In the summer of 2008 I was contacted by the fabulous Joe Monti. At the time he was with Little, Brown (and now he's an agent with Barry Goldblatt Literary - go team!). Stephenie Meyer, her editor Megan Tingley, and the Little, Brown team were working on a guide to the Twilight Saga and wanted to include an interview with Stephenie. She'd already done scads of interviews, so they wanted to make this one a little different. They asked me to interview her because we have a lot in common--writers of both young adult and adult fiction, enthusiastic readers, women, and mothers. And probably because Stephenie and I love each other with a deep, abiding passion mixed with a dose of giddy, preteen giddy affection. Stephenie hates being the center of attention, but conversing with a friend is easier than being interviewed by a reporter. I said I'd love to, but when I understood how in depth they wanted us to get, I was hesitant to do it over the phone. I have Distracted Hearing Disorder and sometimes have a hard time catching everything said on phone call.
"Can we do it in person?" I asked.
"Sure," said Joe.
Wahoo! And I was on a plane to Arizona. I have spent the majority of the past year house-bound with pregnancy nausea, beached whale-like on a couch with a huge belly, or on the floor entertaining twin babies. It's strange to remember there was ever another time. I guess life's like that. Sometimes you're a shut-in. And other times Siegfried and Roy invite you up on their Vegas stage to pet a white tiger and send you home with a gift certificate to a steak house.
Anyhoo, off I went. We sat down, turned on the audio recorder, and talked for three hours. It was so fabulous. Really, really wonderful. How fun to lounge on the couch and chat, and play with my pet monkey Shimsham who came along for the trip. There's something magical about getting to talk to someone in depth about their profession and their passion. Stephenie is smart, clever, kind, generous, and just a great person to be around. It's fun to compare processes, to see how much we have in common as writers and women, and also see where we differ. I'd prepared for the interview with lists of questions and topics I thought we could discuss, with the freedom to pursue any topic that seemed interesting or relevant. What a luxury! This was not meant to be a "Who was Embry's father?" kind of interview. It was a conversation.
It was a little tricky, because it wasn't a traditional interview with an anonymous interviewer; neither was it a private conversation between friends. There would be an audience, and one that was most likely greatly interested in her, and probably not at all in me. In one way, I wanted to just keep firing questions and get out of her way. But I knew that wasn't what her publisher wanted. Naturally the greater focus was on Stephenie and her books. But hopefully by comparing and contrasting our various experiences as writers and readers and moms, her fans could come to a more intimate understanding of what makes Stephenie unique.
While Stephenie and I are friends and so had conversed many other times, I'd never just sat down with her like that, focusing on her works, getting to be a fan as well as a friend. Throughout the entire thing, I kept thinking, I am just enjoying this so much. I can see the appeal of Barbara Walters's line of work. What an honor it would be to sit down for three hours of open-hearted conversation with most anyone, ask about the person's life, their passion, hear about what they love and why and how they do what they do. I don't mean famous people. Just anyone. In regular conversation, we are often distracted, and the focus isn't on one person but all over the place. It's cool to get to focus on just that one person and really listen. You know, maybe I'll do it. Maybe I'll start with my own family. Set aside a couple of hours, sit down with my full attention, and interview them. No agenda. Just to listen and love. Where on earth will I find a couple of hours? Regardless, I'm setting a goal. I'll interview two family members this year, one way or another.
If that tempts you, why not give it a go too? At the end of the year, I'll do a blog post about the results of my interviews, and I'd love to hear in the comments how yours went. The 2011 Interview Challenge is on!
I just made up this term. This disorder does not exist. Do not self-medicate. But I really do have a hard time isolating sounds. I can't understand what's said on TV if people are talking in the room, either. My siblings are this way too. Anyone else?
This hasn't happened to me, to anyone I know, or anyone at all ever probably, but it sounds fun, doesn't it? I like tigers. I like steak too. But I wouldn't eat a steak in front of a tiger. You know, just in case.
I do not have a monkey. There is no monkey. I made that detail up entirely. I just thought the narrative at this point could benefit from a monkey and so I took creative license. You see, this is why I do not write non-fiction.
Confession: I do not care about the identity of Embry's father.
I do not forward anything to Stephenie, including messages, gifts, pets, invitations, pirate treasure, or pleas to finish Midnight Sun. Sorry. Prayers and well wishes will get to her on their own. One reason I haven't mentioned her on my blog in years is because the last time I did I was inundated with both loving requests and hate mail.
Please don't use the comments to say unkind things about my friend. You don't have to like her books or anyone's books, but I aim to keep this blog a place where we respect each other as human beings.
You know, I hesitated for some time before posting this. Some will judge me because they have opinions about the Twilight Saga and think I should be on their side. Some Stephenie Meyer fans are possessive of her and have let me know that they resent that I know her or get to talk to her. But then it annoys me that I would ever hesitate to talk about a friend.