very long.  Now I have to work to be more balanced, make sleep a priority, leave the house now and then, etc.  It did feel truly amazing, though.
Do you spend days brainstorming for ideas for new books or do they just ‘come to you’?
SM: Coming up with stories has never been my problem.  There are always about twenty-five novels whirling around in my head at any given time.  The challenge is finding the time to put them down on paper.  I get ideas from everything—road trips, people in line at the grocery story, dreams, patterns in the clouds…  The way my mind works, once the kernel of the story is there, it just sort of follows the pathway to the natural outcome without me consciously deciding to do so.
Did you listen to Muse while writing ‘Life and Death’ like you did for ‘Twilight’? they’re great inspiration! thank you for making me like reading books and thank for another amazing story 🙂 <3
SM: Thank you!  As I listed in the afterword, I was mostly listening to three albums on repeat during the Life and Death process: Royal Blood by Royal Blood, Seeds by TV on the Radio, and 2.0 by Big Data.
Hi Stephenie! What are you reading now and do you have any favorite YA titles?
SM: Hi!  Right now I’m not reading, I’m editing, which is a lot less fun.  But I can’t confuse the story in my head with someone else’s story, so no books, sigh.  The last thing I read that I really, really loved was Far, Far Away by Tom McNeal. Other recent loves: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling, Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox, and Shadows by Robin Mckinley.  My most recent re-read was World War Z by Max Brooks and next on my docket (when I’m allowed to have fun again) is The Martian by Andy Weir (better late than never, right?).
Stacey

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