The first thing you notice is that Stephenie Meyer answers her own phone. Next is the fact that the "Twilight" author — who has sold millions of books, knocked "Harry Potter" off the best-seller list, and has Hollywood adapting her vampires-in-high-school novels into movies — possesses the sort of genuinely sweet, modest personality that makes you want to root for her success.
And Meyer's fans have done exactly that for the 34-year-old stay-at-home mom, who has transformed herself into America's J.K. Rowling. On May 6, the enormous line you'll see at your local Barnes & Noble will be the result of "The Host," a sci-fi novel that began inspiring fan sites six months ago.
Emerging from her busy schedule for a rare chat, the affable author spoke exclusively to MTV News about stepping outside her safety zone, the controversy over her movie cameo, and her dream of snatching Charlize Theron's body.
MTV: Give us a synopsis, if you could, of "The Host."
Stephenie Meyer: Well, one of my pet peeves is doing a synopsis, because I work best in long explanations — and after writing a 600-page book, it's kind of hard. But basically, the easiest way for people to get it in a nutshell is that it's "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," if the aliens had won. That gives you a sense of the horror, but these body snatchers are so kind and so good, and the world is such a good place when they're in charge, it makes it hard to hold their colonizing against them. Then there's the main [story] — that people don't give up even after [their bodies] have been given away as a host — and there are two entities with one body to share between them.
MTV: Your name is Stephenie Meyer, and your main character's name is Melanie Stryder. Should we be reading something into that?
Meyer: No, that wasn't on purpose. With names, for human characters that aren't 100 years old, I tend to look for people around me. Melanie is one of my cousins, and Stryder is actually someone I knew in high school.
MTV: Are the "Twilight" names people you know?
Meyer: Some of them. Jacob [Black], I didn't name him after my brother, but I do have a brother named Jacob, and then my other siblings were touchy about that. So all my siblings' names got in there. ... A couple of ex-boyfriends also have their last or first names tucked in there.
MTV: Your fans know about how "Twilight" started with a dream you had in 2003. Did you dream "The Host" as well?
Meyer: No. I wish I had a better story for how I came up with it, because I don't. ... I was on this really horrible, boring drive from Phoenix to Salt Lake City, just desert and ugliness, and my kids were in the back watching a movie. I was completely on my own and bored out of my mind. I tend to tell myself stories in those situations, and I just caught myself in the middle of this idea about two people sharing a body, both in love with the same guy.
MTV: Do you plan on writing "Host" sequels?
Meyer: I hope. If I were to continue on with "The Host," which is a possibility, there are characters and stories that could continue. ... If I went ahead with that, it would be two more. ... Next would be "The Soul," and then "The Seeker."
MTV: Now, I have to apologize if I did, in fact, spoil news on your cameo in the "Twilight" movie.
Meyer: You didn't, no, not at all. It's funny, I didn't really plan on mentioning it. I'm kind of shy in some ways, and I just figured I'd let it slide, and if people started to mention it, whatever. But somehow, some people got it in their heads that I was planning this big surprise revelation, which I wasn't.
MTV: That's a relief. I thought I might have to go into hiding.
Meyer: [The fanbase] is pretty quick-tempered sometimes. [Laughs.] I noticed that when we were casting the movie. People would just go, "I hate him! What have they done? It's all over!" And then people would warm up [to the actors] in about 30 seconds and give them a chance. I'm sure you are already forgiven.
MTV: It seems for every angry fan, there's a nice fan. Someone posted today on the Movies Blog that "Larry is made of awesome."
Meyer: I would have to agree with that. [Laughs.] I'm having a tremendous time reading all of your articles.
MTV: Well, there's a new signature for my e-mail! "Stephenie Meyer says Larry is made of awesome."
Meyer: [Laughs.] You can use that.
MTV: Were you nervous delivering the "vegetarian plate" line in your acting debut?
Meyer: I actually didn't say anything. [Director] Catherine [Hardwicke] kind of gave that impression in your interview, but they asked me to do a line and I said, "I can't do that." How horrible would it be if there was this moment where I'm so horrible and it just takes everybody out of the moment, and all of the suspended disbelief is gone, and everyone's like, "Wow, she sucked."
MTV: So you don't order the vegetarian plate?
Meyer: I apparently did, previously in the scene. I am delivered a vegetarian plate.
MTV: And is this diner in the Port Angeles scene?
Meyer: No, this is in Forks [Washington, where the "Twilight" books are based]. Charlie and Bella are out for dinner.
MTV: We're wrapping up our survey on an official name for the "Twilight" fanbase. Do you have a preference?
Meyer: I've been calling them Twilighters for a while, but I thought Twi-Hards was hilarious. Mike Welch [who plays Mike Newton in "Twilight"] came up with that, and I thought that was just adorable. It doesn't bother me either way.
MTV: Before the "Host" fans invent their name, do you have any suggestions?
Meyer: Oh, I hadn't even thought about that.
Meyer: Hosters. [Laughs.] It depends on who you're rooting for, because I've had some people who are really pro-souls. Soul Fans maybe?
MTV: You've said that when you write, you cast actors in the roles in your head. Would you like to see a "Host" movie? Who are your dream stars?
Meyer: I would. ... With "Twilight," I felt the actors needed to be up-and-coming artists that haven't been recognized yet. ... With "The Host," I think the actors could be really big names. That would be cool. I'd love to see Robert Redford put on a beard and be Jeb; he would be amazing. ... Matt Damon has some very Jared-esque qualities, and then [I'd love to see] Casey Affleck as Ian and Ben Affleck as Kyle. Imagine the interplay.
MTV: If you could invade anyone's body, à la "The Host," who would it be?
Meyer: I'd really like having a couple days of being a rock star, although I'd rather be a backup — like maybe the drummer for Muse. ... It would also be fun to be gorgeous, like be Charlize Theron, just for a couple of days.
MTV: Describe what it's like to be blessed with that moment of inspiration, when you have a new idea that you absolutely have to write down.
Meyer: Well, it's like you get this kernel of the story, with some really great points that could go many different ways. It's like the explosion of a kernel of popcorn. You've got this little thing with so much potential ... and it expands in front of you.
MTV: Have you ever had a kernel pop and then turn out to be a stale piece of popcorn that tastes like it's been sitting on a theater floor for two weeks?
Meyer: [Laughs.] I have quit one book.
MTV: You have?
Meyer: Yeah. The story was really sound, it was probably pretty good, except it was a chick-lit story. It was going to get funny, but I just got really bored with it. It was all humans, and that doesn't seem to be enough for me. I need a little element of fantasy to make it worth my interest.
MTV: Did you have a name for it?
MTV: And is it now thrown away forever?
Meyer: It's stuck in the computer. Nothing's ever thrown away.
Check out everything we've got on "Twilight."
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