Stephenie Meyer talks 'Bree Tanner'
Eclipse, the hotly anticipated third movie in the series featuring the steamy lovers, vampire Edward Cullen (played by heartthrob Robert Pattinson) and teenager Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), opens June 30. But first comes The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella , an offshoot of the Eclipse novel, to be released Friday at 12:01 a.m. It tells the story of what it's like to be a newly created vampire.
"I had always wished people could read Bree's story before the movie came out," Meyer writes in remarks released today exclusively to Meyer's international publishers and only to USA TODAY in the USA.
Bree, who appears in just 10 pages of Eclipse, is played in the movie by Canadian Jodelle Ferland. The teenager is part of an army of newborn vampires created by Edward's archnemesis Victoria, who plans to use the newbie blood drinkers to exact revenge on Edward and Bella. Bree is the only newbie mentioned by name in Eclipse. She dies in the novel as well as the novella — an emotional event for Meyer.
"It was harder for me to kill Bree than any other fiction character I've ever killed," she writes, "even though I was killing her for the second time." The novella's plot is secret, but we know that it gives a new perspective on events that take place in the saga. All four novels —Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn— are told from Bella's perspective. The novella is told through Bree's eyes and plot points are included in the Eclipse film. Director David Slade, screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg and some of the actors had access to the novella during production.
Q: Bree only appears in a couple pages of Eclipse. What was it about the character that made you want to explore her story further?
A: In the beginning, I wasn't fascinated specifically by Bree — it was the newborns in general. While I was writing Eclipse, there was a lot going on behind the scenes, of course, things Bella didn't know about. Because I was focused on Bella, I couldn't delve too deeply into the newborns' story, however, there was always in my mind a general idea of what they were up to. I had to think about that while I was pacing the plot: Bella is at this point, the newborns are doing this. To keep it all straight, eventually I made a calendar of the months of May and June — which is all Eclipse deals with — and wrote down on each square what was going on with Bella that day and what was happening in Seattle. So the story of the newborns was always a big part of the story of Eclipse. And it made me kind of sad that there was no way to express any of that in the book.
Bree is the only newborn mentioned by name in Eclipse, the only newborn who has contact with the Cullens (aside from being killed by them), and the only newborn who encounters the Volturi in the clearing. She lives the longest, so she is the narrator who can tell the full story. She was a natural choice to chronicle the story of the newborns. Once I started writing from her perspective, she really came alive. So much so that, as the inevitable end got closer, it was really depressing going ahead. It was harder for me to kill Bree than any other fiction character I've ever killed, even though I was killing her for the second time. (Before Bree, the saddest was Walter in The Host.)
Q: Why do you feel it is important for people to read Bree's story prior to the release of the Eclipse movie?
A: Eclipse is told from only Bella's perspective. That has some limitations; when there is so much going on off-stage (so to speak), it leaves a lot of mysteries. The films have the advantage of seeing the story from outside of Bella's head. The viewer can see things — like the wolves hunting Victoria in New Moon— that the reader only gets hints of. Of all the Twilight books, Eclipse has the most going on outside of Bella's view. For the movie to work, we have to see and understand some of these things.
Knowing that elements of Bree's story were being incorporated into the movie, I hoped the story could somehow get out first. Personally, I always want to read a book before seeing the movie. I like to make my own mental pictures before someone else's picture intrudes. Probably most of my readers don't have the same hang-up, but for those who do, I wanted to give them the chance to create their own mental pictures of Bree and the gang.
Q: In which order would you recommend one read The Twilight Saga with the addition of The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner? Should they follow Eclipse with the novella or finish Breaking Dawn before cracking the pages of The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner?
A: If I were going to read the saga for the first time, I would probably read Bella's story straight through before launching into other perspectives.
Q: Why did you choose the American Red Cross as your recipient charity for donations from the sale of The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner?
A: I was very moved by the outpouring of support after the disaster in Haiti. A lot of Twilight fan communities did fundraising effort, and I was so impressed by their efforts. I wanted to continue that movement. I think it's important that we not quickly forget Haiti and Chile now that they're no longer the focus of the media. It takes a very long time to recover from such devastation and they still need our help.