Stephenie Meyer might be responsible for your teen's obsession with vampires—not to mention the whole KStew and RPatz phenomenon—but her latest project, a movie she produced called Austenland starring Keri Russell, is about another obsession entirely: Jane Austen.
Based on the novel of the same name by Shannon Hale, Austenland the movie—hitting theaters Aug. 16—is a romantic comedy about a single thirtysomething woman (Russell) who's obsessed with the early 19th-century writer, and spends her life savings on a trip to an Austen-themed English resort to, hopefully, find love.
"I did this because when I read Austenland in an early format—Shannon sent me the manuscript—I wanted to go to there!" Meyer says. "I wanted it to be real."
We caught up with the mom of three boys, who told mom.me about her new film, why her son changed his name temporarily (hint: Let's just say teen embarrassment extends to kids of famous writers, too) and what advice she'd give busy moms who want to unleash their own inner Austen—or Meyer, for that matter.
How was it working on a smaller movie like Austenland, versus Twilight, which came with all of these expectations?
[Austenland] is not my story, which was super freeing for me, because there are a lot of [Twilight] fans, and I was reading what they were saying, and I was involved with what they wanted, and so there was a lot of pressure. If we happened to cast someone who was blonde, it doesn't change Bella, but they needed it to be exact. So I felt a lot of pressure to keep it very similar.
So to just be able to not worry about that was nice. The intro—how you get into Austenland— changes from the novel, and it was nice to be able to do that. It suited the movie better. It made more sense in the script, and not to have that be a big huge issue was just easy.
You wrote Twilight as a stay-at-home mom. How did you find the time?
I wrote this 10 years ago this last summer, and my kids were babies. You just don't have a lot of adult conversations at that stage of your life, and I needed the mental escape badly. And it just found a place to live in my imagination.
I did a lot of not sleeping. I did a lot of it at night. I wrote most of it after everybody else was asleep, and then I did a lot of revision during the day while holding my kids.
You have two teen boys (and one tween). Are you starting to think about college?
Teenagers are supposed to be really, really awful so you want them to leave, you want to kick them out of the house. My son is the sweetest boy. For a 16-year-old boy, he loves his mom. Every time he sees me, he gives me a big hug, and it's just like, "I don't want you to go away."
They still don't talk very much when they turn into teenagers. They kind of stop talking about things. "How was school?" "Horrible." "What was horrible about it?" "Everything." "What was the best thing about it?" "Coming home." That kind of thing.
Now that your boys are older, do you ask for their advice on your projects—or do they offer their advice?
No, I haven't. You know, they're really not into it. I think they've purposefully—I mean, they're all boys, and I do very girly things—I think they kind of distance themselves from it. They get a little flack at school. It kills me. My middle son—he told everyone his name was Bernard for a while because he didn't want anyone to know who he was. They tease him a little bit, "Your mom—it's the kissy books."
Which books do they love?
Each of them discovered the book series that really opened up books for them, which I love. Rick Riordon [author of the Percy Jackson series] did it for my oldest one, and I still feel like I owe him a really great gift basket, because that kid did not want to read. And he wouldn't touch Harry Potter.
The middle one loved [Harry Potter]. He carries his wand around with him. He has the school robes. And the youngest, it's Artemis Fowl, because the youngest may be an evil genius.
Now that you have your production company Fickle Fish Films, are you planning to write anymore, or focus more on movies?
I'd like to get back to writing. It hasn't been as easy as I thought it'd be. When it doesn't feel right, it doesn't feel right. Maybe it's because I'm reading and editing scripts and all that, which is a different form of creativity. It takes longer than writing does. It's just a different part of your brain that you use, and I'm just enjoying that process.
Do you have any advice for moms who think they might have a book in them?
To do it. I don't know why people hesitate because if it's horrible, you still get the fun of writing it, and then you can just keep it and read it yourself. And then if you write it, and you love it, and you enjoy it, maybe it's not horrible—and then worry about sending it off and finding other readers and bringing your friends in to edit. But just sit down and write it. If you're writing it and it feels like a chore, maybe it's not for you. But if you're writing and you're loving every second, then keep going.