Fandom Flashback: The Birth of the Lex

Every March we celebrate the Lexicon’s birthday.  There is a reason that we use the whole month as a celebration because it was literally the whole month of March 2006 that changed everything for us.  We’ve posted bits of the story and we talked about it a long time ago in a podcast that someone might remember, but I’ve never written up the whole story.  Until now.  You’re gonna get the whole story from the perspective of a fan (me! Lori Joffs!)  who still can’t believe her luck! (Hopefully this will answer Andrea’s and CatWhit’s question about our history!)

The story of the Lex doesn’t start in March of 2006.  It actually starts years and years before with Dr. Who, Star Wars, and Harry Potter.  You read that right.  You see, Laura and I have been fans of multiple things over the years.  Laura is a die-hard Dr. Who fan as well as a fan of Lord of the Rings and Jane Austen.  I have been a fanatic for all things Star Wars, Star Trek, and Disney for as long as I can remember.  Between the two of us, we have visited and participated in hundreds of websites, chat rooms, blogs, and whatever else the internet provided from time to time.  We watched and we learned.  And then came Harry Potter, which brought us together.

I ran a message board called The Werwewolf Registry along with two other great friends.  It was a small little corner of the internet where we talked about all things pertaining to Remus Lupin and brought him soup after the full moon.  Laura joined us around the time the book Order of the Phoenix came out and the two of us met face to face for the Goblet of Fire movie in November of 2005.  We found we had more in common than we thought and became really good friends.

Just two months later I read Twilight for the first time.  I pestered all of my friends to read the book, but while all of them love fantasy, most of them had no interest in a teen age vampire book written by a Mormon.  To tell the truth, when I first had Twilight described to me, I wasn’t interested either!  While I eventually saw the error of my ways, most of my friends didn’t get it.  Hoping to find ANYONE that understood my obsession with the book, I went on line and found next to nothing.  Honestly.  Saying that now sounds absurd, but there really was so very little relating to Twilight on the internet in early 2006.  Little Brown had a creepy, goth type website that had spooky music playing in the background and was nothing but reviews from readers.  Stephenie had her own website with some out takes and photos from Forks.  I also found two live journals with posts about how much they loved Edward Cullen, but no real discussion.

In early February of 2006, fanfiction.net opened a Twilight section.   There were maybe twenty stories posted when I started posting my own fanfic called “The Lion and the Lamb.”  It was a retelling Twilight from Edward’s perspective.  I got the idea from a small statement on Stephenie’s website about how she rewrote the first chapter from Edward’s perspective as a character study.  I didn’t start with chapter one because I thought that maybe someday Stephenie would release her chapter, and I never wanted my story to be compared to Stephenie Meyer’s version. (Yes, I see the irony.)  I began posting my fanfic and right away knew that I needed something like a lexicon where I could just search for information rather than flip through the book trying to find out what color Jasper’s hair was!  (Seriously, at that time I couldn’t keep Jasper and Emmett separated in my head.  How silly does that sound now?)

It was March 1, 2006 when things changed.   I was chatting with my one internet friend who liked Twilight, Imogen, when I checked my reviews and saw a post from someone claiming to be Stephenie Meyer.  This is what she said:

I’m having a great time reading your vision of things, Alphie–I have to say The Lion and the Lamb is my favorite! I can’t read all of it yet, though, because I’m working on the same project and I don’t want your take to influence mine. I’m in the middle of chapter four of Edward’s version right now (I’m moving slower than you are, but my chapters are quite a bit longer, so that will be my excuse). As soon as I’m done, I’ll be back to read how it happened in your head! Keep up the great work–you’re an excellent writer.”

I was floored!  At first I thought it was a joke, but I looked at the other good fanfiction to see if they had a comment from “Stephenie” and I didn’t find any.  Now, please consider that there were maybe only thirty stories posted at the time and Stephenie wasn’t the mega icon that she is today.  Never-the-less, I was personally dumbfounded that an author who had captivated my imagination enough that I was inspired to write fanfiction had left a comment for me.  I e-mailed her right away just to check.  Here is what I said:

First off, allow me to say that I very nearly crapped my pants at seeing your name in my reviews, so if this is a joke then I’ve been totally had.  But if this isn’t a joke and you really are Stephenie Meyer then I am totally stunned and flattered. 

