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Q+A for The Host in Houston.

Meyer, Stephenie. "Q+A for The Host in Houston." Klein Forrest High School, sponsored by the Barnes and Noble at Champion's Village. 9 May 2008.

That was really awesome. I am excited to be here. This is my second time in Houston. I've seen some of you before. Houston was actually my biggest event I've ever had. Texas has always been really, really good to me, so I'm excited to be back. I have your questions. Some of you got here really early and were able to fill out question forms for me, and I've found that I'm much more comfortable talking about things that I know you're interested in and so I tried to pull a lot of them. I want to get right to them; I want to answer as many as I can.

1The first question I have is from Marrari, and she wants to know where I got the idea for The Host from. Which is a good question because we're here about The Host.
The Host
was not a dream. I get a lot of people who ask me, did you have a dream for every book you write? And if I had a dream for every book I write, I would have written one book and been done. The Host was not from a dream. Once I got the idea that if I wrote my stories down, people would like them, that was really incredible. And The Host was just an idea I had while I was taking a really long car trip with my three little boys watching movies because they wouldn't talk to me and I was bored out of my mind. And I was driving through the desert, and I guess that's why this story is set so much in the desert. That's where I'm from; that's who I am. I'm a desert dweller. So that really was a kind of interesting thing, kind of explained what that life was like to myself and other people. And so The Host was a product of driving through the desert, which, if you don't have a good story to tell yourself, you know, you're in trouble.

2 Shannon and Leslie want to know, "will you continue to pursue writing novels in the adult novel genre after writing The Host?"
That's a good question. When I write a book, I never think, "hm. Let's see. What's a good demographic? Should I choose ten-year old boys to write for this time? What would be a good story that they would like?" That's not how I work. I have a story, I write it down, I enjoy the process immensely, and then my agent says, "You know, I think this is an adult novel." It's like, "Oh. OK, sure, whatever you say." I don't worry about other people when I write, that's the last thing on my mind. I just thought of a question that's similar: what if I had a story idea and I know that fans are going to be upset by it? I think it was a New Moon reference. But when I write a story, I mean, I love you guys, but when I write, I write for me. And I think that's the best way I write. If I was trying to make everyone happy, it would be impossible. Because I see things online, "If Stephenie does this in book four, I'm burning the book!" I know you think I'm not going to read that stuff, but I'm watching! And then I'll read the next comment from someone else and it will say the exact opposite: "If Stephenie doesn't do this, I'm going to burn the book." So you see, it's truly no win. If I was trying to please everyone it would be impossible. I'm just trying to please myself and write a story that I really enjoy other people do, too, and I plan to continue writing that way.

3 This question is from Mary. She says, Which Host characters do you relate to most? Did you give them any of your quirks?

In the - to an extent, I did. I have my two main characters, Wanderer & Melanie, and both of them have a negative aspect of my personality and both of them have a positive aspect that I wish I had. So Melanie can be kind of ruthless and she gets to be in a bad mood sometimes, and she can be pretty hardcore. But she's also immensely strong emotionally and physically, which is what I wish I had. And then Wanderer is like, perfectly compassionate, she always has the right instinct; she always wants to be kind. But then she can be kind of a coward, too, which is more like I am. So I did put in them, there was some exploration of who I am and also who I wanted to be. None of the other characters really have any connection, they're really imaginary, except a little bit Doc who is a lot like my brother who is studying to be an eye doctor right now. He got to sneak in there a little bit.

4 OK, this is a fun question. This is from Shelley. If they made the Host into a movie, who would your ideal actors be that you'd like to play the main roles?

I love to cast things in my head. When I read anybody's books, not just my own, I go "Oooh, that should be Daniel Day Lewis. He would do a really great job." So with The Host I have thought about this. This is actually really difficult because can you imagine an actress portraying the Wanderer/ Melanie relationship on screen? I mean, she would look like Gollum! *gestures the conversation* It would take a really genius [screen] writer to come up with a way to make that work visually; I don't know if it's possible. But if it were, I think a really, really cool Jared would be Matt Damon. Because he is just... Oh, yeah. And then my favorite Ian at the moment is James McAvoy. That's my wish fulfillment.

5 This one is from Carrie, and she says, "I love your playlist from Twilight, will you have one for The Host, too?"

That's so embarrassing! Because I do have one for The Host? And I should have sent it to my brother to have him post it when The Host came out, totally spaced at the beginning of the tour. So when I get home next week in between touring I'm hoping that I can remember to get that up. I do like sharing music; it's one of the things I really enjoy.

