KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
Ten years ago, author Stephenie Meyer put a twist on the whole boy-meets-girl thing in a novel called "Twilight."
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "TWILIGHT")
KRISTEN STEWART: (As Bella Swan) About three things I was absolutely positive - first, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him - and I didn't know how dominant that part might be - that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.
MCEVERS: In "Twilight," girl meets vampire. The romance between Bella and Edward sparked a saga that includes four best-selling books translated into nearly 50 languages, five blockbuster movies and a legion of dedicated fans known as Twilighter, or Twihards. A 10th anniversary edition of "Twilight" was released today, and it comes with a twist.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: For one, Edythe was an actual vampire. For another, there was a part of her that saw me as food. But in the end, none of that mattered. All that mattered was that I loved her, more than I'd ever imagined it was possible to love anything.
MCEVERS: That's a reading from "Life And Death." It's a reimagining of "Twilight." And, yes, you heard it correctly. It's now told from a male point of view. There is no Bella. There is now Beau. And Edward the vampire - she's Edythe. Stephenie Meyer has reassigned the gender of her characters, and she's here to talk about that with us from our studios in New York. Welcome to the show.
STEPHENIE MEYER: Thank you so much.
MCEVERS: Well, let's start with the characters as they were originally written. There was Bella, the human, and Edward, the vampire. And just remind us what their personalities are like and who they are.
MEYER: Wow, that's a lot.
MCEVERS: I know.
MCEVERS: That's a lot of books to get through.
MEYER: It is. I mean, Bella is - I don't know that she's your average headstrong teenage girl, but she's a quiet, contained person but very stubborn whereas Edward is someone who's lived with a deep, dark secret for a hundred years and has all of the neuroses that you would have in that situation. And both of them are falling in love for the first time.
MCEVERS: So now let's get to this new, reimagined version of "Twilight." In the forward to "Life And Death" - it's the bonus content in the 10th anniversary release of "Twilight - you say it would make no difference if the human were male and the vampire were female. "Twilight" has always been a story about magic and obsession and the frenzy of first love. Why did you want to change the genders of the characters?
MEYER: As they were gearing up to do the 10th anniversary edition - which I wasn't much involved with at that point in time, I knew it was going to happen - the publisher wanted me to do something for the release. I think the idea was a forward or something, which sounds really, really boring to be. And I was trying to think of something that wouldn't just, you know, suck, really. And I'd had people ask me, you know, if Bella was too much a damsel in distress. And so many times I said she's a human in distress. None of us would fare so well trying to match our strength to someone who had superpowers. So as I was thinking about that, I thought, well, what I kind of looked at it through that different lens - Beau's perspective? And I started the first chapter, and then it kind of got away from me.
MCEVERS: I mean, you have gotten criticism for the fact that Bella, you know, in the original story was this damsel in distress. She was sort of passive and clumsy and her entire being was defined by her love for this guy Edward, the vampire, who was, you know, controlling. In some ways, was this gender swapping an answer to that criticism?
MEYER: A little bit. You know, there's a different power to being the quiet one, and so I've never really felt that Edward was as controlling as some people think or Bella's as passive as people think. But in that one specific query, this was my ability to really answer it solidly - that there really is no difference when the human is the male. He's in the same predicament. He still can't lift cars over his head.
MCEVERS: Just tell me about Beau and Edythe. How are they different from the original characters?
MEYER: Beau is not as angry as Bella is. He's also a little bit more OCD. And then Edythe is very similar to Edward. There are a few places where I wished in the original novel I had shown what he could do a little bit more. She tends to answer questions before people can answer them more than Edward did. But that was more just, oh, I should've done it that way the first time (laughter).
MCEVERS: All right, now this might be a question just for the Twihards who are listening, but I feel like we should talk about "Midnight Sun." This is a project you started where you were writing to tell the story of Edward and Bella from Edward's point of view. This new, reimagined version is definitely not that story. I mean, do you think it will satiate the fans who were so hungry for more?
MEYER: Oh, absolutely not (laughter). In fact, I knew that a lot of people would hope that it was "Midnight Sun" with a new title and then be horribly disappointed. So I felt better about just have it come out and you can see what it is immediately and hopefully avoid some of that crushing disappointment. If it doesn't have Edward, people aren't as interested. So we'll see if anyone wants to read "Life And Death" because I will tell you my mother objects to the fact that Edward is not in this novel (laughter). She couldn't get into it because there was no Edward.
MCEVERS: Stephenie Meyer, thank you so much for joining us today.
MEYER: Oh, absolutely.
MCEVERS: Stephenie Meyer spoke to us about "Life And Death," a reimagining of her original vampire novel, "Twilight."
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