Interview: Stephenie Meyer

By Efrosini Costa

After the worldwide success of The Twilight Saga, Stephenie Meyer is bracing herself for another round of fanfare with, the release of the film adaptation of her novel, The Host.

The Host is set in the near future, where the planet has never been more perfect, greed and violence have been eliminated, and everyone practices peace and kindness.  But, as you soon learn in the novel, perfection comes at a price, as an alien race of pure “souls” invades earth, using humans as their hosts.

The screen adaptation of The Host will hit cinemas on March 28, starring Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger and Max Irons (son of Jeremy Irons). We caught up with Meyer to discuss the new film, her writing process, and of course – all things Twilight-related.

How did the idea for The Host come about?

I had the idea when I was  really bored on a road trip, and I got excited about this idea of aliens. I then started writing it whilst editing Eclipse. You have these long periods in between where you can’t really work on your manuscript and you don’t want to work on the sequel, so I had to work on something completely different in my down time.

Twilight had started getting out there and people were liking it, and it was getting a little intimidating for me, because there were so many expectations. So I felt the craving to write in a world that was mine again, and one that no one had expectations about.

It’s described as your first novel for adults; how did that change your writing process?

I really didn’t have to change the writing process at all. I don’t really believe in the line between young adult and adult writing. I don’t think that, because a character in the book is six years old, that that makes it a children’s book. The only difference between The Host and the Twilight Saga is that the characters are a little older and more mature. That said, I didn’t write Twilight for young adults, I wrote the story because it excited me.

Would you ever consider exploring other genres?

Absolutely. I would never consider just sticking with one genre – that would be no fun at all. I’d love to write a real fantasy. At some point, I’m going to do a real fantasy novel where I’m not on planet earth any more.

I mostly don’t do realistic fiction, because I like to have a fantasy element. I’m obsessed with assassin novels, so maybe at some point I could write a super spy novel. I would never say never to any genre, because it’s fun to do something new.

How did you learn the art of storytelling? Who were your inspirations while growing up?

I think I learned it from reading, and then from just telling myself stories my whole life. I always have a lot of characters in my head. I must have read Little Women 40 times by the time I was 12.

I read Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre over and over again, and all of the Jane Austen books. I identify more with the classics actually; I found I had more in common with Anne of Green Gables than I did with the Sweet Valley High twins – but that was more my experience then the modern experience, so I was raised a little bit out of time, I think.

The Host remained in the New York Times’ #1 bestseller list for 26 weeks, and the Twilight Saga’s success is well documented. Why do you think readers take to your stories so much?

If I had the answer to that, I would give it away! I have no idea. For me, I wrote it because it made me happy and it made me excited. It was a fantastic escape from changing diapers and what-not. It was just something I loved and it’s bizarre to me that my very personal thing would appeal to such a broad audience.

Could you describe the process from novel to film? How involved are you in that process?

I don’t think I could write the screenplay myself, because everything is so important, I don’t know where to cut it. I’ve done that with all of them. Andrew Nicol was very insightful into the world. He added things in that I loved so much and I wish I had incorporated them myself. You do have to sacrifice a lot, but the film didn’t sacrifice the heart of the story – the themes are all there. He got it all in, which is fantastic. I was a part of that process and we did share notes, and was I involved with the casting. They didn’t make any moves without me, which I was very grateful for.

Did you have any concerns about translating the parts of the story line that were more difficult to capture visually, like the internal monologues, because done the wrong way, the story would lose its power?

There were a lot of people who were afraid of that, but we weren’t because we thought – it’s a performance thing. All you have to do is have the best actress in the world and you’re set. Because special effects would kill the story, it would be distracting, so I feel we were really justified in our belief because Saiorse it so effortless. When you watch, it takes away all the worries and you see the characters in her face. It’s kind of amazing.

What role (if any) do you play in helping the cast and crew understand the story and the characters better? Are you on set with them?

I was on set pretty much every day, except when I went away to be with my family. I always like to be there at the research stage, because I don’t like to tell the actors what to do. Once the director understands, for me, you’re in safe hands from then. Every now and then – which was very rarely – I would come into the scene and give some guidance. But mostly, they just got it.

What can we expect to see from you next?

Well, as far as movies go, I see it being one passion project at a time. We did the film Austenland – it was a very positive experience. It turned out great, everyone loved it at Sundance and it was such a positive thing. My plan is to just stay home and write, and let my partner deal with a lot of the fieldwork, which is just the compromise work. We’re working on one of my favourite supernatural stories as a kid… that’s the next thing on the plate.

‘The Host, starring Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger and Max Irons, will be released in cinemas on March 28 in Australia & New Zealand.


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