By Zorianna Kit
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Can lightning strike twice for "Twilight Saga" author Stephenie Meyer?
Meyer trades vampires for alien beings in her latest book-to-film endeavor, "The Host," opening in U.S. movie theaters on Friday.
Film distributor Open Road hopes the film will attract millions of "Twilight" fans and be the first of a new franchise, but Meyer says she Is not trying to emulate the success that took her from unknown to one of the world's best-selling young adult authors.
"I'm not trying to have another 'Twilight' phenomenon, so for me there's not a lot of pressure," Meyer, 39, told Reuters.
"All I wanted from this was for it to be really great movie. I wanted to see the visions in my head on the screen and be happy with it. That's been accomplished."
Like the "Twilight" series about a romance between a human, a vampire and a werewolf that took more than $3.3 billion at the global box office, "The Host" is also a love triangle with a female at the center. But that's where the similarities end.
"The Host" is a futuristic apocalyptic romance about alien souls who invade and take over the human race. But the story takes place mostly in the imagination of the lead character, giving Meyer some initial doubts about how the book would translate to the big screen.
"I didn't think you could film it, Meyer said. "The whole thing happens inside one person's head. I didn't think it could be visual. It wasn't until director Andrew Niccol got involved. He is the most visual person and laid it all out for me. Then it was like, oh, okay."
"The Host" stars Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, 18, as stubborn and determined Melanie Stryder, whose body is taken over by an alien named Wanda who wants to do good in the body in which she was placed.
Both live together in Melanie's body, first as enemies, then as friends who eventually partner up to help save the human race. Romantic relations get complicated when Melanie is reunited with her boyfriend (Max Irons), but Wanda begins to fall for his friend (Jake Abel).
Meyer, whose four "Twilight" novels have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide, is working on writing two more books in the "The Host" series.
INFORMED BY RELIGION
"I aspire to be like Wanda," Meyer said. "I wish I could always be peaceful like her and choose the right thing. That's my dream of what I should be like. That's how the character came about.
"I'm a religious person and so you always have that idea of perfection in front of you. It's frustrating. But I'm getting better with age."
Meyer was raised as a Mormon and attends church every Sunday with her husband of nearly 20 years and their three sons.
But she said she never deliberately puts any religious sub texts in her work, although her beliefs do seep into her characters.
"My characters almost always think about the bigger question of 'Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?'" she said. "In other (people's) novels, most characters never think about what's beyond their own experience."
Meyer has branched out into film production, taking a role as a producer on "The Host" that made her part of every decision taken on the film.
Her production company, Fickle Fish Films, with producing partner Meghan Hibbett, has a mandate of bringing literature-based projects to the screen.
It recently produced "Austenland," a romantic comedy inspired by classic novel "Pride and Prejudice." The movie was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
After promotion duties for "The Host" are over, Meyer will focus on the next novel in the series, although writing will be different now because she'll be picturing Ronan as Melanie Stryder.
"Saoirse Ronan has gotten in my head a little bit," said Meyer. "When I go home and jump into the writing again, it will be interesting to see how much I can get back to my Melanie."
(Reporting By Zorianna Kit. Editing by Jill Serjeant and Andre Grenon)