For a once-struggling mother of three, Stephenie Meyer literally had a dream come true. Inspired by a dream she had one night about a human girl falling in love with a vampire, the author wrote the 2005 novel Twilight, which earned monumental success for its relatable characters, dangerous and exciting plot line, and a dashing vampire named Edward Cullen. The star-crossed lovers of Twilight struck a chord with millions of young adult readers while Meyer's success resonated with mothers everywhere. The author wrote three more books in the saga - the heartbreaking New Moon, the action-packed Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn, a novel that completed the series with pages and pages full of romance, plot twists, and even the birth of a vampire. Feature film versions of Meyer's work breathed new life into her novels and turned its star Robert Pattinson into a wanted leading man. Often compared to another successful mother-turned-author J.K. Rowling, Meyer's Twilight saga may have been the product of a dream, but her ability to capture readers worldwide with her writing made her one of the most celebrated authors of all time.
Stephenie Morgan was born on Dec. 24, 1973 in Hartford, CT to Stephen and Candy Morgan. The unusual spelling of her name came from her dad's name with an "ie" at the end. She grew up in Arizona with her five siblings Seth, Emily, Jacob, Paul and Heidi. After attending Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, where she received a National Merit Scholarship, the future author attended Brigham Young University in Provo, UT, graduating with an English degree. She met her husband Christian "Pancho" Meyer while growing up in Arizona. The couple wed in 1994 and had three children.
With a growing family to support, Meyer sought to write Young Adult fiction for a living. It was not until 2003, however, when she found inspiration for a novel. On a June night that year, Meyer dreamed of a girl who falls in love with a vampire; one who also happened to thirsty for her blood. The author immediately put her dream onto paper and often wrote late at night while her kids were asleep. What unfolded in the span of three months was literary magic. Meyer wrote a novel titled Twilight, inspired by the supernatural love story she imagined in her sleep (the dream ended up in Chapter 13 of the novel). Twilight was narrated by a clumsy and shy teen named Bella Swan who moves to the small and dreary town of Forks, WA where she meets a brooding, pale-faced, handsome young man in her high school named Edward Cullen. Twilight explored the complex relationship between the two main characters - from Bella's discovery of Edward's immortality to the impending danger of a human falling in love with a vampire. Meyer later told MTV the allure of the vampire was that they are "scary and sexy at the same time."
Twilight was released in 2005 after Meyer signed a three-book deal with Little, Brown and Company. The novel was a hit, debuting at No. 5 on The New York Times bestseller list and eventually selling 42 million copies worldwide. Amazon.com gave Twilight the honor of "Best Book of the Decade So Far." Fans could not get enough of Bella and Edward's story and wanted more. In 2006, Meyer released New Moon, the second book in the saga. The author said music played a huge part in her novels, with her Muse and Linkin Park albums providing the soundtrack whenever she wrote. New Moon took on a much darker tone than its predecessor. The novel began with Edward leaving Bella in order to protect her from his bloodthirsty lifestyle. A majority of New Moon centered on the heroine's friendship with Jacob Black, a strapping and loyal young man who, in true Meyer fashion, ended up transforming into a werewolf. The second book in the saga planted the seeds of the love triangle between Bella and her two suitors - one a vampire; the other a werewolf. By the time the third novel Eclipse was released in 2007, Meyer's first three books in the Twilight saga had spent a combined 143 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list.
There was much speculation on how the author would wrap up the Twilight saga. The novels even had a very dedicated fan base; those who nicknamed themselves "Twi-hards." Meyer's background as a stay-at-home mother of three with worldwide success had fellow mothers supporting her and her work. Fans called "Twi-moms" created buzz for Meyer and her novels, which the group deemed an appropriate and entertaining read for their teenagers and themselves. Meyer knew she had a lot of questions to answer and loose ends to tie up when she began writing Breaking Dawn, the fourth novel in the series. Released in 2008, Breaking Dawn centered around a married Bella and Edward having a half human/half vampire daughter while the fate of both mother and child are threatened by a powerful vampire coven called the Volturi. The werewolf story was not left out as half of the novel was narrated by Jacob. Breaking Dawn sold over 1.3 million copies its first day and won Meyer a British Book Award, beating out Rowling's The Tales of Beedle the Bard.
Breaking Dawn was bittersweet for fans as Meyer declared it was the last novel told from Bella's point of view. The author wrote a companion novel to Twilight titled Midnight Sun, which was the first book told through Edward's point of view. A draft of the book was leaked online, prompting Meyer to postpone its release. In an effort to prevent further piracy, Meyer herself posted the first 12 chapters on her official website and declared she was putting Midnight Sun on hold indefinitely. Instead, she released a novel titled The Host in May 2008, her first non-Twilight project. The Host, about an alien that inhabits the body of a young woman, debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists.
In 2008, USA Today named Meyer "Author of the Year." She also saw her first novel adapted to the big screen as a feature film directed by Catherine Hardwicke. The movie "Twilight" starred Pattinson as Edward, Kristen Stewart as Bella, and Taylor Lautner as Jacob. Meyer made a cameo in the film as a local woman eating at the same diner as Bella and her father. Fans lined up at midnight on Nov. 21, 2008 to be the first to watch "Twilight." As expected, the film was a monster hit at the box office, earning $70 million its opening weekend. The film's young stars also became household names. Pattinson and Lautner became heartthrobs overnight, while rumors of a real-life romance between "Twilight" lovebirds Pattinson and Stewart made headlines in magazines and on entertainment blogs. The "Twilight" cast reunited in 2009 for "New Moon," the second film in the series, directed by Chris Weitz. That same year, Meyer starred in a Female Force comic book written by Ryan Burton and drawn by Dave MacNeil. The comic series highlighted prominent women in media, politics and pop culture. Former subjects included Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama.
The third offering in the cinematic adaptations of Meyer's best-selling novels came with "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" (2010), which found Bella fast approaching high school graduation and forced to choose between Edward and Jacob, while a string of murders plague Seattle. Despite mixed reviews, the David Slade-helmed "Eclipse" went on to become the highest-grossing movie in the series up to that point. Taking a page from the "Harry Potter" films, the final entry in the franchise was divided into two separate films, with "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1" (2011) and "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 2" (2012) being released over a two-year period. Taken over by director Bill Condon, the films were shot simultaneously during the early months of 2011. Future film projects for Meyer included a possible filming of her non-Twilight novel, The Host, a science fiction tale about alien beings who attempt to conquer earth by inhabiting the bodies and minds of humans.