These are the most popular questions that I got while on tour. This page is thick with explicit spoilers, so I would recommend not reading this if you have not yet read the book but are still planning to.
- What does the cover mean?
- What does the title mean?
- What does the Book I prologue refer to?
- Why the big build-up for a fight that didn’t happen?
- What was the other book besides Midsummer Night’s Dream that you said influenced Breaking Dawn?
- What happened to Marcus’s wife?
- How different is Breaking Dawn from Forever Dawn? What changed, what stayed the same, and why? Will you ever post extras from Forever Dawn?
- Why the name Renesmee?
- What’s the deal with “shapeshifters”?
- What happened to Leah?
- What happened to Sam’s father?
- Is Billy actually Ephraim?
- Who is Embry’s father?
- Vampires and pregnancy: when did that idea occur to you? How does that work?
- Why did you decide to end the saga?
- How do you feel about the Breaking Dawn controversy?
- I’ve heard you say that you think Breaking Dawn should be two movies. Why? Also, that it might be impossible to film. What does that mean?
- Is Bella an anti-feminist heroine?
- What are you going to do next? Will you continue with the Twilight universe?
What does the cover mean?
Breaking Dawn‘s cover is a metaphor for Bella’s progression throughout the entire saga. She began as the weakest (at least physically, when compared to vampires and werewolves) player on the board: the pawn. She ended as the strongest: the queen. In the end, it’s Bella that brings about the win for the Cullens.
What does the title mean?
The title Breaking Dawn is a reference to the beginning of Bella’s vampire life.
What does the Book I prologue refer to?
These are Bella’s thoughts about Renesmee, during the time when her life was in serious danger from the pregnancy.
Why the big build-up for a fight that didn’t happen?
I’m not the kind of person who writes a Hamlet ending. If the fight had happened, it would have ended with 90% of the combatants, Cullen and Volturi alike, destroyed. There was simply no other outcome once the fight got started, given the abilities and numbers of the opposing sides. Because I would never finish Bella’s story on such a downer—Everybody dies!—I knew that the real battle would be mental. It was a game of maneuvering, with the champion winning not by destroying the other side, but by being able to walk away. This was another reason I liked the chess metaphor on the cover—it really fit the feel of that final game. I put a clue into the manuscript as well. Alice tore a page from The Merchant of Venice because the end of Breaking Dawn was going to be somewhat similar: bloodshed appears inevitable, doom approaches, and then the power is reversed and the game is won by some clever verbal strategies; no blood is shed, and the romantic pairings all have a happily ever after.
What was the other book besides Midsummer Night’s Dream that you said influenced Breaking Dawn?
As noted above, it was The Merchant of Venice.
What happened to Marcus’s wife?
Once upon a time, a fairly young vampire (he had only been a vampire for a decade and a half) named Aro changed his young sister Didyme, who had just reached adulthood, into a vampire in order to add her to his growing coven. Aro always wanted power, and because he himself had a potent mind-reading gift, he hoped his biological sister would also be gifted in a way that would help him rise in the vampire world. It turned out that Didyme did have a gift; she carried with her an aura of happiness that affected everyone who came near her. Though it wasn’t exactly what he had hoped for, Aro pondered the best ways he could use this gift. Meanwhile, Aro’s most trusted partner, Marcus, fell in love with Didyme. This was not unusual; given the way she made people feel, lots of people fell in love with Didyme. The difference was that this time, Didyme fell in love herself. The two of them were tremendously happy. So happy, in fact that, after a while, they no longer cared that much about Aro’s plans for domination. After a few centuries, Didyme and Marcus discussed going their own way. Of course, Aro was well aware of their intentions. He was not happy about it, but he pretended to give his blessing. Then he waited for an opportunity to act, and when he knew he would never be found out, he murdered his sister. After all, Marcus’s gift was much more useful to him than hers had been. This is not to say that Aro did not truly love his sister; it’s just that a key part of his personality is the ability to destroy even what he loves in order to further his ambitions. Marcus never found out that Aro was responsible for Didyme’s death. He became an empty man. Aro used Chelsea’s gift to keep Marcus loyal to the Volturi, though not even Chelsea’s gift could make Marcus show any enthusiasm for it.
