Yes, I know. But here’s the thing: Twilight wouldn’t be as successful as it is if there weren’t a lot of readers who liked it. A lot.
I’m sticking my neck out here, and risking the ridicule of my fellow BVC members, but I have to be honest. I read the Twilight books—I wanted to see what all the fuss was about—and I got a kick out of them. I was not enthralled by them, mind, but I could see that if I had come across them when I was a young teen, I would have been. They hit all the right emotional points to appeal to a young girl.
Yes, the writing is not sophisticated. Yes, some of the ideas are, um—not progressive. Yes, Bella is rather a whiner. I had similar complaints about the writing of another bestselling author (whose books I still can’t stand to read), but in a class in Lincoln City, Dean Wesley Smith set me straight about that.
The writer in question had offended me in so many ways. I was outraged that I’d had to read the book for the class. So were a lot of my fellow students. Dean’s point was simply this: that writer’s readers didn’t care about the things that were bothering me. The writer told a good story, and the readers were willing to overlook the stuff that drove me crazy. It was the storytelling that was important.
Millions of readers are hard to argue with. Success is hard to argue with. Stephenie Meyer is a winner, in ways I can only dream of.
So many critics, writers, and other experts have trashed the Twilight books. If they’re that bad, why do they keep selling? Do the tastes of that audience not matter?
The truth is, writers are hypercritical of writing. We see flaws, we see things that could be improved. We tend to obsess on details that aren’t as important to the reader as they are to us. It’s hard for us to just sit down and enjoy a book with out the little red, horned editor sitting on our shoulder. We get caught up in thinking how we would have written it, instead of just enjoying the story. We can have trouble remembering that some readers like stuff that we wouldn’t write.
I’m grateful that readers have a variety of interests. Heck, I read a lot of different stuff myself. I probably wouldn’t try to write the kind of book that I don’t like to read (in fact, I recently declined to write such a book when a publisher invited me to), but I’ll give a lot of writers the benefit of the doubt.
That doesn’t mean I never throw a book against the wall. I’ve done that with some bestsellers, but not with Twilight. Twilight I totally got.
I wrote my own book with Meyer’s audience in mind. I do not have sparkly vampires. I do have teen angst and romantic obsession, so if those bother you, Immortal may not be for you. If you’re willing to experiment, drop a comment below and you’ll be in a drawing for a free copy.
Pati Nagle is currently trying to figure out how to throw a book against the wall now that she mostly reads on her Kindle. She wrote Immortal for readers who have run out of Twilight. She’s written other books for people who don’t fit that description. Visit her Bookshelf at Book View Café to check them out, or buy Immortal if you’re feeling brave. No sparklies. Promise.