The publishing world has been abuzz in the past week with news that Stephenie Meyer is releasing a new book in August. Having told the Twilight saga from the point of view of the heroine, she has written a new novel that retells the story from the perspective of the hero.
It is no secret that this project has been in the pipeline for years. Meyer had lost heart in publishing Midnight Sun when the manuscript was leaked on the internet back in 2008, which, she said, was ‘a huge violation of her rights as an author’. Time is a great healer, as they say, and she’s now ready to share this new take on the tale.
This isn’t the first time Stephenie Meyer has revisited her story world after ‘The End’. In 2015, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Twilight’s publication, she released Life and Death, a gender-swapped retelling of Twilight.
And Meyer isn’t alone in returning to a story world. An eagerly anticipated release this month is The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by author Suzanne Collins, which is a prequel to the bestselling Hunger Games series.
I entirely understand this desire to go back. There’s such comfort for an author in an older work; to step back into that world and be with those characters again feels like a reunion with old, beloved friends.
Writer and poet Dorothy Parker famously said, ‘I hate writing, I love having written.’ This sums up how an author may feel about the struggle of a present work and the glowing, golden allure of a past one. The older book stirs such strong emotions; it can whisper to the author, Come back. Revisit me. Let me blossom further.
The truth is, though an author types ‘The End’, it is never really the end in their own heart and mind. The author knows so much more about the characters than the reader ever will. And over time, wisdom and experience may lead the author to new revelations about the original tale. The idea of revisiting the work and casting it in a new light, writing from a new angle, is intriguing.
I would love to return to each of my story worlds. I would love to tell the stories from different angles and perspectives, go back in time and forward, fill gaps, reimagine – dream it all over again. As Diana Gabaldon has done with the Outlander series, I’d love to continue my love stories beyond the traditional end point and follow the characters through their lives, through marrying, having children, building careers, growing old together.
What stops me revisiting my past works? The answer, for me, is quite simple: I have a head full of new ideas that clamour to be written. I have written stories set in Spain and Kenya and France and Italy and the Greek islands, but there are so many more inspiring and beautiful places in the world – like Egypt, the setting for my next novel.
For me, writing is about the thrill of discovery, of seeing where my fiction will take me next and who is waiting for me there. I suppose you could say that those words ‘The End’ don’t deter me; they don’t leave me bereft and eventually pulled back to the story world. For me, there truly is no ‘End’, because I feel there are so many more stories ahead.
Perhaps instead I should end a manuscript with a simple ‘au revoir’, which translates to ‘until we see each other again’…