How different is Breaking Dawn from Forever Dawn? What changed, what stayed the same, and why? Will you ever post extras from Forever Dawn?
The basic story is the same. Bella and Edward get married and go to Isle Esme for their honeymoon. Bella gets pregnant with Renesmee. The birth just about kills Bella, but Edward makes her a vampire in time. Jacob imprints on Renesmee. Alice has a vision of the Volturi coming to destroy the Cullens with the “immortal child” as their excuse. Alice bails. Bella’s shielding abilities turn the tide in the Cullen’s favor, along with Alice bringing home another half-vampire to prove that Nessie isn’t a danger.
The things that are different:
- Jacob and Bella are not nearly so close. None of the events of New Moon or Eclipse exist; Edward never leaves, so Bella and Jacob never bond. Jacob’s feelings for Bella remain at crush level.
- Due in part to Jacob being a smaller character, the werewolf pack is only sketchily developed. It exists as a whole, but there isn’t much information about the individuals. Most of the wolves do not have names.
- The entire story is written in Bella’s perspective. Because of this, there is a lot more emphasis on the pregnancy phase.
- Jacob isn’t there at the delivery, naturally, so he imprints on Renesmee a few weeks later when Bella is visiting Charlie.
- With no New Moon or Eclipse, Victoria and Laurent are both still alive. Laurent stays happily with Irina and sides with the Cullens in the confrontation with the Volturi. It is Victoria rather than Irina who informs on the Cullens to the Volturi. She creates a new friend, Riley, to make the actual accusation. She doesn’t want Aro to know about her agenda—or the fact that the baby is only half-vampire, of which she is aware.
- The wolves kill Victoria. She is the only casualty at the final confrontation.
- The last chapter ends the same way, but there is an epilogue. It involves Max (J. Jenk’s assistant). Bella’s initial interaction with him is a little bit longer and, feeling she owes him a favor, she gives him her number and tells him she will help him out in return if he ever needs a favor of his own. Max gets himself into some trouble, and Bella gets to play Superman.
I may post some extras someday if I ever have time to go back through the Forever Dawn manuscript—it’s just as long as Breaking Dawn. There are a couple of things that family members told me they particularly missed, so I would start there.
Why the name Renesmee?
Well, I couldn’t call her Jennifer or Ashley. What do you name the most unique baby in the world? I looked through a lot of baby name websites. Eventually I realized that there was no human name that was going to work for me, so I surrendered to necessity and made up my own. I don’t approve of such shenanigans in real life, I don’t even believe in getting creative with spellings for real kids! But this was fantasy, and no human name fit, so I did the best I could. I named Renesmee so long ago—Fall 2003—that the name now sounds really natural to me. It wasn’t until people started mentioning it that I remembered, “Oh, yeah, it is a weird name, isn’t it?”
What’s the deal with “shapeshifters”?
What is the definition of a werewolf? Is it a man who changes into a wolf? Or is it a man who, once infected by a werewolf bite, changes into a wolf during a full moon? If you go with the basic description, then the Quileutes are werewolves. It’s not a distinction that really matters on a normal day. During the standoff with the Volturi (not a normal day), Edward sees that Caius is going to use the treaty with the werewolves as an excuse to attack. He’s aware of the distinction between these wolves and the more traditional kind, and though it’s only a technicality, he is able to use it to deflect the attack. Technically, the Volturi aren’t at war with these wolves and Edward stresses the word “shapeshifter” in order to make the distinction clearer to the witnesses. The Quileutes weren’t aware of the existence of a different species of werewolves, but Carlisle and Edward were. There was a hint about this at the end of Eclipse when Edward says to Victoria (referring to Seth), “Is he really so much like the monster James tracked across Siberia?”
What happened to Leah?
