Personal Correspondence #10

These are questions and answers taken off of the message boards as well as a few that came from my own e-mails with Stephenie.  I’ve also added the few questions that Stephenie could answer from our "ask Stephenie" thread. 

Q.  Are the Volturi the whole group, or does that name only apply to Marcus, Aro, and Caius?

A.  The Volturi are just Aro, Marcus, Caius, and two females who never go out.  There were six of them originally, but Marcus lost his mate in a battle.  That loss, over the centuries, turned him into the apathetic zombie he is today.  The guard are not technically Volturi, though the name still applies loosely.

Q.  Can you tell us more about them?

A.  Aro is freakishly curious. He keeps the histories, and new stories are one of his favorite things.

Marcus’s gift is actually quite valuable in the hands of someone who knows how to use it (coughArocough). For example, imagine Marcus on the battle field. He sees the binding ties between the enemy the guard faces. He can tell who the leader is just by watching the way the others are tied to him or her. He can see how to destroy the resistance simply by picking off a few key people. He doesn’t just see romantic relationships, but also ties of family and friends, loyalty and devotion. He can tell if any given person would die for another. Off the field of battle (as the Volturi rarely leave their home), Marcus’s gift is valuable politically (for lack of a better word). It’s an amazing gift in a diplomatic situation. Plus, when you’re sitting on an empire, it’s nice to be able to see when someone’s loyalty starts wavering. Or if anyone is getting too fond of anyone else. Can you see the potential now? Marcus didn’t get where he is with some fluff skill.

Q.  Are Jane and Alec related?  How did they join the Volturi?

A.  Alec is Jane’s twin brother. (I will not tell you what his gift is, only that it is more potent in battle than hers. He is one of the main reasons that the Volturi guard is invincible.)  They were burned at the stake for witchcraft when Aro stepped in.  (By "stepped in" I mean "slaughtered the whole village," of course).  Aro already had his eye on these two, but he wanted to let them age before he took them.  The villagers forced his hand, which sort of pissed him off.  The shape Jane’s talent took was influenced by the fire she endured before Aro saved her. 

Q.  If Bella is immune to vampire powers, why can Jasper and Alice use their talents on her?

A.  Bella has a very private MIND. No one can touch her there. What Jane does is entirely illusion–you only THINK you’re feeling pain. What Aro does is like what Edward does–he gets inside your head.

What Jasper does effects not the thoughts, but the body. He doesn’t make you THINK you are calm, he actually puts your body into a calmed state. Or angry, or whatever. It’s physical rather than mental. Alice sees the outcome of Bella’s decisions, because those outcomes happen in the real world, not just inside Bella’s head.

Q.  When is Jacob’s birthday?

A.  I don’t know Jacob’s birthday for sure.  I’ve never assigned one.  Sometime during Bella’s zombie period, though.

Q.  On one thread you said that Carlisle & Esme have a spiritual relationship, Rosalie & Emmett were physical, and Alice & Jasper were mythical. I was wondering about Bella’s and Edward’s relationship, what is theirs?

A.  Before I answer this, I want to say that the traits I assigned to the Cullen couples were not to be understood as totally definitive; these characteristics, spiritual, physical and mythical, were merely the most prominent facet of each relationship—other facets are still quite strong with each.  For example, though Carlisle and Esme have a very strong spiritual and intellectual link, they also are quite attracted to each other physically.  The same goes for the others.

As far as Bella and Edward, I see their relationship as being fairly well balanced between all the facets.  Obviously the physical attraction is strong, as is the intellectual interest.  Like Alice and Jasper, their pairing feels very fated.  In some ways, they are perfectly designed for each other. 
Q. How could Rosalie underestimate Edward’s feelings for Bella so badly? What made her think that Edward would just go back to normal once Bella was dead? Especially since he had been already completely miserable when the two were just separated. Is she really that unobservant? Or is there more to it?

