For Asya Muchnick and Meghan Hibbett
No two writers go about things in exactly the same way. We all are inspired and motivated in different ways; we have our own reasons why some characters stay with us while others disappear into a backlog of neglected files. Personally, I’ve never figured out why some of my characters take on strong lives of their own, but I’m always happy when they do. Those characters are the most effortless to write, and so their stories are usually the ones that get finished.
Bree is one of those characters, and she’s the chief reason why this story is now in your hands, rather than lost in the maze of forgotten folders inside my computer. (The two other reasons are named Diego and Fred.) I started thinking about Bree while I was editing Eclipse . Editing, not writing—when I was writing the first draft of Eclipse , I had first-person-perspective blinders on; anything that Bella couldn’t see or hear or feel or taste or touch was irrelevant. That story was her experience only.
The next step in the editing process was to step away from Bella and see how the story flowed. My editor, Rebecca Davis, was a huge part of that process, and she had a lot of questions for me about the things Bella didn’t know and how we could make the right parts of that story clearer. Because Bree is the only newborn Bella sees, Bree’s was the perspective that I first gravitated toward as I considered what was going on behind the scenes. I started thinking about living in the basement with the newborns and hunting traditional vampire-style. I imagined the world as Bree understood it. And it was easy to do that. From the start Bree was very clear as a character, and some of her friends also sprang to life effortlessly. This is the way it usually works for me: I try to write a short synopsis of what is happening in some other part of the story, and I end up jotting down dialogue. In this case, instead of a synopsis, I found myself writing a day in Bree’s life.
Writing Bree was the first time I’d stepped into the shoes of a narrator who was a “real” vampire—a hunter, a monster. I got to look through her red eyes at us humans; suddenly we were pathetic and weak, easy prey, of no importance whatsoever except as a tasty snack. I felt what it was like to be alone while surrounded by enemies, always on guard, never sure of anything except that her life was always in danger. I got to submerge myself in a totally different breed of vampires: newborns. The newborn life was something I hadn’t ever gotten to explore—even when Bella finally became a vampire. Bella was never a newborn like Bree was a newborn. It was exciting and dark and, ultimately, tragic. The closer I got to the inevitable end, the more I wished I’d concluded Eclipse just slightly differently.
I wonder how you will feel about Bree. She’s such a small, seemingly trivial character in Eclipse . She lives for only five minutes of Bella’s perspective. And yet her story is so important to an understanding of the novel. When you read the Eclipse scene in which Bella stares at Bree, assessing her as a possible future, did you ever think about what has brought Bree to that point in time? As Bree glares back, did you wonder what Bella and the Cullens look like to her? Probably not. But even if you did, I’ll bet you never guessed her secrets.
I hope you end up caring about Bree as much as I do, though that’s kind of a cruel wish. You know this: it doesn’t end well for her. But at least you will know the whole story. And that no perspective is ever really trivial.