Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I Am a Vampire

by Julie Coulter Bellon

I feel cold.

I haven’t slept in days.

I am a vampire.

Several months back I started hearing more and more about some books by Stephenie Meyer that everyone seemed to have read. But the second I heard it was a vampire story, I wrote it off. I don’t really enjoy fantasy stuff (there are a few exceptions) but generally, it’s not a genre I read often. Yet, everywhere I went people seemed to be talking about it. Some people absolutely loved Edward, some thought Bella was immature, some thought the second book was sad, others thought the third book in the series was too sensual and I listened with interest to all the discussion, but didn’t feel compelled to read the books themselves.

But that changed.

A few weeks ago I received a gift card to Barnes and Noble so I went to look around and see what they had. After looking for a while, I honestly didn’t see anything that I really wanted to buy. I kept turning the gift card around and around in my hand, waiting for something, some title or cover, to jump out at me. Nothing did. Until I turned a corner and there it was. A very large display of Stephenie Meyer’s vampire series. It was cleverly shaped with all three books, Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse in a large pyramid.

I walked over and picked up Twilight, flipping it over to read the back. All the discussion I’d heard about it rushed through my mind and I thought to myself, I should probably read it so I can join in the discussion next time. Walking to the front with my gift card in hand, I bought it.

It sat on my dresser for two weeks, the hands on the cover holding an apple, as if it were trying to tempt me into reading it.

Then, last Sunday, I was getting ready to lie down for a while and saw the book on my dresser. I’ll just read a bit of Twilight to relax, get sleepy, and have a great Sunday nap, I thought to myself. I opened the book and so began my sojourn. I ended up reading the over 500 page book in one sitting, staying up until 2:30 a.m.

You know what drew me in? It’s silly, but I related to Bella. I know some people thought she wasn't a great character, but we’re introduced to Bella when she is the new girl at school, coming to live with her father after a mother’s remarriage, she’s a little shy, and accident prone. It almost described me to a T. The thing that really drew me in, though, was how Edward reacted to her. The complex emotions were captivating for me. The characterization was compelling, the setting was easy to imagine, the plot was tight and intricate---I loved the book. It surprised me how much I really did love a vampire story. When I got up the next morning, I even went back and re-read my favorite moments. Then I rushed out to buy the sequel, New Moon.

On the way home from purchasing New Moon, my daughter reminded me that New Moon was supposed to be sad and I should just rush through it to get to Eclipse, the third book in the series. I nodded my head. "I’ll keep that in mind," I said, having heard so many different opinions that I was anxious to form my own.

After the children were in bed Monday night, I cracked open the book. I’ll only read a few chapters, I told myself. We have to get up early tomorrow.

I stayed up until 1:30 a.m. and finished the 561 page book. I honestly couldn’t put it down. The author had provided another compelling plot that just seemed to be seamless. I loved the character development in Jake, the relationships that Bella cultivated, and the setting again, was just as good as the plot and characters. I didn’t find it sad, per se, it was balanced and kept me turning pages far past the time I should have closed the book and gone to sleep. Which I didn’t regret until 5 hours later when I staggered down the stairs to join my family for family scripture study. "You look really tired, Mom," the kids said. "Thanks," I mumbled, wishing at that moment that I didn’t need sleep so I could be a happy mom. (Yeah, I think I already mentioned on a blog I’m not a morning person.)

I am apparently a glutton for punishment, though, because I anxiously started the third book in the series, Eclipse, Tuesday afternoon. I ignored my laundry pile, however, I did still make meals for the family. After everyone was in bed, I got uninterrupted reading time and finished that one by 1:00 a.m. I guess after reading the other two books and really enjoying them, I was surprised by my disappointment in the third. In my opinion, the writing wasn’t as tight, there were three long info-dumps on character backgrounds that killed the pacing, and there were some minor curse words introduced as well as some suggestive scenes where Bella does try to initiate physical intimacy with the vampire. The plot felt rushed and wasn’t as well thought out as the other two had been, although I did enjoy the love triangle and the interaction with the werewolves vs. the vampires. I thought the action scenes were well done in all three books, but particularly well done in Eclipse. The one thing that really bothered me, though, and I know it’s nitpicky, but the third book just had more editorial errors that jumped out to an old editor like me and it surprised me that it wasn’t caught before printing. For instance, the misuse of the words vice/vise (as in he had a vice grip, when it should be vise) and the word reign/rein (he reigned in his emotions, when it should be rein). She also used "whiney" and the "ey" threw me, but you can actually spell it that way. Although it looked wrong to me, I learned something new. But still, this book just seemed a little less than the other two had been. I enjoyed it, and am glad to have read it, but it wasn’t on par with the other two. It was just as long, though, and when I looked at the clock, I realized that it was way past my bedtime.