I would like permission, since I have your ear, to work on a project that would essentially end up being a lexicon of sorts for the Twilight universe.  I’ve noticed with so many of the young authors writing in your world that they tend to get many of the facts wrong.  I would like to set up a place for authors, or just curious readers, to go for a quick reference

 If you oppose the start up of a site like this, then by all means I will not do it.  If you think it would be fun and possibly helpful to your fans, then I would love to take on the responsibility of getting it going.  It’s my belief that your books will soon find a popularity that will leave your head spinning, if it isn’t already there!  I’m glad to be here at the start of the fandom!

It was a little bold of me, I know, but I figured I only had one chance.  Here is what Stephenie wrote back to me:

I would love to see a Twilight lexicon.  I would definitely contribute if there were questions that needed clearing up.  I’ve answered a lot of questions about the mechanics of my own brand of vampire mythology–it would be nice to have all the rules laid out in black and white :) 

Thanks for all your enthusiasm about Twilight (some days I really need that, and this is DEFINITELY one of those days).  I’m awed at your attention to detail and devotion to the story. 

This e-mail brought to my attention the MySpace website run by Nimir-Ra.  I had never heard of MySpace so I didn’t even know to look for it!  But I contacted Nimir-Ra and eventually was able to use some of the information Stephenie posted at that MySpace page on the Lexicon.  I was glad that we were able to do it because that particular MySpace page went off line and some great pieces of information would have been lost.  You can find those in PC 7 and PC9 if you are interested.

Back to the story – I sent a second e-mail to Stephenie with loads of questions.  Her response to me almost in its entirety can be found in PC1.  This all happened in about 3 days.  Over the next few days Stephenie teased me with wanting to share with me her version of Edward’s story and eventually gave me her phone number.  I called her and spent three hours chatting about all kinds of things.  Twilight didn’t even come up until we’d been talking for two hours!  And once we did talk about Twilight I asked her THE question:  will Bella be a vampire?  Would you believe that at that time Stephenie said to me that she didn’t know?!?!?  She knew what would happen if Bella was changed and she knew what would happen if Bella stayed human.  How cool is that?  Then, after that conversation, Stephenie sent me chapter one of “Edward’s Version” as she called it at the time.  All through this I was working on putting the information Stephenie was sending me onto the Lexicon.  It was all very basic.  A few character bios, a few places, and a timeline.  That was about it.

Then on March 10, 2006, Laura called me to say that she had read Twilight!  YEAH!  She had pink eye and was home from work and decided to read it AT LAST! When I told her that I was putting a website together, she was stunned.  When I told her I’d not only spoken to Stephenie Meyer but that she was sending me bit of information that wasn’t in any book, she was speechless!  And because she enjoyed the book as much as I did, Laura wanted in on the website!  I asked her to do the even chapter summaries.  It’s absolutely laughable now to admit that was ALL I asked her to do!  Given how much she does now and how influential she has become to this fandom… all I asked from her was even numbered chaptered summaries.  Talk about a resource going under used!

I sent a link to the Lexicon to Stephenie on March 11, 2006.  It was still very skeletal and it was covered in red leaves at the time (see our fandom flashback logo), but it was a website!  Stephenie had this to say:

It looks incredible, Lori!  W.O.W!!  I need to get an update page together so that I can pimp it out on my site.  I made my husband look (he tries to steer clear of my insanity as much as possible–stupid math head) and he was very impressed.  “How much did you pay for this?” he wanted to know, sounding panicky.  <–high praise from the man.  I told him it was all motivated by love for Twilight, which brought on “the face.”  Heh heh.

Okay, so that was a lame way to tell you how thrilled and impressed I am.  You so get a galley of New Moon–as soon as they send me some.

By the end of March, The Twilight Lexicon was open for public viewing.  We used my fanfiction to promote the website as well as the link Stephenie posted on her website.  Our news at the time was all about updates and what new sections of the site were being posted.  We had only a few visitors in those early months, and I remember celebrating when we hit our 500th visitor.  We even used to have a visitor counter at the bottom of the page!  I think it broke around visitor 432,000.  We opened the message boards soon after the blog opened, which encouraged even more association with Stephenie.  She posted a few times on the Lexicon in those early days.

New Moon was published in September of 2006. We were keeping up with book signings and trying to calm the fandom down after a book where Edward was virtually GONE!  By the time Eclipse was published in August of 2007, we were in the middle of a real fandom.  There was a prom with actors cast to pose as Edward and Jacob, there was a huge “Team” division, and EVERYONE wanted a movie!  The film was eventually cast, Breaking Dawn was published, and the world was experiencing a bona fide phenomenon.  Check out our fandom flashback on the Twilight films for the rest of THAT story!

