The coronavirus pandemic brought an end to most book tours this summer, but here’s one high-profile exception. Stephenie Meyer, author of the “Twilight” series, is scheduled to appear in person at the Skyline Drive-In in Shelton on Friday, Aug. 7 to speak about her latest novel: “Midnight Sun,” which retells the “Twilight” love story from the point of view of the vampire Edward.
It’s appropriate that the event would happen in the Pacific Northwest: Meyer’s bestselling novels took place in the instantly famous town of Forks, Washington, chosen by Meyer because it was the rainiest place in the country — the better for vampires to stay out of the sun.
But how can an author event take place during the Summer of Social Distancing? Very carefully, said Suzanne Droppert, owner of Ballast Book Company in Bremerton, which is hosting the event. The initial plan was for Meyer (who owns a home in Washington state, so did not make a special trip) to appear on a stage approximately 100 feet from the audience of cars, Droppert explained. The author was to speak for about 45 minutes, answering questions sent by audience members via their phones, and then will leave; she will not sign autographs or otherwise mingle. (Copies of “Midnight Sun” with an autographed bookplate — included in each $62/carload ticket — will be handed out at the entry.)
Meyer’s appearance will be followed by a screening of the 2008 movie “Twilight.”
However, the specifics of the event had to change in order to comply with current pandemic guidelines.
At issue, was the question of whether the appearance constituted “live entertainment,” which is currently not allowed.
Marisa Russell, executive director of publicity for Little, Brown (the publisher of “Midnight Sun”), said Tuesday that there was some uncertainty regarding the guidelines, and that members of the governor’s staff were reviewing the plans.
On Wednesday afternoon, Russell confirmed that the event would still take place, but with Meyer appearing on a large screen instead of a stage. In a sort of “Wizard of Oz”-like set up, Meyer will sit in a separate room on the drive-in premises, and will be livestreamed to the audience. The governor’s office has signed off on the event.
On her website, Meyer urged fans attending the event to follow all local health and safety guidelines: “Follow your state’s rules about travel and crossing state lines. You should skip this if it would require you to stay overnight away from home. Do not attend the event with people outside of your household — wave to your friends from the safety of your car! Wear a mask if you have to leave your car. … Basically, let’s not any of us be Typhoid Mary, please!”
And as has been stipulated for all drive-in screenings this summer, audience members need to stay in their cars unless going to the concession stand or restrooms, and must wear face coverings for those excursions. Droppert said that people violating the mask-up rule will be asked to leave (a security officer will be present). “Health and safety is a top priority,” she wrote in an email.
As part of her book tour, Meyer will appear at several virtual events, listed on her website.
Seattle Times staffer Amy Wong contributed to this story.
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