Interview: ‘Reasoning With Vampires’ Creator Discusses ‘Twilight’ Abuse

Do you have a particular distaste towards vampires in general, or just the ones written by Stephanie Meyers? Have you ever come across a well-spoken vampire in your reading?

The fact that Edward is a vampire is almost irrelevant. VampMeyers are a strange breed. Their vampire characteristics take a backseat to their ridiculous personalities.

Like I said, fantasy isn’t really my genre. I don’t have many vampires in my literary arsenal to compare with VampMeyers. To say nothing of the writing, Charlaine Harris‘ vampires in the Southern Vampire Mysteries are at least an interesting take. Some of them struggle with their latent humanity while others find human issues to be blasé, but they have problems that aren’t magicked away. I appreciate that Harris makes vampires less glamorous by bringing them “out of the coffin” to interact with humans openly. If I can expand my pool of vampires beyond literature, I loved Paul Rubens as Amilyn in the movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Don’t almost all annoying chick-lit books that capture the cultural zeitgeist have an element of trashy, maudlin writing? Why is Twilight especially bad?

Stephenie Meyer is not Dostoyesky, nor is she trying to be. I get that. While I rip Twilight apart, I try to keep in mind what it is. Twilight is a romantic fantasy novel for young adults. Edward is a vampire. These intrinsic characteristics mean that it will be sappy, unrealistic, and the main love interest will be creepy. Even if I give Twilight the elasticity to be those things, it’s still a massive failure. It exceeds the disbelief I’m willing to suspend. The romance is unsupported. Edward is less of a mythical monster and more of a Lifetime movie abusive husband. He doesn’t stalk her because he’s a vampire; he stalks her because he’s obsessed with a girl he likes. Near as I can tell, Bella and Edward fall in love because Meyer wrote that they were in love. In fiction, things are true because authors make them true, but Meyer didn’t take the time to make me care about it. The overt sentimentality of the characters isn’t blooming and moving; it’s just overwrought drivel.

I can’t stand the defenders of Twilight that excuse the poor writing because “Bella is a teenager so it’s written like a teenager would write it.” Screw that noise. Judy Blume managed to write in the voice of a ten-year-old without writing like a child.

Besides the writing style of the books, you actually have a problem with the narrative (Edward is a creepy stalker, Bella needs an intervention, etc.). What would you like to have seen happen in Twilight?
What would I like to have happened in Twilight? Oh man, no good could come from that. I guess I’d like Tyler’s van to succeed in its noble attempt to kill Bella Swan. Then, overcome by the death of his unrealized love, Edward Cullen was driven mad, succumbed to his vampiric nature, killed a lot of people, and then was left to brood about something legitimately worth brooding.

Alternatively, we could retain the love story by rerouting their courtship to be less disturbing. Bella Swan would rebuff his advances, despite her desire to yield to him. Her crush on him would be unable to subvert good sense. Edward would continue to be a creepy bastard, but eventually, he too recognizes his behavior was inappropriate and banishes himself from her company. If he could channel his interest into her by corresponding with her from afar, an epistolary romance could develop based upon mutual respect and shared interests. Twilight would become the story of a supernatural long-distance relationship, and much like people who fall in love online, they get past physical and lifestyle differences. At the end, he could cautiously return, and they would give “going steady” a whirl.

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    • Kristen

      Great interview – this (and the tumblog!) should be something that everyone, especially Twilight fans, should read.
      But as a side-note; it’s highly unprofessional to keep spelling “Stephenie Meyer” incorrectly, Drew. ;)

      • V

        This ought not be taken as an excuse but the spelling mistake of the author’s name is very common considering how closely it resembles the common spelling.

    • sid

      “Bella is a teenager so it’s written like a teenager would write it.”

      Every time I hear this I want to scream. I am a teenager, I love to write and I sure as hell do not write like how Stephenie Meyer writes Bella (assuming she wrote Bella like that strategically, not because she sucks at writing). I happen do be able to proofread, find errors and fix them, unlike Meyer. She’s a poor excuse for an author.

    • sid

      Also, Dana I really appreciate what you are doing and love finding updates on RWV!

    • Nat

      To Kristen: Actually, that is how her name is spelled! She’s named for her father Stephen

      God I love that tumblr

    • Sarah

      I loved the series and I love the characters. I didn’t even pay attention to the writing. That said, I still love what Dana is doing… I think it’s awesome. and hypsterical. And I do NOT know why anyone would have a problem with it. Meyer should know better than to publish a book with that s**t all over it!

    • Kristi

      I’m an English teacher. I find myself wanting to take a red pen to all sorts of things. I get the feeling; I really do. However, when you do this, you need to be sure to spell things correctly.

      “she told me I ought to, which lead to an argument.” It “lead” to an argument? Don’t you mean “led”? (Yeah, yeah, technically quotation marks go outside of end punctuation; I know, but I don’t like it. It’s beginning to change, and I agree with the change) I really hope that’s a simple typo, not a basic misunderstanding of the past tense of “lead”.

      All I’m saying is, if you’re going to attack someone else’s grammar and spelling, you need to make sure yours is beyond reproach.

      (No, I’m not a Twi-hard. As someone who begs teenagers to read on a daily basis, I did like that it made some girls excited about reading. For some of them, it led :) to other books with better prose. For others, it didn’t. For some, it meant that they finished a book for the first time. I can’t fault that. I didn’t like the creepiness, repetitiveness, or lame dialogue, but I sure did like that it got kids reading.)

      • emily

        Did you fail to recognize that Dana did not actually write or edit this article, or…?

    • Irim

      @Kristi: [Yeah, yeah, technically quotation marks go outside of end punctuation; I know, but I don’t like it. It’s beginning to change, and I agree with the change]

      I know you’re an English teacher, but multiple English teachers over my tenure in school – both as a student and as a teacher – have told me that’s not the case. IF you are quoting a line of dialogue or from a text, etc., and it ends in a full stop, THEN the punctuation goes on the inside, which makes sense because the quotation marks set off a unit. E.g.:

      “Stephenie Meyer is not Dostoyesky, nor is she trying to be. I get that. While I rip Twilight apart, I try to keep in mind what it is.”

      That is a unit of dialogue from the above interview, therefore, full stop INSIDE the quotation marks, which are setting it off form the rest of the text.

      On the other hand, if you are putting a word, an idiom or some such in quotation marks, punctuation goes OUTSIDE, as it is simply a descriptor and part of the unit that is the sentence you’re writing. Thus:

      Don’t you mean “led”?

      is absolutely correct, because ‘led’ is NOT a unit of dialogue, it is part of the sentence, which should end in a question mark.

      The whole bs about ‘punctuation marks outside inverted commas all the time’ really pisses me off because they serve multiple functions, and this absolute rule seems to be dumbing down a rich, nuanced language for a generation that can’t cope with context-dependent decisions.


    • Irim

      *setting it off *from* the rest of the text

      Ugh, sorry about that.

    • Kristen

      To Nat: I know that’s how it’s spelled; I’m saying that this article spelled it incorrectly. It’s “Stephenie,” not “Stephanie.”

      And it’s “Meyer,” not “Meyers,” as this article has it.

      I’m not a fan of this author; but she at least deserves to have her named spelled correctly, no?