You came up with the story for your first book, Twilight, in a dream. From there, how did you come up with the characters? —Theresa Kolberg, PHOENIX
I think you only get one dream like that in a lifetime, and it was all I needed. Once I unlocked the door, there were a lot of stories waiting to get out. Apparently, there are enough people in my head to supply me for a while.
What do you think makes your writing attract the attention that it gets? —Ashlie Meyer CINCINNATI, OHIO
All I can guess is that when I write, I forget that it’s not real. I’m living the story, and I think people can read that sincerity about the characters. They are real to me while I’m writing them, and I think that makes them real to the readers as well.
How do you feel about being compared to J.K. Rowling? —David Sobalvarro WASHINGTON
It’s mixed. On one hand, it’s really flattering. I’m a huge fan. On the other hand, there is a bit of backlash because then people say, “Who does she think she is?” And then I feel bad, like I’m the one going around and saying this, which I’m not. I don’t enjoy that side of it.
How do you write in a way that attracts readers of all ages? —Pamela Dorn, CHICAGO
I didn’t write these books specifically for the young-adult audience. I wrote them for me. I don’t know why they span the ages so well, but I find it comforting that a lot of thirtysomethings with kids, like myself, respond to them as well–so I know that it’s not just that I’m a 15-year-old on the inside!
Throughout the Twilight saga, there are many different kinds of love between the characters–romantic, paternal, etc. Do you have a message about love that you want the reader to walk away with? —Marissa Parisi BURLINGTON, VT.
I never write messages. I always write things that entertain me, and one of the things that I find really enjoyable to explore is the idea of love. I like looking at my own life and my friends and family and how love changes who you are. It fascinates me.
Music is obviously a huge creative influence on you. Has music always been a part of your life? —Karen Medley, SEATTLE
Actually, growing up, I didn’t listen to a ton. My parents were pretty strict. I only discovered music as an inspiration later in life.
Aside from Mitt Romney, you seem to be the most popular Mormon right now in the U.S. Do you feel that you are a good representative of your religion? —Mary-Jean Corriss CENTRAL, ISLIP, N.Y.
Being Mormon is a big part of who I am, and I try very hard to live the right way, but I don’t know that I’m an example. I hate to say, “Yes, look at me. I’m a good example of being Mormon.” I want to be the best person I can be, so in that aspect, maybe I’m a good example.
What kind of research on vampires, if any, did you do before writing Twilight? —Jen Potcher, BOISE, IDAHO
The only time I really did any research on vampires was when the character Bella did research on vampires. Because I was creating my own world, I didn’t want to find out just how many rules I was breaking.
What advice do you have for other women raising families at home who want to branch out and achieve something like you have done? —Jocelyn Gibbons ALEXANDRIA, VA.
Go for it! I didn’t plan to start a new career when I did this, and it took a lot of courage to send out those query letters. I sent 15, and I got nine rejection letters, five no responses and one person who wanted to see me. If it’s something you enjoy, put the determination and will behind it and see what happens.
If you were a vampire, what would your special power be? —Melanie Konstantinou TRENTON, N.J.
I have a hard time imagining that I would have one. I think I would just be happy with not having to sleep and not aging. That would be kind of cool.
In Breaking Dawn it seems as though you purposefully avoid a fight scene at the end of the book. Had you planned that all along? —Travis Baldwin, Oxford, Alabama
That is the original ending to the first rough draft I ever did of Breaking Dawn, back in 2003. It was always for me more like a courtroom drama, which is one of my few TV addictions, rather than a battle scene. It was always about outmaneuvering someone mentally; I knew that if it turned into a physical battle, there was never going to be a winner. That was the ending that really felt true to the characters to me — because it was a mental game.
Did your views on religion affect your way of writing in the Twilight series? —Margarita Galvez, Manila
Really, not so much. Not consciously at all. When I’m writing the stories I’m just looking to have a good time. But I do think that because I’m a very religious person, it does tend to come out somewhat in the books, although always unconsciously.
After reading TIME’s article about you in April, I believed that a main attraction of the Twilight novels was the way your teenage audience could relate to Bella and her “squeaky-clean” relationship with Edward. Now, in Breaking Dawn, you’ve introduced these characters to marriage and pregnancy, both milestones that are many years distant for your young readers. Why did you decide to take the story in this direction? —Kathryn Blackley, Jamesville, N.Y.
To me, the story was realistic. Things do change, you do grow up, and the world changes. Maybe an influence was the Anne of Green Gables series, which is one of my favorites because it didn’t end at the wedding. It wasn’t a kiss and then everything was happily ever after. [The main characters] were married for years and they had kids and then their kids had stories. I really liked the book didn’t end that way. I wanted to see reality, and the reality is that things don’t fade to black when you get married.
Are the characters you wrote about based on any real-life people? Did anyone in your life influence the personalities of the characters? —Theresa Kolberg, Phoenix
Every now and then there will be a character that is a combination of people I knew — some of the girls in Bella’s high school definitely reflect people I knew at that stage in my life — but for the most part, they come out of nowhere. It’s amazing, some of the characters are so completely rounded and as soon as I think of them, I know everything about them. And then there are others that I have to work for a little bit harder, and sort of get down to their motivations. A few of them — Rosalie, for example — were difficult. It took me a while to figure out what her thing was.
Did you think that your books would have such a huge impact on readers? —Gail Schulman, Warren N.J.
Gosh no! And I keep getting surprised. When Twilight hit the New York Times bestseller list at number 5, for me that was the pinnacle, that was the moment. I never thought I would be there. And I keep having moments like that where you just stop and say, wait a minute — how is this still going up? I’m waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under me. I have from day one because I’m kind of a pessimist. But it just keeps being huge and no, I had no idea. I still have no idea.