A.  Rosalie is an egocentric person.  One of the side effects of being born more beautiful than anyone else.  Though she has her good qualities—loyalty, determination, self-discipline, and a very strong bond to her adoptive family—these qualities are often overshadowed by her self-absorption.  She prefers to see Edward’s fascination with Bella as a strange quirk—and a transitory one at that.  Because to Rosalie, of course, the main love story going on here is hers and Emmett’s.  How could anyone else feel the same?  Especially about some plain-jane human girl who Edward doesn’t even want to make immortal? 

Ah, we’re getting deep into Rosalie’s well of denial now!  See, Rosalie wanted Emmett, so she forced an unwilling Carlisle to change him.  It turns into true love, and Rosalie has the staring role in the happily-ever-after-romance. 

And then Edward falls for a human, and he insists on keeping her human.  (Of course it’s different, since Emmett was bleeding to death, but, still) Rosalie can take this one of two ways.  One: Edward doesn’t love this girl all that much.  Two: he loves her more than Rosalie ever loved Emmett.  Which way do you think Rosalie would prefer to look at it?
Q. Where do you get your inspiration for your writing?  For example – the pain Bella feels at losing Edward is so very real.  What sort of experiences do you draw from to describe those types of emotions?  How did you develop such diverse personalities?

A.  This is a tricky question for me to answer; I know that a lot of the people who read my books would like to write their own books, and I want to be as helpful to those writers as possibly.  This is one of those areas where I can’t be super helpful, because I don’t have a process to be learned from or imitated.  The original inspiration I had, the dream that spawned Twilight, was hardly something I invited or controlled.  After that unconscious beginning, pretty much every thing just came to me in a very effortless and natural way.  Characters, particularly, seem to spring to life for me, fully rounded and completely intriguing (to me, anyway) from conception.  I don’t brainstorm for characters, I don’t write out lists of characteristics to flesh them out, I don’t look for real life people to base them on.  I’m not knocking those methods at all—I know they work quite well for many authors—but I don’t use them personally.  I do let my characters talk to me, and I listen to them.  Many of my stories have ranged out of control because I let my characters do what they want, rather than what I wanted.  Maybe they wouldn’t be so alive if I kept them under control.

Again, I have an unhelpful answer when it comes to the other question—where in my personal history do I draw from to create the emotions in my stories?  I have never suffered a heartbreak like Bella’s.  Nothing close.  The few times I had my heart stepped on, I was not devastated, nor was I melodramatic.  Life went on, and I went with it.  I was very practical about my rejections, and I was well aware that it was never true love that I was losing.  So where does Bella’s pain come from?  It comes from her.  Even if I had experienced the loss of a true love, I know that my reaction would not have been like Bella’s.  She is a much less cynical person, much more open—to both pain and joy.  When writing New Moon, at first I didn’t know how she would respond to having her true love taken from her.  I was honestly surprised by the way she chose to cope with it.

I’m sorry, because I know that none of that helps a budding author.  I guess all I can say is, try to believe in your characters.  Let them live, and try to listen to them.  Let them shape your stories around their true character, rather than trying to shove their character unnaturally into your story.
Q. How did Jasper and Alice fall in love?  Was it love at first sight?  They seem so different from each other, what was it that drew them to each other?  Any information about their relationship would be great!

A.  Eclipse will answer this question to an extent.  When that information is available, it will be easier to discuss Jasper’s and Alice’s relationship.
Q. What happened to Jacob’s mother?

A.  She died in an uneventful way.  I haven’t decided exactly how because there’s never been a need to set it in stone for the story (not everything is determined, despite what some think.  I leave many details open until I have a reason to fix them a certain way).  I only know that there wasn’t any mystery or unnecessary drama about Sarah’s death.  It was, of course, a very sad thing in Billy’s, Jacob’s, Rachel’s, and Rebecca’s lives (and one reason why the twin sisters are more comfortable away from the sad memories of their home).  However, Jacob was young and he is naturally resilient.  He recovered well.
Q. Does a vampire’s skin heal?  And if so, then why do the Volturi have such brittle looking skin?