6 This one is great, it's from Becky. It says, have you ever personally been involved in a love triangle?

That is a really good question. Actually, yes, but I was the only one who knew about it. It was in college, and .... I don't know. So I had these two boyfriends and they didn't know about each other. And I just realized that if you actually count someone who will remain unnamed, there was actually three. I had fun in college.

7 This one is from Andrea: How did you react to the time 100 list?

So I don't know. The people who read online know this. I got to be picked as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and you don't have to clap for that. [Stephenie looks embarrassed] It was really weird. But the reason that I picked that question was that I did want to tell you how dedicated I am to you guys. Last night I could have been at a party in New York with George Clooney and Robert Downey, Jr. And I had an event in Kansas City and I had this event today and I said, "You know what? They had already sold tickets and I can't cancel on them." But really, my head would have exploded trying to figure out a dress to wear, so it's probably a good thing. But, really. I mean, Robert Downy Jr.? Awww....

8 This question is from Cheryl, she wants to know how I feel about the impact I've made on my over 25 group, my Twilight Moms.
You know, the cool thing about over 25 fans is that when I started writing, like I said before The Host, I didn't write YA on purpose. I wrote a story for me, and it was even more specifically for me at that point because I had no intention of ever letting anybody read it. I was 29, so Twilight really was for me at 29, so it really didn't surprise me that people who are in the same age bracket as me enjoy it. We all went to high school. We all remember. As I've often said, those scars do not go away. So I really enjoy my mom fans.

But. There is something that I've gotten a lot of flack for on the internet, and I want to steal a minute and explain it.
I once did say on Twilight Moms that people who have kids get Twilight the way it was meant to be gotten. And I got a bit of flack on that. People say, "What are you saying? I don't get Twilight?" But what I'm saying is that people who have kids get Twilight the way I get it. And as the writer I think I'm allowed to say that that's how it's meant to be gotten. I do think that there is a little bit extra you get from my novels when you have the experience of being a mom. There is just that extra layer. And even in Twilight there is the relationship you have to Bella. If you have a kid you can understand why I have to shake her now and then. "What are you doing dating a vampire?" So you have a little bit different reading on it.

9 All right. This one is from Laura. She says, as a writer, have you ever gotten to a point where your story takes you one way, but you know your fans won't like that. Has that ever happened, and what path did you choose?
I wanted to get this one in. Like I said before, I follow the path of the story. I do something that people aren't going to like, I'm usually not aware of that until after it's done and then I say "Ohhh. People are going to be ticked." But usually the story happens, the way it happens. Oddly enough, it feels like nonfiction to me. My editor will come in and say, "This doesn't work. We're going to have to cut it." And I'm like, "What do you mean? This is what happened! We're re-arranging it here!" It's like we're writing fiction or something.

10This is a question from Allison and Jenna.
Your faith is evident in your novels with topics such as immortality and mythical creatures How does your religion affect your writing?

I don't purposely - I don't use my books as a forum for discussing religion. However, I do have to write from my personal experience and my life was always a religious one. So it comes into my characters in that for me, a fully rounded character has to think about "where did I come from? Why am I here? What am I going to do after this life?" If you think about that, to me, that means you're very realistic. I think that everyone does think about that.
And so that comes in with some characters that don't naturally think about the afterlife because it makes them feel more real to me. Despite my religious community, -----. Next week I'll be in Salt Lake City, and if we had not included a ticketed event up there, we would have not left the state of Utah. So they have been very, very supportive of me, which is great.

11 ------- Twilight?
Good question. The things I wish I would have known. I wish I would have understood the editing process more before I started it. The first editing package I got was probably a lot more devastating than it should have been. I thought that editing was when they come through and they say, "You know, this word could be better. The punctuation doesn't work here. Let's work on the grammar." When they come in, they say "Let's kill Renee!" I was not prepared for that. Yes. They wanted to kill Renee. Absolutely. Honestly, they wanted Edward invisible. ------- I was just shocked at how brutal it was because I didn't understand that's how it works. I would have been better off if I would have been better prepared. So you need to know that when a story comes through the hands of the editor, anything can happen.

------. You have, like, two content editors. And they want to kill people. Then you have the line edits, and they want to rewrite everything and make it better. They copy edit, which is when we get to the punctuation and all of the things that you did wrong. And they ------, which is when you make your title. I mean, you will be editing for months and months and months. I also want to talk about your covers. It takes quite a while. You don't get to pick your covers unless you are really lucky. You don't get to pick the jacket copy. All you actually have control over is what's on the pages. And so that's --------. I think the process can be a little overwhelming when you first get into it.