Over the years we’ve been asked what the secret to running a big website is.  There are so many factors.  The first I can think of is that you can’t build a website thinking that it will be the next big thing.  You build a website because you love the fandom or the book or the movie or whatever!   My first website wasn’t big, but I loved it all the same and it will always hold a special place in my heart.  You also have to do it without any expectation of getting something in return.  Yes, Laura and I have been very blessed with amazing experiences because of this website.  I can’t speak for Laura, but the best things that I’ve gained are the friends that I’ve met and the knowledge I’ve learned.  I put this site up on the net because ~I~ needed a place like this to visit!  It’s a wonderful bonus that other people have found it useful, too!

Some of you did ask questions that I promised to address.  Elizabeth wanted to know about our Café Press shop.  It’s still there!  Believe it or not, there was a time when you couldn’t buy an Edward t-shirt at the mall.  Once upon a time, the café press shop was one of the few places you could get twilight merch.  She also wanted to know what we thought of the many Twilight related books out there.  I have looked at and skimmed most of them.  Honestly, having lived through it the way I did, it’s difficult to want to read MORE about it.  I’m usually interested to find out what the books say about the Lexicon.  I actually laughed out loud when I found my name in a Robert Pattinson biography! As far as Twilight related recommended reading the first thing that comes to mind is The Official Guide!  I’m always surprised to find how many fans haven’t really read all the bios in that book and discovered the little gems of information it contains.  Abby wanted to know how we deal with the controversies.  I assume she’s asking about things like the Victoria recasting or plagiarism scandals or leaked books or film footage.  For the most part, we try to keep our opinion off of the blog and only report the facts as they are presented to us.  Do we have an opinion?  Yes.  But we’ve found that sticking to the facts as best as we can is much more beneficial than letting our feelings get in the way.  Dealing with leaked footage or books is different though.  It’s always been our standpoint to not publish anything that isn’t official.  It’s not fair to the authors or film makers when items are leaked without their permission.  We’ve held that opinion from day one and we still hold that opinion.

However, the most frequently asked question was, what will you do when Twilight is over?  Never fear, this website will be here for a long time yet.  We won’t take it off line, but we probably won’t update things the way we have done in the past.  It will always stand as an archive as sorts.  If Stephenie keeps writing, then we will keep updating.  As far as other things are concerned, Laura has already branched out into other fandoms.  She works closely with Hypable in her original fandom of Dr. Who and for her new obsession, Game of Thrones.  If I could give Laura any gift in the world I would give her a chance to meet and talk to David Tennant or Kit Harington! OR BOTH!  Personally, I’m trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up!  I’m looking at what kind of a career I want for the rest of my life.  I’m still debating various things, but I feel that this experience has opened my eyes to possibilities that I never would have considered a few years back.

We’ve enjoyed all six years we’ve been involved with this fandom.  We’ve loved being on this ride with all of you.  We are flattered that you find our website helpful and informative.  First and foremost, we are fans just like all of you!  The Lexicon is a product of the fans!  We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for your support over all of these years.  Thanks so much for sticking with us.  We’ve still got several big events to cover in 2012, so it’s not over yet!

Come back Wednesday for our first birthday give away!  And yes, Marlene, we give prizes to anyone from anywhere.  If a contest on our website is sponsored by someone else, then it is usually only open only to those in America.  But the contests that we offer from our own stash of prizes is open to anyone!

Also, if you’re interested, our Forkscasts are still on line.  I just listened to the first one and it works!  The first one especially is informative for how Laura got into the fandom!

Comments

  1. Way to go ladies!!

    Thank you for being ~my~ place to go to!!!

    <3 ya

  2. MaleTwilightFan says:

    I found this site a few years ago and bookmarked it ever since. I have always been impressed with the information on here pulled from all of the different sources of clips, interviews, actor’s magazine articles, etc.. I actually used to watch Doctor Who years ago when it was on PBS like when they brought back five of the actors who played the Doctor in one episode. I’ve followed the new series since it’s inception with Christopher Ecclestion. Biilie Piper and Catherine Tate were two of my favorite companions. I really like the way David Tennant was written out by visiting all of the people that were important to him in his life. I am really interested to see how Breaking Dawn Part 2 will play out.

