30 August, 2008

I Heart Stephenie Meyer

Well, the beloved author of the Twilight Saga has had a rough few weeks. Most of it was probably ups with the book release, concerts, and adoring fans, but some has been harsh reviews which, as I know from experience, you can easily say that it doesn't bother you, but you still take every word and every mark with a red pen to heart. And then, to top off the busy, draining weeks she's probably had, somehow a draft version of the first twelve chapters of Midnight Sun was leaked onto the internet. While this is a gross invasion of her rights as an author, and upsetting that whoever was trusted with this manuscript somehow allowed it to pass to less-trusting hands, I think the most horrifying thing, as an author, is to know that something unfinished is now associated with your writing.

For me, writing is such a long process. Nothing is completed in one sitting. Even my blog entries go through three or four drafts before I post them, and they're still riddled with typos and grammatical errors. Not to mention they ramble a bit, and my thoughts are never quite as clear as they could, or perhaps should be. My supervisors over the years have thrown me terrified looks when I hand them a first draft, because I bet they resemble the writing of a fifth grader, and not of a PhD student. That's just how my process works. I get my ideas onto paper in the most basic, simple way, and then I hash, rehash, cut apart, and hash some more until it starts to resemble something a little more academic. I continue this process right up until the deadline, and I usually wish I could continue the editing long after it has gone to a publisher or turned in for marking. That's just how I work.

So I can't imagine the frustration, and the sense of helplessness that Meyer may be feeling right now. I shudder to think about being graded or reviewed on a work that I never once even considered close to complete. To have that stand as a part of the body of your work, but never have had the right to decide if it was something that you wanted to share yet or not. Ugh...

You all know how I feel about spoilers, and haters, and anyone whose sole purpose it is to destroy someone else's joy, peace or contentment... this is just one more case where someone as giving to her fans as Meyer has become the victim.

I'll get off my soap box again... I don't mean to keep climbing back up there, but like so many things on this blog, it's how I process some thoughts.

To show my support, here's the banner created by a number of the Twilight fan sites to show their support, and I'm reposting it here with their permission. All the best Stephenie, and I hope you don't let a few joy-squashers dampen the joy that the stories and writing has always given you.

15 August, 2008

Breaking Dawn Release Events in NYC Part 2

The line outside of the Nokia theater was incredible. Dustin and I walked around the perimeter of the building just taking in all of the fans, t-shirts and full-on costumes. I think my favorite was the Team Cullen baseball team, or the girl dressed as a bride- veil and all. The excitement was palpable. It kept building, and every now and again would break into shrieks and chants (i.e. the video… there’s nothing like 2,000 people chanting “TWILIGHT! TWILIGHT!”). At one point I was chatting with Dustin about something or other and I heard shrieking, and started looking around for the source (perhaps a cameo appearance by an actor? A sighting of Stephenie’s car? How did I know?), and Dustin just says to me, “It’s just your normal shrieking honey, I think it’s the anthem of the weekend...” And that was very true. It was like a kettle boiling over every ten minutes or so.

Anyway… we met back up with the Lexicon gang and Bailey from the panel, and only had about half an hour to wait before the doors opened and we were allowed in.

I think I now know what it’s like to be a part of the running of the bulls in Pamplona. There were dozens of security staff around screaming “Don’t run!” but those voices didn’t work so well against 2,000 enthusiastic mostly-teen girls. Once inside I wandered the main floor for a short while, just to get a feel for the energy and see what the crowd was like. Then I bought my tour t-shirt (gotta have souvenirs…) and went to sit up in the seats above the main floor. I’m so glad that I did that. It was great to see the crowd react throughout the show, not to mention to be able to sit comfortably after a long day. The theater was spacious, but still very intimate. I never felt like I was far away; I could hear and see everything I wanted to and there were monitors all over the place providing ample close-up views of Justin’s fingers or Stephenie’s grimacing face as she contemplated how to answer a question without revealing any spoilers from Breaking Dawn.