A.  The first question will be discussed in book three; the second question will be discussed in book four. 

Q.  . Why did the Cullens, particularly Alice and even Carlisle, ever agree to move on from Forks and go along with Edward’s irrational plan to leave Bella for her own good? Can you share with us some of the conversation that must have gone on at the Cullen household the night after Bella’s birthday party disaster?

A.  I’m not going to write this scene out for you, but I’ll give you the gist.

When it comes to Bella, it’s all entirely Edward’s decision.  It’s his life, and his love, and his choice.  The others don’t have a say in how he chooses to handle it anymore than your brothers and sisters can tell you who to fall in love with and how to go about it.  Carlisle plays the role of the father in the Cullen family, and Edward respects his opinions greatly, but Carlisle does not give Edward permission to do things.  Edward is an adult with a century of wisdom under his belt.  No one gives him permission to do anything.

Of course, Carlisle had a very intense conversation with Edward about his decision, but it was Edward’s decision alone.  And Carlisle, already tormented by whether or not it was an evil thing to create his family, could hardly argue with Edward’s motivations.  If there is one thing Carlisle values, it is the human soul.

It did affect the rest of them, of course, in that they all had to relocate, but Edward has relocated for all of the rest of them many times (particularly Emmett).  It’s never been his fault when they’ve had to move in the past.  They owe him.  Big time.

Alice wasn’t thrilled with the plan, but she doesn’t live in the same world as you and I.  She considered Edward’s effort a wasted attempt, but one that would turn out okay in the end.  She couldn’t see a future where Edward didn’t eventually cave and end up with Bella.  Not until she saw Bella throw herself off a cliff.
Q. Do the “younger”  looking Cullens ever resent being made to act so young?  It seems that going through school over and over again is a real bore for them, so I have to wonder if they might resent some of the limitations imposed on them because of their supposed ages.  Is this something that Carlisle , with all of his compassion, ever took into consideration when he decided to change teenagers in to vampires?

A. Carlisle didn’t change all that many teenagers into vampires.  One seventeen year old, one eighteen year old (which was further past the age of adulthood in the early 1900s than it is now), one twenty year old, and one twenty-six year old. 

Carlisle wasn’t considering age too intently, as each of these decisions was spur-of-the-moment as well as life-or-death.  After Rosalie, he wasn’t going to change anyone else.  But when Rosalie begged for Emmett, he gave in, hoping that she would find some happiness with her choice.  It worked out in a stellar fashion.

Now to the point:  The younger-looking Cullens do not resent being MADE to act young, because no one makes them do anything.  It is a group choice to try to stay in a settled home for as long as possible.  They are free to choose whatever age they like, but they want to make the most of their time, so they start young. 
Q.  The following is information Stephenie shared with me for me to use on my short fan fic written from Charlie’s PoV

A.  In my world, Charlie doesn’t really have negative feelings toward Phil.  Phil is not the first man Renee has been with since they split up, but he is sort of the best.  Charlie and Bella are both relieved that Phil is the one Renee married in the end

The fact that Charlie didn’t follow Renee when she left was about so much more than a job.  Charlie’s parents were both still alive, but just barely, when he and Renee met.  He was responsible for caring for them.  He didn’t choose Forks, he chose his responsibility to his sick parents

Charlie didn’t have this much choice over her leaving.  He didn’t LET her go.  She stormed out one night just as Bella did in the end of Twilight.  His choice was to follow after her, but he couldn’t leave his parents, he was very dutiful about his job, and his pride was injured.  He stayed, and by the time Geoffrey and Helen Swan had died (within a year of each other) Renee had moved on so far it didn’t seem like there was a point to following then.

Renee and Charlie get along well.

Renee’s hallmark mental state is bewilderment.

Charlie’s vocabulary is a little bit less formal and erudite than Bella’s.  He’s a more plain-spoken person.