‘Spotlight’ on Twilight a Hit — Overseas!

Two years post publication, Deathly Hallows Lectures continues to sell better than any of my books, to include those published by major houses and distributed in book stores. Given the several challenging chapters in that book on literary alchemy, Dante, and eye symbolism, this is really quite remarkable — and reassuring to me as I set out on my month long ‘Deathly Hallows Tour’ (see above). The continued sales of Lectures tell me that readers really do want and appreciate a thoughtful and prolonged look at their favorite books.

Perhaps I should say Harry Potter readers? Sales of my Twilight Saga opus, Spotlight: An Up-Close Look at the Artistry and Meaning of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga, have never taken off, though readers like James Thomas at Pepperdine have told me it is the best thing I’ve written. Most of the mail I receive about it, though, comes from overseas.

Take as an example, this post at a UK website devoted to neo-Victorian literature. Gabrielle Malcolm thinks the world of Spotlight and believes it to be the ground breaking study of the subject, especially with respect to its religious and allegorical content (as does more than one Latter-day Saint, as well).

In the US, though, I struggle to find even a podCast willing to interview me on the subject. Fan Conferences? Forget about it.

This would be discouraging, insomuch as it seems to confirm the meme about Twilight readers as not especially interested in thinking per se or even thinking about their favorite books, except for letters like this one from a teen reader in Germany:

Dear Mr. Granger,

My name is Julia, I`m 18 years old and come from Germany. I just read through the first pages of your book “Spotlight” and felt currently the urge to write you an e-mail. You can`t imagine how glad I am to finally realize there are other people out there who understand the Twilight-Saga the way I`ve understood it!

I was never really interested in reading the twilight-books, because I thougt it was just teenage-love-story-nonsense. One friday night I went to the cinema with my boyfriend cause we didn`t know what else to do and the only movie they were showing I was halfway interested in was the first Twilight-Movie. After seeing the movie I was not really convinced of the story becaue I thougt about the movie as a real merchandise-product. But I got the first novel (“Twilight”) for christmas and after starting to read it I just wasn`t able to put it out of my hands again.

I read the whole Saga just in english because the german versions are for my taste really poorly translated.

So after turning into a fan of the Twilight-Saga with an IQ over 120 I really had problems to defend my opinion about the Twilight-Saga in front of everybody else, even other fans because I don`t like the hole Team-Jacob-Team-Edward-and-what-is-Robert-Pattionson-wearing-today-Hype at all. I really loved the books because they`re so detailed, they have philosophical, ethical, religious and literary background. I love to read through books and to find relations to other books (Classics) or to find stilistic devices or symbols like the blue flower or something like that.

I do next year my general qualification for university entrance and in Germany you have(among other things) to write a paper for your graduation. I write my paper in the subject English (so the paper itself has to be in english) and I chose as my topic: How Romeo and Juliet influences the Twilight-Saga (especially New Moon).

You can imagine that the critics for liking the Twilight-Saga I had before my chose now are even more critizising, because everybody who asks me about my  paper and gets to know my topic just gets this okay-you-are-a-18-year-old-girl-who-reads-tennie-books-and-even-thinks-they-are-“literary-high-class-work”-look`.

I`m at the moment working on my paper and it`s going to be really great (at least I hope so because even my english teacher thinks that the twilight-Saga is romance fluff). But I wanted to thank you for writing a book from a serious point of view and I really want to thank you for seeing the things in the Twilight Saga the way I do. Most of the time I spent for my paper so far was spent on looking for serious literature (I don`t know if you have an idea of how much trashy literature about the Twilight-Saga is sold at the moment ?!)and with your book I found one of the most important books for my paper.

I would be really excited about getting an answer from you and it would be awesome if you could give me some hints for my paper.

Yours sincerely,


p.s.: I`m really sorry if my english is not that good, I`m still practising:-)

Here is the response I sent to Julia, who, of course, was asked for and who gave her permission before I published her note:

From: John Granger
Date: Sat, Oct 16, 2010 at 7:02 AM
To: Julia

Dear Julia,

Thank you for your very kind and generous letter!

In addition to the alchemical chapter in Spotlight I recommend you read these posts from my weBlogs to help with the back ground for your paper:

Of these, probably the most important are the “series of posts” about why otherwise thoughtful readers despise Mrs. Meyer’s writing (genre revuslsion, misogyny, Sarah Palin syndrome, etc.). You’ll have to address that right away, I think, if your reading audience is as disdainful of Twilight as you say!

I hope this helps! Please let me know how the paper turns out. I am quite jealous of your English. I studied German for years in High School and College — and never approached the fluency you have in English.