As 7:00pm neared, the audience was at its breaking point. Finally, the lights went down, and one by one, spotlights came up on each of the massive banners hanging on stage- a spotlight on Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and, finally, the Breaking Dawn banner, to which the audience erupted. I could slowly feel myself turning into a shrieking groupie. As soon as Justin Furstenfeld came out with his guitar, I just gave into the hype and rode it throughout the rest of the evening, shrieking with the rest whenever anything remotely exciting happened, and hanging on every word from Stephenie Meyer and every note from Justin Furstenfeld.

I was thrilled that Justin was wonderful. I hate it when you build up a band or musician in your mind, memorize every lyric and let the music affect your daily life, and then when you see them live they just fall flat. Justin Furstenfeld did NOT disappoint. He was wonderful. Every note was on, the emotion streamed from his fingers and vocal chords like tortured honey, and he seemed truly pleased and honored to be there in front of the manic crowd. I think he did four songs, and then as he left, Kim Stolz of MTV reappeared to introduce Stephenie Meyer. Take a look at that video and I don’t think you’ll need anymore analysis of what that moment was like.

I loved the questions that Meyer chose (over 1800 questions were submitted to mtv.com and Meyer chose the ones that she wanted to answer). There were many new ones, which sparked new information and discussion. I found her to be very down to earth, honest, and unchanged from the first interview I ever saw of her. She seemed to be truly in love with her fans, and very relatable to them. I imagine this has only helped her popularity as she seems like your own big sister or the cool mom down the street. She realizes the phenomenon that she has created, but instead of getting a big head like one would expect an author to get, she just seems excited that so many people want to share her obsessions with her; she swoons as much as the next person when the name “Edward” is mentioned and says that she still has moments where she just needs to go back to the books to visit her friends. That sounded very familiar to me!

My favorite part was after the interview, when Justin returned to the stage and played a few of the songs that influenced Stephenie. They both sat on the couches on stage, and it felt like a laid-back jam session in someone’s garage, and 2,000 people just happened to be invited. They both appeared to be enamored with the other, even giggling from time to time. Stephenie shared that she went to a Blue October concert after hearing “Overweight” on the radio, a song that she has described as a “Jacob” song because of lines like ‘ever had to carry the weight of another, for how long’ and ‘I owned up, I’ve grown up, do you remember me? I showed up and so what if I’m the used to be?,’, and after that experience she met with Justin to hear a few more songs and chat with him about the Breaking Dawn tour. While there, he played a few unrecorded songs for her and after listening to one, “My Never,” she was shocked, because there was a page in Breaking Dawn that fit perfectly with that song. When reading the book on Saturday, I’m almost certain that I found that page... at least I think I did… I’d like to know if it’s really the page she mentioned; it’s eerie how perfectly the song fits the book and vice versa. There seems to be an indescribable bond between Meyer and the musicians that influence her. “Hate Me” is the most-often referred to song, as it embodies Edward’s anger at himself, wishing that Bella could just hate him and move on with her life, but “Into the Ocean” and “Congratulations” are two more for me that I think are just eerily related to the Twilight series. There’s that line in “Into the Ocean” about the ocean being 14 miles away (the same distance as La Push from Forks), and “I thought about your face, relaxed and floated into space” which is basically exactly what Bella does at the end of New Moon; she thinks of Edward's face and drifts…until a certain werewolf saves her.

Anywho… this interview/breaking into song bit of the evening was lovely. It was great to hear about the creative processes for both Meyer and Furstenfeld, seeing what inspires them and how they work (they both agreed that the majority of their brilliancy always seems to come in the middle of the night and they can’t sleep until they purge their brains of whatever storyline or song is running through it). The crowd was entranced, hanging off of every word (and yet still managing to shriek whenever Edward, Jacob, The Meadow, Rob Pattinson, or anything else remotely swoon-worthy was mentioned). I really enjoyed the ease of the conversation, and the smooth transitions of their talk into Justin’s songs. The acoustic version of “Sound of Heaven Pulling Down” nearly brought me to tears, and I certainly can’t get enough of “My Never” and “Hate Me.” I wish I had the whole evening to live over again now that I have my favorite parts organized in my brain.

