Twilight: why even literary snobs are in the author’s debt

I did not want to read it.
I am not a fan of romance.
And I generally dislike the paranormal stuff.
I have a backlog of books I’d prefer to immerse myself in.
But the intrigue finally got to me.
I had to know how one book could could enrage so many writers and, at the same time, convert thousands, at least, of people who had not picked up a book in decades into passionate readers.
So when a friend offered me a copy of Twilight, I couldn’t resist.
And I was surprised.
Very surprised.
The answer to Stephenie Meyer’s success is simple, but it is also quite complicated.
It’s not the writing that makes Twilight a best seller. It is a combination of psychology, seductive descriptions, simple language and skilled storytelling. And that combination is too perfect to argue that Stephenie Meyer simply got lucky.
Let’s start with the psychology.
Like any good romance writer, Meyer’ chooses a girl who believes herself to be ordinary, who has never even had a date, who is so much like so many of us, especially when we were in high school.
She takes this girl and makes her the object of a highly desirable man’s obsession. She gives every ordinary girl or woman out there hope. She feeds her fantasies. She helps her feel good about herself and feel good about her potential self.
Next, she draws vivid and fascinating portraits of these vampires.
I want to watch them walk. I want to breath their scents. I want to experience their powerful arms, their speed, their bodies in sunlight. I want to watch them play baseball.
They are spectacular and original.
Somehow, Stephenie Meyers makes me want that.
Add to that the seduction. The way Edward touches Isabella is almost pornographic.
It’s hard to remember that they do nothing more than kiss. I want to find out what happens to them. Does it work? Does she become a vampire?
The plot and it’s pacing are enough to pull me through.
Otherwise, I have to admit, the writing is pretty lousy.
If I had to read that a character’s eyes, face or expression was “unreadable” one more time, I think I might have burned that book. I quickly grew tired of lengthy descriptions of Isabella’s every mundane move. Do I really need to watch her climb each and every stair? Brush her teeth? Pee?
Over and over again?
And how quickly her characters leap to rage. I could never be friends with these people. There is no warning, no build-up. One wrong word or move and they clench their fists, turn purple and refuse to speak to each other.
Seconds later, they are best buddies again, of course.
This lack of emotional transition is the mark of an impatient writer. Someone who is too lazy, too unobservant or too lacking in literary talent to get it right. I found it unforgivable. So unforgivable that, despite the awesome vampires, I could not like this novel.
But, I’m not her market.
I’m not important and that’s okay.
The elements of writing that I find annoying in Twilight are among those that make the language accessible for nonreaders or hurried readers. I don’t want to be told how someone feels. I want to be shown. I want to feel myself growing angry with the character, or calmer or happier.
More readers than not don’t want to work that hard.
From Twilight, they want two things: seduction and action.
The rest is irrelevant.
But, as a writer, there are two things I get from Twilight: more people who are turned onto books, people who might start off with Twilight, but then, later, become more sophisticated readers; and more money for the publishing industry, money that allows editors to take chances on novels like mine own.
So, how can I complain? How can any writer complain? How can anyone deny Stephenie Meyer the right to her success?
I felt it in the beginning, before I read Twilight, before I formed informed opinions of my own.
Her critics–the hard-core unyielding critics who accuse her of single-handedly triggering the demise of literature–are jealous.
Their complaints are, as I suspected, sour grapes.

The "other" Lori Foster

They were closing in on me.
I felt it.
I felt it the moment I introduced myself at the Fifth Annual Readers and Authors Get Together Friday night. I heard it in their murmurs to each other. I saw it as they moved forward, toward the two of us.
Toward me.
I had forgotten that some of those people are obsessed.
Maybe even a little crazy.
And so I got out of there–fast.
It was a dynamic I had not anticipated.
I thought I would waltz into the Marriott 20 minutes from my home, drop off my donation for the raffle and say a quick “hello” to the other Lori Foster, the hostess of the event and the one who really gets paid to write.
I had never met her before, though she lives nearby and folks often mistake me for her.
Not the right folks, I’m afraid.
According to Publishers Marketplace, the “other” Lori Foster recently signed a 7-figure deal for her next romance/erotica series. The people she signed with seem to know where to send her paychecks. They are not at all confused.
It’s the others.
My son’s former teacher was certain that I was the famed romance writer. She was under that impression for more than a year before she finally got up the nerve to ask me. A literary agent once apologized for not getting back to me on her request for the manuscript for my novel. Her assistant had moved my email into the “other” Lori Foster’s file.
A few good friends emailed me years ago, shortly after my first son was born. They had seen a novel on the grocery store shelves. It was written by Lori Foster and the title was the same as my son’s first name.
Now really, would I write an erotica novel with a main character named after my son?
The other Lori Foster and I have exchanged a few emails over the years. I had thought about going to the get-together even though I don’t read or write romance. More than 100 authors were scheduled to attend along with a few agents.
Writers are writers, and it would be nice to share their company, I thought.
But I couldn’t go.
My daughter and husband had already planned a rafting trip with a YMCA group.
And I didn’t want to spend money on a babysitter. My husband’s company recently executed a round of furloughs and we have no idea what will happen when the next quarter begins at the end of June. I just couldn’t justify the cost of the registration and the cost of a sitter for the three other children.
So I decided to donate a gift basket full of writerly things from my business,, instead. The woman who took my donation laughed when I gave her my name and pointed to the other Lori Foster, who was standing just a few feet away.
She was busy.
The buffet dinner was underway.
The fans and authors had gathered.
Things were hectic.
So I introduced myself and said a brief “hello” to this kind, petite woman with whom I share a name, a city and a passion for writing. I had to speak loudly over the din, loud enough for others around us to hear. I began to stutter a bit when I noticed the odd reaction.
I’m sure the novelty would have passed quickly.
I mean, what was there to say?
But it was too strange to be stared at that way.
And so I left, happy to have finally met her, but relieved that I had not registered.