  3. smitten_by_twilight says:

    The last 18 months would have been very different for me without the Lex. TY!

  4. Lori, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my question and consolidate all this info. I absolutely loved reading the history of the Lex! I had tears in my eyes when you talked about Stephenie reading your fanfic and then emailing you! WOW!!! I’m going to look up all of your links above!

    I have to say that I’m always touched and amazed at what a phenomenon and blessing that Twilight has been on the lives of so many people in so many ways – to Stephenie herself, you ladies, all those involved with the movies, and certainly all of the fans. It has certainly effected and changed my life in ways I could never have imagined.

    Keep up the great work! As long as the Lex keeps posting, I’ll be here too – and I’m sure I’m not the only one!

  5. Amanda B. says:

    Great story!!!

  6. Great post!

    And Star Wars rules.

  7. At first I wasn’t interested in reading Twilight either but once I read it I fell in love w/it & the rest is history.

    Congrats ladies on everything! Thanks so much for what you do for us fellow fans.

  8. Elizabeth (EverythingRemindsMeOfTwilight) says:

    Hahaha! Yeah, I guess how I can see that your complete immersion in all things Twilight might leave you not wanting to read more. I, too, am often surprised at how few fans know about the Guide. I met a couple of moms at my daughters’ ballet classes who’d never heard of it. Once they found out they could learn more about Alice, they ran right out and bought it. That also happened when I was at Target getting the Breaking Dawn DVD. The woman hadn’t heard of it and didn’t notice it til I pointed it out. And then bought it. :-)

    I love hearing your stories from the beginning. What an amazing journey! It makes me wish I knew about the books then, but it’s nice that I can enjoy your memories of how it was. Which reminds me, I just found out that O.A.R. had done a song called “Love is Worth the Fall” for the Twilight Movie. Apparently, it wasn’t in the movie and it only showed up on a special edition CD/DVD combo months after the movie came out. When I found it (and bought it) on Amazon this morning, my husband was stunned to learn that there was something I hadn’t known about the first movie. It made me wonder what other little fun tidbits are out there waiting to be discovered. :-)

  9. Michele Dwinell says:

    Thanks so much for all the hard work and effort you’ve put into the Lexicon…it is my “go to” site for anything and everything Twilight! I know I can count on you, and trust you to be completely honest with all you post. What would I have done without you?? (stops breathing here…) It would not be the same without you…sending lots of love and appreciation your way!

  10. McKee21 says:

    Thank you Alphie and Laura. This is the only Twilight inspired website that I belong to. I have been with you guys for at least 3 years. I love your stories you post, all of the news that is going on Twilight. I even have you guys on my homepage; it was listed on Yahoo. How cool is that. I wanted to read true things, not rumors. And you supplied that. I have also told my friends about this website and know they have looked into it. I just wanted to say thank you for doing such a classy piece that even Stephanie has put her name to. That should mean alot to you guys, you did an awesome job. I will be sooooo sad at the end of November 2012 when it is all over. Thank you for the great ride!!!

  11. As with everyone else, thanks Alphie and Laura for your hard work. The Lex has always been my fav spot for Twilight related things, as well as sharing my own Twilight connected adventures, as in Guardians of Luna. You’ve always been so polite and prompt.

    And McKee21… While the Twilight movies might be coming to an end this year… I doubt the Twilight craze will be over for a long long time, so don’t get too sad… I’m sure Stephenie will have something cooking in the oven to surprise us down the road. :)

    • Thanks Joshua!!! :) I loved Stephanie with the Twilight series, but wasn’t too thrilled with the Host. I tried to get into it, but it’s such a different story, couldn’t do it. I hope she comes up with more ;)

  12. How much fun is that!! Thanks for sharing a great tale on the Lex. Thank you! for all your hard work! I love coming to the site just to noodle around and read. The site is on my taskbar, permanently! Love you all!

  13. Jst wondering am living in S.A. Nd hvnt seen the Twilight books in any bookshop I have been too so far cnt U please help with that would like to own some of those books its a story to share with my children in future

  14. Thank you girls, for being so “on the ball” for the billions of Twilight fans out “here”. Laura, from a girl who watched Dr Who in the ’60′s [ in Australia] and thought the [cardboard] Daleks were the scarriest things ever….you have great taste, as does “Dr Who” has had great Writers and Actors since 1963……. However back to Twi… Wouldn’t it be interesting if Stephenie took Midnight Sun to a new perspective and continued it to New Moon and Edward didn’t need saving and therefore didn’t return. So Bella could realise her need/love for Jacob. Ahhhh, the possibilities…..who needs a Renesmee [?].