I was very sorry to see it start to wind down, but the release was just a few short hours away at this point, and Stephenie had 2,000 bookplates to sign. The crowd was NUTS at the signing part. I truly understood the term “bottleneck” as an entire auditorium tried to squeeze through one set of doors to file quickly by Stephenie before being shuttled out the door. I tried to think of something brilliant to say to her as I went by, but that was a lost cause. I’m sure that part of the evening was a giant blur to her anyway, so I was just immensely grateful that she was willing and excited to sit there for however many hours she had to sit there, undertake whatever hand cramps came her way, and be close to the fans. It was very refreshing.

Dustin and I somehow floated towards the Borders by Penn Station, pushing through our over-stimulated minds’ exhaustion and riding our post-concert high. After getting recognized on the street (very odd; a girl that had been at the panel recognized me and wanted to ask me a bunch of questions about my days on the Twilight set), we walked into Borders, through the throngs of fans, most of whom were dressed as vampires or werewolves. Inside was organized madness. We picked up our bracelets that allocated us to a group to pick up our books (we were in the ‘A’ group), and did a tour of the building to see what was going on. There was a make up booth giving people purple rings around their eyes and alabaster-pale skin, a fortune-telling booth called ‘Ask Alice,’ a trivia contest organized by the Lexicon staff, and upstairs by the cafĂ© the Twilight trailer and clips from the film were being shown to a crowd of avid fans. Around 11:30 we went to the ‘A’ section of the store to get in line for our books. We were about fifty people back in line. Again, the excitement started building. Every few minutes a member of the Border’s staff would get on a megaphone and scream how many minutes from midnight we were, and the crowds would erupt with cheers and hoots. My phone rang about six times from friends that I got to read the series and were at release parties of their own (my one friend’s mom was working at the local Borders for the release event and Meghan said she came home with vampire bites on her neck… I told her that wasn’t accurate for Stephenie Meyer’s vampires, but I was glad for the excitement and participation of her mother).

Finally the countdown began, and once THREE….TWO….ONE was shouted by the masses, the books were officially on sale. I was also very impressed by the staff there. The scanning and bagging of the books was a well-choreographed dance. The line moved quickly, and we grabbed our books and ran out of the store- when I got the seventh Harry Potter I had a bad experience of people flipping to the back and reading the last page out loud… NOT COOL. I am sooo not a fan of spoilers or people whose intent is to spoil, so we didn’t hang around once we had Breaking Dawn in our hands. We walked home, read for about two hours, passed out (it had been a very, very long day, and I wanted to be able to give my full attention to Breaking Dawn), woke up around 9am and just read all day. We ate in, I didn’t answer my phone or divert my eyes for any longer than it took to pour milk in my tea. Such a brilliant day.

I do hope to analyze Twilight a bit academically in the future, but that is a massive undertaking, so don’t hold your breath for my analysis! Right now I’m just trying to sort out this article, a Twilight academic panel for TwiCon 2009, and oh yeah… move out of Boston, repack my stuff in Pennsylvania, and get ready to go back to Wales in early September. Eeep!

It was a brilliant, brilliant weekend, and I’m so glad that I was able to be a part of it. Of course I’m looking forward to every opportunity that comes my way, and hope that I’ll be able to grab onto each of them. We still have the film versions of the remaining three books (no, I don’t know anything about their production status, sorry!), and Midnight Sun to look forward to.


My webshots album

And here are a bunch of videos... you may have to deal with me singing along to the songs in some of them... sorry!

Twilight Chanting

Kim Stolz asking who's excited... and the crowd erupts!

Stephenie Meyer enters

My Never

Sound of Heaven Pulling Down (love this acoustic version)

And for some reason 'Hate Me' won't load... dang.

