Smells like teen spirit

I have a confession to make: I thoroughly enjoyed Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight. Before you depart from this blog in disgust and banish me from your Twitter feed, you might like to find out why on earth a 40-year-old mother with a degree in French and a career as a copywriter would enjoy this mass-market novel supposedly aimed at teenagers.

I bought the book because – and I swear this is the truth – having seen the trailer for New Moon (the second book in the saga) on TV, I wanted to know how Stephenie Meyer could describe a boy’s transition from human to wolf in a credible and convincing way. As a writer, I often find myself stumbling over how to describe something so that the reader can visualise exactly what I’m visualising – such as a facial expression or a movement. So it was for this reason that I was keen to have a browse through one of her books. Not to mention that as an author who has become a global success, I was sure there was something I could learn from her.

So when I came across Twilight in a charity shop, I snatched it off the shelf and bought it. ‘For technical reasons,’ I told my husband when he took the book from me and raised his eyebrows.

I had not expected to finish Twilight – but I read it and got sucked (pardon the pun) right in. I forgot all about my technical reasons (she uses the word ‘phasing’ by the way) and just got swept along with the story. I hadn’t realised it was a love story – one with a good hint of Romeo and Juliet about it. And I also hadn’t realised how long it had been since I’d last read a love story.

Twilight took me right back to my teenage years when a holiday romance with a Greek guy turned my sixteen-year-old world upside down. I longed to live in Greece, be part of a Greek family and absorb Greek culture. (Of course it didn’t last, but years later, when I started writing, I imagined what my ex-boyfriend would be like now, and the character of Dimitri in my novel Package Deal was born.)

For a brief period, the Twilight saga enabled me to tap right back into my teenage self. I dug out my old diaries and read pages of angst-riddled mush about my love for ‘Dimitri’. It made me laugh out loud in places, cringe in others. I looked through old photos. (Dimitri had sported a dodgy mullet, but hey, it was the Eighties.) He was my fantasy world while my parents were splitting up, school was a load of old bollocks and there was nowhere to hang out and smoke apart from the bench around the corner.

My trip down memory lane was a strange experience. I was in a bit of a haze for a week or so – revisiting a time that felt like a lifetime ago, and realising I am a long, long way from sixteen. I felt like I was mourning my younger self.

‘Have we got over our mid-life crisis, now Mrs H?’ my husband asked me eventually, holding a charity bag in one hand and my Twilight DVD in the other.

‘What do you mean?’ I asked. The cheek.

‘Well, your 40th birthday is just around the corner and you’ve developed an unhealthy obsession with a pasty-looking 24-year-old actor.’

He had a point. It was time to get back to reality and embrace my forthcoming landmark birthday with courage and optimism.

As for the Twilight saga, I’ve stashed the books away for my daughters to read one day. (And as for the DVD, I sneaked that back out of the charity bag. I’m not quite done with it yet. Technical reasons, naturally.)

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