  15. Dianne S says:

    Thank you so much for all the hard work you put into making the Lexicon such a great site. I’ve only been in the Twilight universe for 18 months (I know, I’m crazy for resisting for so long), but I’m as obsessed as everybody else. You are my go-to-place for all the facts.

    Loved the story on how you began!!

  16. Vampire-girl says:

    Wow thanks so much for sharing I especially found it interesting, as the first I had heard of Twilight was the film being trailered and the dragged my boyfriend to see it. Loved the whole romance side and then he bought me all the books. I was already familiar with Robert Pattinson having seen him in HP and some smaller roles. As well as Kristen Stewart I had seen quite a few of her indie films.
    That’s so great to here how your site started and all the links you’ve provided as well. I check here every day and also like reading twilight fanfiction.
    Even though I like HP I have never read or never will read any of the fanfiction. For me it’s only twilight ones I read.

    Looking forward to seeing the sites future updates as well.

  17. Thanks for answering my question. It was great to read this!

  18. Eternal Love says:

    Wow, I never knew Alphie wrote FanFiction! FF’s been consuming me since the Twilight Saga is almost finished onscreen. FanFiction is the only way I can get supply my addiction to Bella and Edward! YAY for the Lex!

  19. Alina V. says:

    thanks for just being! good job ladies! xd>

  20. Christie says:

    I first discovered Twilight when I bought the first film on dvd one weekend when I didn’t have any plans to go out…it hadn’t been recommended to me, I was completely unaware of the hype or the massive fan base it had, I had just seen the trailer on tv, thought that looks like the sort of thing I’d like and got it from the supermarket… I completely fell in love with the film and watched it each night until the books I had immediately ordered online were delivered. After reading one book after the other in the space of a week I was desperate for more and that is when I found the Lex. This was in 2008 and ever since then the Lex has been my go to site for all things Twilight… I think what makes the site so good is that it is so obvious that you are doing it because you are fans who love the stories, not because your trying to gain anything on the back of the success of them. I loved reading this story of how it all started and it makes me wish I could have been there from the start! Its an amazing story and congratulations on all your success with the Lex and I hope all your future projects are just as successful!!

  21. Kea Haynes says:

    Loved the flashback! Can I say WOW as a huge fangurl of Twilight and HP I am not shocked that dedicated female fans were able to bring such a terrific resource to the net! I loved the fact that you started with fanfic! I never want a good story to end and love stalking fanfic sites! Thanks to both Alphie and Laura for all of the hard work you have done over the years, thank you for the updates, stories, inside sneak peaks, and the endless emotional support for all of us fangurls who worship Steph and Twilight loud and proud! Happy birthday Lexicon!!

  22. wow, I loved your story and I think the main lesson in not giving up, if Meyer had not started with the simple act of writing a dream, now would not know the world famous twilight saga, so likewise you, if they had not begun by make a small website for a small group of fans then, now people like me, we would have no where to turn when we need accurate information of twilight, it all starts with little things that end up being huge later global phenomena.

  23. wow, I loved your story and I think the main lesson in not giving up, if Meyer had not started with the simple act of writing a dream, now would not know the world famous twilight saga, so likewise you, if they had not begun by make a small website for a small group of fans then, now people like me, we would have no where to turn when we need accurate information of twilight, it all starts with little things that end up being huge later global phenomena.
    gracias deperte de todas las fans mexicanas

    • Janine L. says:

      First off – Happy Anniversary! For me, the Twilight Lexicon is THE definitive resource for fans (and anyone seeking knowledge of the Twilight Saga). I thoroughly enjoyed reading the flashback history of the lexicon, and feeling the sincere enthusiasm that still inspires those who’ve worked so diligently over these last 6 years to compile this material. Something I learned, or rather, found out that I hadn’t known previously, was how it all came about with Stephanie first posting and then corresponding way back then at the very beginning. So cool! I’d have been stunned and flattered to to have the actual author of something I admire write directly to me themself. It would be awesome to win this autographed book! Even though “Twilight” is waning, it’s heartening to know the Lexicon will always be there for current fans and those who’ve yet to discover this amazing book series. Thank you for all you’ve given us.

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