When I again staggered down the steps for family scripture study early the next morning my children rolled their eyes. "Are you done with those books yet, Mom?" they asked.

I nodded and wrapped a blanket around me to guard against the cold I was feeling.

I was cold.

I hadn’t slept. (Hardly)

I’m not a vampire, but I certainly felt a little obsessed by a vampire series. (I read over 1500 pages in two days!) I even went out to Stephenie Meyer’s website and read the chapters that had been cut out and a chapter from Edward’s point of view. Her writing fascinates me. I am anxiously waiting for the next book in the series to come out.

Maybe now I can get some sleep!


At 10/18/2007 1:56 PM, Blogger Jon said...

Based on what I've heard from authors, it sounds like Ms. Meyer may have been under a lot of pressure to get a third book out, with more emphasis on speed than quality. Might explain why it seems more sloppy than the others.

(Note: I haven't read the books.)

I guess all the world needs now is an erotic werewolf mystery romance*. (LDS, of course.)

(* Thanks, Jeff!)

At 10/18/2007 2:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is that what Jeff is writing next? Is that why you're thanking him?

Julie Bellon

At 10/18/2007 3:27 PM, Blogger Michele Holmes said...

Yeah, Julie! THANK YOU for being the one other person (on this blog, anyway) who liked and related to Bella.

At 10/18/2007 7:38 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

I've already blogged extensively about why I didn't like the third book, and I think you touched on a lot of those same things, Julie. I really disliked the triangle (as I feel it helped to invalidate the Edward/Bella relationship) and I just thought the third one was nowhere near as good.

I wonder if she was rushed, only because she has a full year to write, which makes me jealous. I wish I had a year. I'm supposed to do two a year which so far isn't working out so well for me.

At 10/18/2007 7:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sariah, don't kill me, but I need to go back and see what you said about it. I can't remember!

I thought the triangle was one of the best parts of the third book myself because of how Bella's first time of falling in love (with Edward) was a sweep off your feet take your breath away sort of thing, and her relationship with Jake was based on a foundation of friendship and was slow and easy and comfortable. I liked how Meyer juxtaposed the two and gave Bella choices, which helped give her some self-awareness.

I have no idea if she was rushed or not, but you know what it's like when you're a mom---time is precious and writing never comes before kids. I hope book four in the series is a little more thought out, though. She's raised some interesting themes and questions in three that need a satisfying resolution.

Julie Bellon

At 10/18/2007 8:03 PM, Blogger Jon said...

It was part of the class - apparently some agent said it was what they were looking for. =)

I realize now as I re-read my own statement, I could be misinterpreted. I didn't hear that Stephanie Meyer was under time constraints, but rather I hear about other authors under pressure to get a book out, and wondered if that explained her problems.

At 10/18/2007 9:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jon, thanks for clearing that up. With Ms. Meyer's whirlwind PR tour around the world, as well as being a mother, there's no doubt in my mind she probably has time constraints. I think your theory was reasonable,though. I hope she gets around said time constraints for book four though. :)

Seriously? Some agent is looking for that? Wow.

Julie Bellon

At 10/18/2007 9:41 PM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...

The story is part of my class where I talk about learning what agents and editors are looking for. An author who is with my literary agency was at a conference where an editor was asked what she was looking for. her answer, "What the world needs is an erotic werewolf myetery romance.) Her point was that those were the four really hot topics at theat point.

Everyone laughed except for the author on the panel with her. She though, "I actually think I could write that." She did and has a very succesful series with them. ;)

Not my cup of tea. But it pays to reserach what agents and editors are looking for. Just shows I managed to keepJon awake at least some of the time.

At 10/19/2007 12:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said Julie.
The only part I liked in Eclipse is the end when they fight.
Is that bad?

Jeff: I have no idea what you and Jon are talking about.

At 10/19/2007 3:19 PM, Blogger Jon said...

How would you classify those Laurell Hamilton books? I can't remember, are they vampires or werewolves, or both? I heard they started out as mysteries, then became mystery-romances, then got the big E in more recent times. Not my cup of herbal tea, either.

At 10/20/2007 2:35 PM, Anonymous meanaunt said...

Wait, I thought Rob said Jeff was writing vampire romance! I'm so confused! ;>)

At 10/22/2007 2:00 PM, Blogger Julie Wright said...

great post Julie . . . I liked the books too though I am fence post sitter, ready to sway to any side of the debate on her books.

At 10/23/2007 10:47 PM, Blogger Tamra Norton said...

I loved the books too! But I felt a similar let down by Eclipse. Still...I can't wait for book four in the series!

And wow--you read fast!!!


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