Leah is currently pretty satisfied with life. She’s free from Sam’s pack, which is a very happy thing for her. She’s the “beta” in Jacob’s pack, which she can’t help but be a little smug about around her pack brothers (its kind of a big deal in wolf terms). Jacob has become the reliable friend that she’s been needing for quite some time, and he’s a real comfort to her, though they conceal their fondness for each other with constant bickering. She has absolutely no romantic interest in Jacob, and the whole Nessie thing only bothers her in that it ties her to the vampires.
What happened to Sam’s father?
Sam’s father disappeared when Sam was very young. He wasn’t a great person, and the stress of providing for a family was too much for him, so he skipped out. This is one of the reasons that Sam is mature beyond his years. He picked up a lot of the slack.
Is Billy actually Ephraim?
No, Billy is not Ephraim. Billy is Ephraim’s grandson.
Who is Embry’s father?
I don’t know who Embry’s father is. I’m aware that this lack of knowledge is annoying to some people. I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to explain myself in more detail—that’s one of the drawbacks of interviews. You don’t know what you will be asked, you don’t have much time to come up with an answer, and if you give an answer that is too long, they cut it down into a form that doesn’t make sense. So you have to think on your feet and speak in sound bites. I’m not great at either.
I’m going to try to explain what it means when I say that I don’t know something, or that a character hasn’t revealed some part of himself to me. Those statements are both shorthand answers for a long and complicated explanation that doesn’t work for a sound bite or a stage presentation. No two people write the same way, so I don’t know if this will make sense to anyone else.
When I write a story, I start out with infinite possibilities. As I describe any character or plot point, I make those characteristics finite. For example, once I decide Bella is a brunette, all of her blonde and redhead possibilities disappear. Once I decide Bella lives in Washington, all the other places she might have lived are gone. There’s this huge universe of options that I slowly whittle down into a more focused reality. Until I need to know a certain fact about the character, all the possibilities stay open out there in that universe of possibilities. If I set something in concrete prematurely, it could be a stumbling block later, so I try to keep an open mind about details until they become necessary to the story. If I explore a character too early, that can lock me into a situation that might be difficult to work with later.
So, I haven’t explored the three main options for Embry’s father this deeply yet. Someday, if it becomes necessary to a story, I’ll comb through each character, look at his history and his present, and see which option makes the most sense. I’ll more fully sketch out the internal workings of Billy, Quil Sr., and Samuel Sr. and see whose character supports this backstory best. That’s what I mean when I say that the characters haven’t told me yet. I haven’t dug into them deeply enough to see if this information rings true with who the character is.
Someday, if I continue with the Twilight universe, maybe it will become necessary for me to know who Embry’s dad is. I’m not to that point, and I don’t want to just give a glib, “Oh it’s ___________” kind of answer, because I might regret it later.
Vampires and pregnancy: when did that idea occur to you? How does that work?
The first seed (no pun intended) was planted when I did Bella’s computer research in chapter seven of Twilight. Bella reads about several real vampire legends—the Danag, Estrie, Upier, etc. In the novel, I only mentioned a few of the many legends I read through. One that I didn’t mention at this point was the entry on the Incubus. The unique feature about that legend was that the incubus could father children. Hmmm, I said, and I filed that kernel of an idea away for later. When I decided to write the first sequel to Twilight (Forever Dawn), I knew it was going to revolve around a hybrid baby from the outset.
When my editor and I decided to go back and really develop Bella’s last year of high school, I did so with the knowledge that it was all going to end up with the events in Breaking Dawn. Everything I wrote was pointed in that direction.
I was always very careful when I answered the “Can vampires have babies?” question, because I didn’t want to say anything incorrect, but I also didn’t want to make the future super-obvious. I focused my answers on the female half of the equation—female vampires cannot have children because their bodies no longer change in any aspect. There is no changing cycle to begin with, and their bodies couldn’t expand to fit a growing child, either. I purposely evaded answering the question, “Can a male vampire get a human female pregnant?” to preserve a tiny bit of surprise in the last book. There were many statements on this subject purported to have come from me, but I never made those comments because, obviously, I knew where this was going.
