Sundance 2013 Interview: Stephenie Meyer

The creator of Twilight talks the future of the franchise, adapting The Host to the screen , other books she wrote and producing the new comedy Austenland.

CraveOnline: I wasn’t familiar with Shannon Hale’s work until this movie. Were her novels as challenging to adapt into a screenplay as maybe the Twilight books were for their screenwriters?

Stephenie Meyer: Oh, I really doubt it. This novel was like a script. It’s not long and it’s full of constant movement. Reading it felt like watching a movie and that’s kind of where the original idea came from because it was just so clearly ready to be a movie. It was a really simple thing I think. Jerusha, the director, did the screenplay with Shannon Hale who wrote the novel, so the children just really seemed like they had a really great time bouncing ideas and coming up with all kinds of crazy things.

Did you always want to be a movie producer?

No, I didn’t even want to be a writer. I was not very ambitious about creative things. I was very practical, but I did always love movie adaptations and I’m one of those armchair people who will sit there and be like, “Oh, they totally should have cast that person. What were they thinking with this? Why would that cut that out?” I’m very judgey about book adaptations so I guess I always kind of wanted to be involved in those decisions.

Can you imagine one day someone might write about Twilightland?

Well, what would you do in a Twilightland? Someone asked me about an amusement park. I just don’t think there’s a scope there. Now I would pay good money to go to a place where I could dress up like an Austen character and read books from the beautiful library, but I don’t know what you would do in a Twilightland.

You’d have to go to high school. That wouldn’t be fun!

Oh, it’s a horrible idea. Oh, that would be awful.

How much did producing this take you out of writing?

Oh, I’m very much not someone who can do two things at one time so the Twilight movies, I couldn’t write while working on them. With Austenland, when we were doing the scripting phase, I’d have time in between to work, but when you’re actually filming a movie, that’s a 15-16 hour day. You go home and you sleep.

When you come to Sundance too.

Yes, yes, this isn’t a writer-friendly kind of environment.

Was it rewarding to see shows like “The Vampire Diaries” and “True Blood” be successful after “Twilight”, or how did you feel about them?

Well, on one hand, I thought it was really cool. For example, “Vampire Diaries,” that book was written years and years and years ago and I think it’s cool that people are going back and giving it a chance to discover it because they’ve heard of it because of the TV series and I think that that’s really awesome. In my personal life, there’s a lot of vampire and I hear “vampire” all day long and I get inundated with it, so I’m over vampires personally. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way, but I think it’s really cool for these other, particularly book series, have a chance to be rediscovered.

They call me Franchise Fred because I love my franchises. I never want them to end, even when there’s a final chapter. I want them to always go on and I trust the authors to create more good stories. Why wouldn’t you want to continue them?

I mean, obviously there are more stories there. When I first wrote the end of Breaking Dawn, I was planning on going on for quite a while further and so I didn’t wrap it up. I didn’t kill everybody. I could have. [Laughs] Thought about it later. So there are other stories there, but like I said I am vampired out. So maybe in a couple years, spend some time with some aliens, maybe do my mermaid book finally, and then maybe I’ll be able to get back to it but right now I’m just sick of them.

How different was adapting The Host to the Twilight books?

The Host was a huge challenge because Twilight, you can stop and look at the plot and just say A causes B causes C. It’s fairly straightforward. There are some supernatural things you have to figure out how to film but that’s some special effects person’s job. It’s not the screenwriter’s job. With The Host, it’s a 200,000 word novel. To fit it into two hours is a real challenge and there’s so much we had to cut. So we really had to boil it down to the real essence of the story and also we had the issue of one person who was two characters, and that was something that threw a lot of studios when they were trying to figure out how we were going to sell it, how it was going to come across right. But the director and I and the producer, from the very beginning we thought that was really simple. You just have the best actress in the world, and we’d be fine. Just have an actress that can do it, that can just sell the two characters and we don’t have to worry about it. And so we got the best actress in the world and it worked out exactly right.

Saoirse Ronan is amazing.

She’s so good. I can’t wait to see the rest of her life happen because it’s going to be amazing. You just watch what they can do. I’m very jealous of that talent.

Was there one big change that those filmmakers sold you on that would be better for the movie?

You know, there were little visual things. I don’t know that they had to sell me exactly. When I was writing the novel, to me the world looked very much the same as our world looks. Not that much has changed, but Andrew [Niccol] has subtle shifts and he glossed up the human world and made it a little shinier, and the way the people dress and the cars they drive. He just had this vision for the look and particularly for the Seekers. They have a very distinct look that I hadn’t envisioned. It works beautifully. It just makes the world just that much off kilter. We can tell it’s not our world even though it looks like it. He’s a genius. It was fun to have someone like that coming up with ideas. It’s easy to go, “Yes, yes, absolutely.”

When you’re writing, do you have a writing schedule you follow?

I don’t have a schedule like that. I tend to write best at night and so after the phone stops ringing and the kids are in bed, that’s my best concentration time. Lately, I’ve just had to be getting up so early that that’s a challenge. That’s one of my challenges is trying to get back onto a night schedule.

Has any of this, becoming successful and having a sort of empire, surprise you the responsibilities you have now?

All of it’s been surprising. I don’t really feel like there’s a ton of responsibilities with the Twilightside of things. That feels like a big, heavy backpack I’ve just taken off.

But you have other movies in the works and other books you want to write.

Yeah, and I do sometimes feel pressure, this is going to sound crazy, only other authors get this, but from the characters I haven’t written yet that want to have their day in the sun and they’re just getting shuffled to the back of my head, so I do feel that sometimes.

Read her full interview Here

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