Here’s an excerpt from a great story by Susan Carpenter on today’s front page of the Los Angeles Times. She went to Forks, Wash., to write about the impact of "Twilight"-mania on the old logging community that author Stephenie Meyer used as her setting in the wildly popular books series. The film adaptation is due in theaters on Nov. 21.
When the timber economy that had sustained this wet and distant place for its first hundred years came crashing to earth like an old-growth Douglas fir, people exhausted themselves trying to figure out what the future would hold. What would happen to the little town clinging to the western slope of the rain forest on the Olympic Peninsula with its single grocery store, one traffic light and 3,100 residents?
Nobody guessed anything like this:
Sydney Conway and two of her teenage friends, on a school holiday, got into a minivan and drove four hours — to stare at the nondescript brick building that is Forks High School. There’s a weathered wooden sign announcing it as "the home of the Spartans," but otherwise it looks like most other high schools in the country.
Sydney, Alexis Miller and Rebekah Hamilton got out of their van, stood in front of the school — oblivious to the cool mist that was frizzing their hair and chilling their pedicured, flip-flopped feet — and screamed, "Twilight!"
The Twilight Saga, as just about any teen girl could tell you, is the name of a mega-selling series of books by Stephenie Meyer set in a mythical version of Forks. The books chronicle the complicated love triangle of a human, a vampire and a werewolf. To say they are huge is like calling Harry Potter just a boy.
More from Susan Carpenter’s article:
Specifically, the young-adult books are about Bella Swan, a teenager who moves to Forks to live with her dad. Attending the local high school, she meets a pretty boy named Edward Cullen, who, it turns out, is a vampire; he is powerfully attracted to Bella, but to act on his instinct would mean injuring, possibly even killing her.
Over the course of 2,000 pages, Edward avoids, falls in love with and leaves Bella, which makes room for a werewolf named Jacob to vie for her affections. Jacob and Edward spar, Bella chooses Edward, and 17 million book sales later, the Twilight Saga is a major cultural force, inspiring such adoring fandom that this tiny town is now a tourist destination for giggling, screaming teenagers (and some women) whose love for the Twilight books is so strong that they want to live in its make-believe world. So far this year, more than 7,000 Twilighters have visited.
Forks High School is often besieged with Twilighters, who pose for pictures in front of the Spartans sign or scan the parking lot for Edward’s car, a silver Volvo sedan. Some have even wandered inside to seek out the fictional characters. Still others have requested to be transferred to the school.
As Sydney and her friends mugged for the camera, a man in a pickup drove by and smiled at them with a pair of white plastic fangs.
"We probably wouldn’t do this for another book," said Sydney, 17, who lives in Redmond. "Maybe Harry Potter, but that’s a little too far away."
Again, it’s a great article, and you can continue reading here.
Credit: Photo of Forks City Hall by Brian Vander Brug\Los Angeles Times. You can see his photo gallery here.