Now, on to the “how is this possible?” question. First of all, of course it’s not possible. None of this story is possible. It’s a fantasy story about creatures that don’t actually exist. Within the context of the fantasy, however, this is how it works:
Vampires are physically similar enough to their human origins to pass as humans under some circumstances (like cloudy days). There are many basic differences. They appear to have skin like ours, albeit very fair skin. The skin serves the same general purpose of protecting the body. However, the cells that make up their skin are not pliant like our cells, they are hard and reflective like crystal. A fluid similar to the venom in their mouths works as a lubricant between the cells, which makes movement possible (note: this fluid is very flammable). A fluid similar to the same venom lubricates their eyes so that their eyes can move easily in their sockets. (However, they don’t produce tears because tears exist to protect the eye from damage, and nothing is going to be able to scratch a vampire’s eye.) The lubricant-venom in the eyes and skin is not able to infect a human the way saliva-venom can. Similarly, throughout the vampire’s body are many versions of venom-based fluids that retain a marked resemblance to the fluid that was replaced, and function in much the same way and toward the same purpose. Though there is no venom replacement that works precisely like blood, many of the functions of blood are carried on in some form. Also, the nervous system runs in a slightly different but heightened way. Some involuntary reactions, like breathing, continue (in that specific example because vampires use the scents in the air much more than we do, rather than out of a need for oxygen). Other involuntary reactions, like blinking, don’t exist because there is no purpose for them. The normal reactions of arousal are still present in vampires, made possible by venom-related fluids that cause tissues to react similarly as they do to an influx of blood. Like with vampire skin—which looks similar to human skin and has the same basic function—fluids closely related to seminal fluids still exist in male vampires, which carry genetic information and are capable of bonding with a human ovum. This was not a known fact in the vampire world (outside of Joham’s personal experimenting) before Nessie, because it’s nearly impossible for a vampire to be that near a human and not kill her.
I didn’t get into all of these details at my signings because it’s a long, complicated mouthful. Also, it’s hard to be clearly heard with all the screaming. Mostly, though, I waited to do this in writing because I have an immature, Homer Simpson-like tendency to giggle when I say the words “seminal fluids” in public.
Why did you decide to end the saga?
The Twilight Saga is really Bella’s story, and this was the natural place for her story to wind up. She overcame the major obstacles in her path and fought her way to the place she wanted to be. I suppose I could try to prolong her story unnaturally, but it wouldn’t be interesting enough to keep me writing. Stories need conflict, and the conflicts that are Bella-centric are resolved.
How do you feel about the Breaking Dawn controversy?
It makes me sad, of course, but I was expecting it. The negative was more than I was braced for, but that was because the book sold a lot more copies than I expected. It was bigger than I thought it would be on both the positive and the negative sides.
It’s inevitable that the bigger your audience gets, the bigger the group who doesn’t like what they’re reading will be. Because no book is a good book for everyone. Every individual has their own personal taste and experience, and that’s why there are such a great variety of books on the shelves. There are lots of very popular books that I don’t enjoy at all. Conversely, there are books that I adore that no one else seems to care about. The surprise to me is that so many people do like my books. I wrote them for a very specific audience of one, and so there was no guarantee that any other person on the planet besides me would enjoy them.
When I publish a book, I know that it’s not going to be right for every person who picks it up. With Breaking Dawn, the expectation was so huge and so intense that I knew the negative reaction was going to be especially bad this time. In the end, it’s just a book. No book—or album, or movie, or tv show, or any other kind of entertainment—can answer to that level of expectation. Oh, it might do it for some people, it might be exactly what they were looking for. But there’s always going to be another group who was looking for something else.
It’s a hard thing to have people unhappy with you, but there’s nothing I can do. Either Breaking Dawn entertains you or it doesn’t. If I could go back in time, knowing everything I know right now, and write the whole series again, I would write exactly the same story. (The writing would be better, though—practice makes perfect.) This is the story I wanted to write, and I love Breaking Dawn. It’s everything I wanted in the last novel of my saga. People’s reactions don’t change that.