06 August, 2008

Breaking Dawn Release Events in NYC Part 1

This may have to be a two-parter, it was such a ridiculous day! So I'm now home from a crazy weekend in NYC, surrounded by Twilight fans, hype and excitement; I participated in the Borders panel on Friday, went to the concert release, had my bookplate signed by Stephenie Meyer, and went to the midnight party at the Borders in Penn Plaza. I've finished the book, twice, I've processed what I saw, and now it's time to put it down on digital paper!

It began Thursday morning, way too early, when I drove down to New York with Jen from the Twilight Lexicon. I had met her and a few of the other Lexicon staff my first day on the set of Twilight in Oregon. Armed with Dunkin' Donuts coffee, we headed south and grilled each other with Twilight-related trivia, and played 'guess that character' with many of the Twilight playlist songs (Stephenie Meyer has dubbed many songs 'Jacob songs' or 'Bella songs' etc., so it was fun to guess whose was whose). Thanks to our trusty GPS device we made it to the city without much trouble. We had to jet into the city quickly on Thursday afternoon to check out the space at Borders (we were staying in Jersey, so we took the ferry over, and this silver Volvo and black Mercedes were parked next to each other in the lot... coincidence? I think not...).

I don't think I had really thought about the mayhem that this weekend was going to contain until I got to the top of the escalators by Borders in Columbus Circle. The first thing I saw as I rolled up the moving staircase was a WALL of Twilight books. And then we walked inside and there were not one, not two, but FIVE displays of Twilight books, calendars, a giant blow-up of the Entertainment Weekly cover, and 'Twilight Delight' chocolate by Ghiradelli. The nerves began to set in...

The space was great, and Daryl, the manager and organizer of all of these Borders events, met us and showed us around the site. He was very excited and appreciative; such a nice guy. He also informed us that the Borders executives were really excited about all of this too... and were planning on coming to the panel the following day.... Gulp! The president of Borders... that's fiiine.

We attempted to crash at a reasonable hour that night, but we didn't succeed too well. So still slightly groggy, Jen and I went back into the city the following morning to meet up with the other panelists for a chat; to put faces to names, and go over the agenda for the discussion. They were all brilliant; so nice, excited, laid back and fun. There was Kallie, Kassie, Linsay, Marisa, Denise and Becca (the organizer) from Twilight Series Theories, Jen from the Twilight Lexicon, Bailey (nomoremarbles) who has a wicked popular YouTube following, and Lisa from The Twilight Moms. It was probably the most knowledgeable, dare I say, obsessive gang you could find. It made for wonderful discussion. It kind of felt like an AA meeting for Twilight fans!

There were about 100 people there, many wearing 'Team Jacob' or 'I'm betting on Alice' shirts, as well as a group of 7 girls that dubbed themselves 'Team Cullen' each sporting a shirt bearing the name and favorite quote of a Cullen character. The 'Alice' of that group even got to participate in the trivia contest, and she was the lucky winner of the autographed poster (it was pretty sweet; signed by Stephenie Meyer, Cathering Hardwicke, Kristen Stewart, Rob Pattinson... everyone!). Many theories were discussed including Mike Newton crashing the wedding, Charlie finding out about the vampires, and something terrible happening to Edward (this theory resulted in many shocked gasps followed by boo-ing). The trivia contests were great, and my favorite was a 12 year old girl wearing a 'Team Edward' shirt who knew the answer, without hesitation, to "What movie did Bella, Mike and Jacob go see?" (the answer is Crosshairs... I don't think any of the panelists even knew the answer to that! We were very impressed).