But other than that, there are things that I did naturally that worked out really well that I like to share with other authors. I didn't write with one thought of publishing. I didn't write for others to read it. I just wanted to get that book out. But that can be a really intimidating thing and it can hold you back when you're thinking," *sigh* is anyone going to like this book? Who would I sell it to? How would I get started? How do I get an agent?" If those thoughts are in your head, they will keep you from writing. While you are writing, forget about everything else. Just look at the story. When you're done there is plenty of time to think about the rest of it. But at the beginning, please only yourself. Make sure that you can't stop reading and you write a great draft. After that, go online. I did all of the research just from scratch. I didn't know anybody in the business, I didn't have an in. I just found some sites that were really helpful in writing query letters to literary agents and followed the rules. Literary agents really like that. When you take, like, -------- because you think they'll like that -------, they get annoyed. So follow the rules.

12 OK, this one is from Liz. Was that your eye on the cover of the Host?

First of all, on the front cover of The Host, no that is not my eye. I don't know why anyone would wonder that. Also, on the cover of Twilight, those are not my hands. There are people who are models who get paid to be beautiful all the time. They get to be on covers of novels, not the authors. And then the meaning of the covers people ask a lot, so really quickly, the apply cover is about choice. It's forbidden fruit. It's kind of the idea, are you going to bite into the apple or are you going to leave it alone? So that's the first one, which I like. The tulip, New Moon, had no meaning at all. That is what my publisher thought was pretty. The ribbon I did get to be involved with. For me, it's about the idea of trying to cut the ties with your life. You can't do that cleanly. When you look at the picture of the ribbon, it's all frayed up and some of the threads are still attached. And I think that's Bella trying to leave behind all of those human things and finding out that she really can't do it that easily. I will say this about the cover of book four. I did get to choose it; I got to design it. So I was really happy with it.

13 OK, this question is from Alaina. I think it was Alaina. Do you feel as if the movie best represents your book and the characters that you envision when writing?
I know people like to hear about the movie, so I pulled this one. And that's a good question. You know what? If the BBC decides to do a six hour version of Twilight like they did with Pride and Prejudice and go line by line, you know, that would be cool or a Hallmark thing. This is a movie for theaters, and so it's obviously not going to be that same. It's a visual medium. Things are going to look different, some things had to be combined. Characters like Eric Yorkie and Ben Cheney have became one person in the interest of making things move along. However, the heart of it is still going to be there. From everything I've seen, Bella is Bella; Edward is Edward and it really looks right and feels right. So I'm really excited about it.

14 This one is from Vy. She says, if you could change anything about the Twilight series, what would you add or rewrite?
I thought that was a really insightful question because Twilight was the first thing I ever wrote. I had no practice. I'd taken no creative writing classes. And I think I could probably do it, like, 150% better now because I'm a better writer than I used to be. But I don't get that chance. I would like to go and take out every third "after." There are some things that I can do more elegantly now. But also, now that I'm working on Midnight Sun there's a certain line that I've written that if I would have written it a little bit differently, it would be so much easier to do it from Edward's perspective. But I have what I have and ------.

15 In 2001, and I don't have a perfect answer for this one, but if you just say yes or no, it will help. The question from April is, is Breaking Dawn the end of Edward and Bella, or will there be more to come in the future?

I don't know. I have other stories in my head. They will not be from Bella's perspective; Breaking Dawn is the last book that she'll tell the story for. And I think that that is right. You can pull things out forever, but eventually things start sounding really flat. This is the natural end of the story. I wouldn't want to prolong it longer than it should be. I may go back with other characters, but we'll see if I recover from the last two years. I want to take a year and just write whatever I want to write, and I'm guessing that it will be things that are pretty out there. To get away from editing, I wrote about aliens. This year, maybe it will be elfs, maybe it would be mermaids. I don't know; we'll see. Maybe it would be humans. That's kind of crazy. So I want a chance to write just for the love of writing again. And I may go back and forth. I don't think I can stay away from them forever. It's a possibility. All right.

So those are the questions. I think we're going to go someplace else to sign.


OK, folks. That's the whole thing.... the only problem is that I'm not really POSITIVE it's in the right order. I'm not so sure about the section that offers advice for writers, but I think I've got it in the right place. If you have a video that shows me otherwise, please please please send it or upload it!

I used the following video angels to complete this one:

BellaCullen1994, melodyssong4916, jesskuhlovesedward.

And got some extra help from the Twilight Lexicon, LaTuaCantante24, and NoelPortugal.



steph says