Stephenie Meyer, 39, who wrote the teenage vampire-romance series, which inspired the 'Twilight' films, has given an interview to the 'Times' newspaper where she reveals that her own close-knit Mormon family inspired the Cullens - the fiercely protective clan of vampires who abstain from human blood due to ethical concerns.
She says she laughs when people ask if Bella's character in 'Twilight' is based on her childhood: "Bella is an only child who comes from a broken home, and I have this enormous really tight family, and my parents have been together for, like 110 years. But then I realised…. it's the Cullens who are based on my family."
Meyer was born in Connecticut, one of five siblings, and the family relocated to Arizona when she was four. With her religion, her bad complexion, her addiction to reading and her unconventional looks (her Welsh and Danish ancestry means she doesn't tan) it was a tricky childhood.
Her parents worried about the bookishness and her ability to form relationships . But later it made her fortune. One night in June 2003, Meyer, married with children, had a dream of about a high-school girl talking to a "beautiful sparkling man" in a sunlit meadow. The man was Edward Cullen, and he was explaining to the young woman how hard it was for him not to kill her.
Meyer had to write it down.
She admits she feels guilty that the film's stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart have to deal with the forensic scrutiny of the world media. "There are some actors who are looking to be world famous, to be that household name… But that doesn't apply to Kristen and Rob. That's what makes it kind of ironic and tragic."
The Twilight films may now be over but Meyer is preparing for the release of her first post-vampire film, an adaptation of her alien-implant novel, 'The Host', directed by Andrew Niccol ('Gattaca', 'The Truman Show') and starring Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, 18.
'The Host' is released on 29 March.