It's Twilight in America: The Vampire Saga

On the eve of New Moon , the second film in the Twilight series, TIME's Lev Grossman reveals how a Mormon housewife's vampire saga became a universal obsession


Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart) in the Twilight sequel New Moon

The story begins with a dream. It wasn't the Great American Dream — Stephenie Meyer , then a 29-year-old Mormon housewife living in Arizona, wasn't sitting at home trying to figure out how to be the next mega-best-selling author. It was a different kind of dream.

On the morning of June 2, 2003, Meyer woke up with the fading afterimage of a vision in her head, of a young woman and a vampire, talking, in a meadow. She didn't want to forget it, so she wrote it down. Then she kept on writing. Sometimes you have the dream, and sometimes...

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