I joined the discussion for the film bit and really enjoyed that conversation. I certainly wished it could have gone on longer though. I'd love to know everyone's expectations, concerns, what they're excited about, and to discuss some of the actors as their characters a bit more. More than half of the panel had been on set, and quite a few of us had met with the actors, so I'm sure that would have been a brilliant conversation. Something tells me there will be more to come though as the movie premiere approaches. MTV arrived about halfway through the panel, they filmed a bunch of stuff, and Kim Stolz of MTV News joined the panel. I was very impressed with her. She's obviously a fan of the novels, as she had clear opinions about certain things (she hates Mike Newton, she supports Team Edward etc), and that greatly assisted her already strong interviewing skills. She was eloquent, witty, and very quick to come up with interesting questions and clever responses to other statements. She joined the panel at this point to discuss the changing fandom and share her experiences with Twilight.

I found this topic really interesting. The whole idea of the fandom, and how they relate, react and interact with the novels. The population of the fandom has grown exponentially over the last few months, and it's probably only going to increase as the books and the film get more attention. Because of this, I think the production and creative teams in the adaptation of Twilight were brilliant in their decision to include Stephenie Meyer in every step of the adaptation, invite fans on-set, and keep up a good relationship with them instead of turning their backs on this huge, influential, and rather harsh crowd just to make a movie as they see it without regard to their audience. It just strikes me as irresponsible and not a smart business move to ignore this huge population that can assist the publicity of your film, happily, and at no cost to the production company. I'm really glad that the creators, who are fans themselves, respect the fans and the power of approval that they have, and the impact that can have on a film's success.

Anyway, back to the panel... We wrapped it up, gave away the last of the door prizes, and wished everyone well for the rest of their Breaking Dawn day. We hung around Borders for a bit after that, as MTV wanted to interview us (eeee! When did I ever think I'd utter that phrase??), and I got to chat to a few people about my experiences and their thoughts on the series.

If you're interested, the MTV interview is here,

the accompanying article is here,

and there are two things on itunes about it as well. If you search for the Twilight Series Theories podcast, the panel is there (August 4),

and another is this video about Kim's Breaking Dawn release day (that one has my name in it... I totally squealed.... ) Silly... silly is the best word to describe this weekend...

I really like the Borders coverage of the day, it's a great sum-up video... and kind of reminds me of those cheesy video montages shown on the last day of high school. It has the same schmaltzy sentiment that I give into every time!

My friend Dustin had shown up just before the panel (and he willingly became my photographer and press agent :-p), and we were absolutely beat. We wandered outside a bit and decided to meander to the Museum of Modern Art as a friend of mine works there, and we thought a little peace and quiet would be nice before the concert. I think I looked at about three rooms before my eyelids started to droop... so I left Dustin and fell asleep for about 20 minutes on a bench. Oh I'm so classy... well sometimes you just have to do what you have to do to get through the day! And I'm sure the MOMA doesn't mind as I've been a patron for awhile.

So refreshed and revitalized, we made our way to the Nokia theater for the concert release event.... and yes, that has to be the end of part one!

Webshots of Part One

I'm working on an article about the Twilight phenomenon and the mixing of medias (book, film, concert etc), I leave tomorrow for a wedding that I'm in on Saturday, and Sunday I go up to New Hampshire to work at a camp that I've been going to since I was seven. It's a busy little week!! I'll try to have the details of the concert and midnight release party up by Friday :)

04 August, 2008

NYC Breaking Dawn Events

Talk about craziness.... this weekend was something else! I'll have a full report, tons of pictures, videos...everything soon! It was SO much fun. The panel, the concert, meeting Stephenie Meyer, the Border's book release party, and, of course, reading the book all day Saturday... but I wanted to post these few things about the events. There's a bunch of stuff at www.twilightlexiconblog.com as well as www.twilightseriestheories.com

Nuts! Okay, major discussion coming. The book was incredible, and the events on Friday leading up to its release unmatched. I've never seen anything like this in a release, so I'm excited to analyze parts of it academically and break it down a bit. A book release, with a concert, with a panel discussion, with an interview, with film clips played... incredible inter-medium discussions going on in my brain; I'm excited to flesh them out a bit! I'll probably be doing it in two shifts. The first up through the panel discussion, and the second about the concert and the book release party.