The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
It was December 2008, and Twilight the movie had just been released. It was already a worldwide phenomenon, but I wasn’t too familiar with it.
I’d seen three page adverts in Seventeen, proclaiming, one page after the other, “Edward? Jacob? Who will Bella choose?” I’d never seen an advertisement for a book before, so I was intrigued. While I considered myself a bookworm, I only purchased books on sale – I didn’t know anything about bestseller lists or popular works of fiction. I knew what was available in my school library (which was not much), and what I found in secondhand stores.
I was just interested in watching the movie to see what the hype was all about, but I was hooked from the get-go. I was obsessed with Edward Cullen from his very first appearance, even if he was glaring at poor Bella. There was just something about the brooding, gorgeous vampire that grabbed my attention, and didn’t let go. He was protective, mysterious and, in my opinion, the world’s best boyfriend. Bella was the luckiest girl ever, and I was so jealous.
The trouble with bookworms
I’m not exactly sure what it was about the movie that appealed so much to me, but I watched it over and over again. I didn’t know anything that came in between yet, but having heard teasing of a love triangle, I absolutely had to know how it ended – even though I barely remembered who Jacob was. I remember asking my dad to buy Breaking Dawn for me, and then I paid him in silver coins, having saved up my allowance.
For the next three days, I did nothing but read. I needed to know how things would resolve! I was interested in the love triangle originally, but as I read the book, I just saw Edward and the guy who was not Edward. I sped through the book as fast as I could, but then it was done and I could only wonder, now what?
Knowing how it ended didn’t satisfy me like I thought it would – even with closure to the series, I was still left wanting more, and planned to complete my collection with the books I was still missing. My family told me I was being ridiculous – I could borrow the books at the library! But I refused. There was a waiting list, plus I wanted to own the books. I wanted to feel the paperbacks in my arms!
As an only child, I was used to getting my way. But the bookstores were all out of stock, and it took about six months before I finally located the first three novels. Throughout this time, my family kept telling me how crazy I was behaving with my Twilight obsession. I ignored them, and once I’d saved up enough cash, I purchased the remaining books and snuck them home. Thus was born my book buying-and-hiding habit.
In my experience, there are two types of reading parents in South Africa. The first group grew up being taught that reading is the key to success, that knowledge is power – you get the picture. They don’t care what you’re reading as long as you are reading. The second group is too daunted by the price of books. It’s not that they don’t value reading, but it has to come at the right price. My family fell into the second group, so I purchased the books and kept them a secret.
But once I realised how easy it was to bring new books into the house, I couldn’t stop. Sneaking books home became a habit, like biting your nails or eating too much chocolate. I didn’t even know I was doing it. Flash forward to now, where I have a book collection of over 700. When bookstores closed for the pandemic, I was well-prepared! I always laughingly tell the story of how my parents were too busy to take me to the library, but now I have a library in my lounge.
The importance of finding “your people”
Back then, the term “fangirl” wasn’t a thing. I was just declared “obsessive” and “crazy”. Feeling misunderstood and embarrassed by those around me, I quickly found my people, thanks to Twitter. The platform had just started gaining popularity, so I signed up for an account, enabling me to connect to other Twi-hards. It was one of these Twi-hards that eventually introduced me to fanfiction – and boy, did that change my life.
Fanfiction is exactly what it sounds like: stories written by fans, based on existing novels, movies or TV shows. In fact, Fifty Shades of Grey was originally a Twilight fanfiction (and one of my favorites).
I started writing Twilight fanfiction of my own, which eventually introduced me to more fangirls. We could discuss the movies and books in depth, something I’d only ever been able to think about alone before. One of these fangirls introduced me to The Vampire Diaries. The difference between vampires lead me to search for Vampire Mythology, which then led to me researching all sorts of supernatural information.
It was a brand new world for me, and it was fascinating. I read everything I could about witches, werewolves, vampires and magic.
Anything supernatural caught my eye, so much so that I eventually wrote my own book, set in a supernatural town. I was 13 at the time, and I sent the draft to a publisher who unfortunately rejected it, based on it not being a financially viable venture. It was only later on that I learnt that South Africa doesn’t publish fantasy novels. I remember staying up the night I got the letter, and I felt so torn. I was convinced I would never write again.
Flash forward to three months later, and I had applied (and been approved for) an internship at a local teen magazine, Saltwater Girl. I loved the experience, and knew then and there, for sure, that writing was for me. I moved on to submitting articles to blogs and magazines, and looking back now, it’s funny to see that it was fanfiction that got me started. I had wanted to write for years, but never could. Now, thanks to fanfiction, I'm finally comfortable with expressing myself via the written word.
When the time came to apply to college, I chose to major in English and Media. I also made sure to choose Classical Civilisations, so that I could indulge in my love for myths.
Eventually I grew up, and decided Edward was not the perfect boyfriend I always thought he was. I started a book review blog, and found more acceptable book boyfriends. I was also able to fangirl openly, now that I had finally found my squad.
When Midnight Sun released and I started reading it, it really hit home how much The Twilight Saga has meant to me. Many of my likes, and even aspects of my personality, were influenced by those books, and it’s truly amazing to see what an impact it's had on me.