I’ve heard you say that you think Breaking Dawn should be two movies. Why? Also, that it might be impossible to film. What does that mean?
If Breaking Dawn were ever made into a movie, it’s hard to imagine it fitting into ninety minutes. The book is just so long! I can’t imagine how to distill it—if I could, the book would be shorter. But maybe a screenwriter can see a way to do it and still cover the crucial plot points.
When I said that Breaking Dawn might be impossible to film, it’s because of Renesmee. You can do almost anything with CGI these days—realistic dragons and dinosaurs and endless amounts of nonexistent creatures that blend right in with the real elements. Some of them look so real you forget they’re not. However, the one thing that I’ve never seen is a CGI human being who truly looks real. An actress can’t play Renesmee, at least not when she’s a few days old; she’s the size of a baby, but her expressions are totally controlled and aware. She would have to be a construct, and CGI isn’t quite there yet. Of course, they develop amazing new technologies everyday, and we’ve got a little time left.
Is Bella an anti-feminist heroine?
When I hear or read theories about Bella being an anti-feminist character, those theories are usually predicated on her choices. In the beginning, she chooses romantic love over everything else. Eventually, she chooses to marry at an early age and then chooses to keep an unexpected and dangerous baby. I never meant for her fictional choices to be a model for anyone else’s real life choices. She is a character in a story, nothing more or less. On top of that, this is not even realistic fiction, it’s a fantasy with vampires and werewolves, so no one could ever make her exact choices. Bella chooses things differently than how I would do it if I were in her shoes, because she is a very different type of person than I am. Also, she’s in a situation that none of us has ever been in, because she lives in a fantasy world. But do her choices make her a negative example of empowerment? For myself personally, I don’t think so.
In my own opinion (key word), the foundation of feminism is this: being able to choose. The core of anti-feminism is, conversely, telling a woman she can’t do something solely because she’s a woman—taking any choice away from her specifically because of her gender. “You can’t be an astronaut, because you’re a woman. You can’t be president because you’re a woman. You can’t run a company because you’re a woman.” All of those oppressive “can’t”s.
One of the weird things about modern feminism is that some feminists seem to be putting their own limits on women’s choices. That feels backward to me. It’s as if you can’t choose a family on your own terms and still be considered a strong woman. How is that empowering? Are there rules about if, when, and how we love or marry and if, when, and how we have kids? Are there jobs we can and can’t have in order to be a “real” feminist? To me, those limitations seem anti-feminist in basic principle.
Do I think eighteen is a good age at which to get married? Personally—as in, for the person I was at eighteen—no. However, Bella is constrained by fantastic circumstances that I never had to deal with. The person she loves is physically seventeen, and he’s not going to change. If she and he are going to be on a healthy relationship footing, she can’t age too far beyond him. Also, marriage is really an insignificant commitment compared to giving up your mortality, so it’s funny to me that some people are hung up on one and not the other. Is eighteen too young to give up your mortality? For me, any age is too young for that. For Bella, it was what she really wanted for her life, and it wasn’t a phase she was going to grow out of. So I don’t have issues with her choice. She’s a strong person who goes after what she wants with persistence and determination.
What are you going to do next? Will you continue with the Twilight universe?
I think I need a break from vampires. At this exact point in time, I don’t feel like I will go back to Forks. However, I also don’t feel comfortable with telling people what I had planned for further novels. Maybe part of me is protecting those secrets because I’m not ready to leave my vampires behind. Or maybe it’s just habit from five years of compulsory secrecy. I’m sure it will be a while before I figure out which one is the real reason. Things will probably be clearer after I’ve been away from the stories for a while.
I really enjoyed working on The Host, doing something totally different, and I’d like to have that experience again of starting a new world from scratch. I have several other stories that I’ve been waiting to work on. At this moment, I’m torn between two, but I’m planning to commit to one of them very soon.