With admiration,


Correspondence like this, as you probably have guessed, floats my boat, especially when sales lag so far behind expectations. I look forward to reading your thoughts about why Spotlight has flopped, relative at least to Deathly Hallows Lectures, especially if we set aside the tired idea that Twilight readers are stupid.


  1. I can’t put my finger on a particular reason – but I do want to say – I absolutely LOVED “How Harry Cast His Spell” (the chapter explaining the whole incantational vs invocational magic was fabulous) and also plan to get “Unlocking Harry Potter” which I loved almost as much… But “Deathly Hallows Lectures” and “Spotlight” were for me much harder to get into – for whatever reason – which probably reflects badly on me rather than you in all reality. They’re both probably really great books from a purely academic perspective – but if you’re reading “academic” books for “fun” – the other two are a much more enjoyable “easy” read.

    So not really a reason there (at least not one I can put my finger on), other than just to say – I couldn’t actually finish either Spotlight or Deathly Hallows Lectures – I have too many books on my to-read list to spend time reading books that I just can’t get into at all…

  2. John

    many thanks for your mention of my blog entry – we need to spread the word about the academic content to be found in the ‘Twilight’ series. Please send my very best wishes to Julia in Germany – I hope that her tutors begin to appreciate the worth that she is finding in popular fiction, showing such initiative in someone so new to literary criticism!
    I had a very interesting and interested response to my paper on Twilight at the Leeds University conference a few weeks ago. Fellow Neo-Victorianists had absolutely no problem in seeing the connections between such a contemporary work and the spiritual and religious allegory you explain and appreciating the Bronte-esque traits within the work. Many had just not read the novels or even begun to venture into the assessment of such a recent phenomenon as academically valid. But the reasoning was not that they saw them as unworthy of criticism. I am fortunately linked in to a network of fellow scholars who have moved beyond the value judgment of literary quality when something is of cultural and scholarly significance.
    I would suggest that, even if you yourself cannot present, a publicity and promotional ‘push’ on a bookstand at the PCA conference in San Antonio next year would be well worth it to draw attention to the importance of ‘Spotlight’.

  3. Arabella Figg says

    Gabrielle, I loved your blog essay and have saved it. Thank you!

    Julia, I loved your letter and admire your gumption. I also admire your willingness to read the books, when you thought little of the franchise and its excesses, and weren’t impressed with the first film. I also only read them out of curiosity and loved them (I’ve not seen the films). You’ll find much of interest in what John has recommended.

    John’s Spotlight book is phenomenal, and those of you who have read this seminal work know that this is the book to have to understand Meyer’s influences, artistry, and the story’s meaning. It’s unfortunate that there continues to be a dismissal of Meyer’s work because it’s “stupid romantic teen stuff,” and because they’re turned off with all the film frenzy.

    I believe, however, that if Spotlight was sitting on tables at Barnes & Noble, Borders, and other booksellers, with the Twilight books it would be racking up great sales. Any Saga lover who picked it up would want it. I think that lack of exposure and distribution is a good chunk of the problem.

  4. Thanks Arabella, I appreciate it!

    And yes, I think that publicity and exposure would really see Spotlight shift – I couldn’t agree more, it is a seminal work and an absolute must for understanding the religious allegory contained in the series.

  5. I agree that Spotlight is a seminal work, and as I’ve told my own daughter, if you read that and do some supportive research, it will take your work from the bachelors level to masters level work and beyond. But I’m not exactly the target demographic.

    So I have to say, though, that she always skips over most of the LDS content, when she’s read or referred back to the book.

    I think from a marketing angle, you want to go for the widest possible audience. As I’ve been telling our people the entire election cycle, don’t offend anyone when you don’t have to. Plus, it’s always going to be difficult to base an argument on what the artist was really thinking. They can just disagree, and you are in trouble. Better to just say, this interpretation is supported by the text, IMHO.

    So I asked her about it tonight to confirm, and she kind of disagreed with me. She says that, unlike Harry Potter, which is publicly enjoyed by lots of boys/men, Twilight is still sort of in the closet for most men, which means it’s a girls thing. She said that as a result, there has been a LOT of harshing on Twilight fans, and so as a result, they are pretty defensive and sensitive. I can’t argue with that. So she seemed to think that the Meadows Massacre stuff was kinda sorta attacking Meyer, and that was that. At least I think that’s what she meant.

    Because she added that John pointed out the Eden/Garden/Meadow allegory in the Hunger Games, but didn’t just say the same thing for the meadow in Twilight. And then she left, so that was the end of my marketing research.


  6. John

    these re-issues of Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights might be of interest. They are marketed to appeal to the Twilight fan – to match the covers of Mrs Meyer’s novels on their shelves no doubt! It keeps the alchemical colour coordination going!


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