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Forks celebrates Stephenie Meyer Day on September 13, 2007.

HistoryLink.org Essay 8396 : Printer-Friendly Format

On September 13, 2007, Forks celebrates Stephenie Meyer Day. The Forks City Council adopted a resolution proclaiming the day in honor of the author whose vampire novels set in Forks are a teen phenomenon, drawing visitors to the remote Olympic Peninsula town from as far away as Europe. September 13 was chosen to celebrate the books' author because it is the character Bella's birthday.  

Vampires and Werewolves   

The young-adult books -- Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse, with a fourth on the way and a movie planned for 2008 -- feature high-school-aged Bella Swan and her "vegetarian" vampire boyfriend Edward Cullen pursuing their smoldering but chaste romance in a dark and rainy Forks and its surrounding forests. The Quileute Indians and their town of La Push on the Pacific Ocean are also prominent, notably Bella's friend-turned-protector-werewolf Jacob Black.

Meyer started writing the first book in 2003 and "knew [she] needed someplace ridiculously rainy" as a setting (Meyer website). Enter Forks and its average of 120-plus inches of rain a year. "It couldn't have been more perfect if I had named it myself," she says on her website. Meyer only visited the area after she finished writing, finding the likeness to her imagined world "surreal" and "uncanny."  

The books have skyrocketed in popularity, being published in countries from China to the Czech Republic and becoming New York Times children's books bestsellers, outselling the Harry Potter series in the last week of November 2007.

Twilight Tourists 

Given the vampire books' appeal, Forks unexpectedly found itself a destination for hundreds of fans, called "Twilight tourists" (Bingham interview). They visit the Forks High School that Bella and Edward attend, roam the town looking for the fictional houses where the characters might live, camp out at the beaches near La Push, and even snap pictures of city hall because it's where Bella's father would work as the town's police chief.  

For Forks, known primarily as a logging town that has suffered through declining timber harvest from area forests since the 1990s, the Twilight attention brings with it a different image. When Meyer first visited Forks she was surprised by how evident the logging presence was, "with gigantic log haulers barreling down the wet highway" (Meyer website) -- only a fraction of the constant log trucks that once made crossing the street in downtown Forks difficult. Logging plays no part in her books, nor in fan site message-board conversations that ask questions like "If you could spend one day in Forks, what would you do?" (Twilight Lexicon website).  

Twilight Points of Interest

The Forks Visitor Information Center run by the town's chamber of commerce hands out Twilight packets complete with beach sand and a trivia test, and the chamber website includes "Twilight Points of Interest" with maps of locations featured in the books. Quileute tribal member Anita Wheeler, who works at the visitor center, relates the tribe's history and legends to fans of the series -- the werewolf motif in the books finds resonance  in the tribe's origin story describing wolves as Quileute ancestors. Also on hand are magazines and promotional mail addressed to Bella Swan and Bella Cullen, both names having found their way onto junk-mail lists. Visitor center staff are hopeful that some of the planned movie will be filmed in the area -- a film crew visited various locations in 2007, including La Push, the Forks High School, and the 1916 Peterson farmhouse, now home to the Miller Tree Inn bed and breakfast. "We're really having fun with it," Mayor Nedra Reed said of the books (Rose).

Meyer came to Forks in the summer of 2006 on a book tour and read at the town's Tillicum Park, where library branch manager Theresa Osborne presented the author with a library card, joking about the first book's description of the library's offerings as scant (Meyer had not visited the library before writing). "It really warms my heart to see so many people, especially young people, so excited about a book," Osborne said (Rose). 

Sources:
Stephenie Meyer, Twilight (New York: Little, Brown Young Readers, 2005), New Moon (New York: Little, Brown Young Readers, 2006), and Eclipse (New York: Little, Brown Young Readers, 2007); Elizabeth Arnold, "Saving the Spotted Owl: Benefits of Recovery Effort Remain Complex, Controversial," NPR Morning Edition, August 5, 2004 (http://www.npr.org); Chris Cook, "Special 'Twilight' Day Planned for Sept. 13," Forks Forum accessed November 5, 2007 (http://www.forksforum.com); Carole Rose, "Forks' Moment in the Sun," Ibid., July 26, 2006, p. 8; Vanessa Renée Casavant, "Twilight Time in Forks," Peninsula Daily News, July 23, 2006, pp. A-1, A-8; Paige Dickerson, "Popular Novel Has Teens Flocking to Forks," Ibid., August 7, 2007, pp. A-1, A-5; Cecelia Goodnow, "Stephenie Meyer's Forks-Based Saga of Teen Vampire Love Is Now a Global Hit," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 6, 2007 (http://seattlepi.nwsource.com); "Children's Books," The New York Times, November 25, 2007 (http://www.nytimes.com); "Twilight  --  Forks," Stephenie Meyer website accessed November 5, 2007 (http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/twilight_forks.html); Twilight Lexicon website message boards accessed November 5, 2007 (http://www.twilightlexicon.com/forum); Julie Van Pelt interviews with Marcia Bingham, Forks, November 13, 2007, and with Bill and Susan Brager, Forks, November 12-16, 2007.


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Forks Visitors Center sign welcoming Twilight fans, November 15, 2007
HistoryLink.org photo by Julie Van Pelt


Sign at Forks Visitors Center welcoming fans of Twilight vampire books, Forks, November 15, 2007
HistoryLink.org photo by Julie Van Pelt


Olympic Loop Highway near Forks, n.d.
Courtesy Forks Timber Museum


Main intersection, downtown Forks, November 13, 2007
HistoryLink.org photo by Julie Van Pelt


Twilight cover, 2005
Courtesy Little, Brown and Co.


 
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