On Tuesday, Stephanie Meyer’s long anticipated addition to the Twilight series Midnight Sun will be released. It may pay off as a savvy business decision, given that fiction sales are rising in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. The newest book is said to be told from vampire Edward Cullen’s perspective.
Full disclosure, I am not a Twilight fan and I ran away from Washington’s Olympic Peninsula as soon as possible. I attended high school in the place where the series is set and I was bullied by the neo nazis of Forks and Port Angeles. Forks’s neo nazis and Port Angeles’s economy are far scarier than any of Twilight’s vampires or werewolves. I hope that Meyer’s new book highlights the socioeconomic and racist conflicts of Clallam County, but based on the way that she depicted Jacob, I am not very hopeful.
“I just want to say thank you to all the patriots who showed up to protect my family from the threats at my house and my business, that they threatened to burn down,” Seth Larson said in a video after a multiracial family was attacked when rumors rippled across social media from Sequim to Forks that the family on a camping trip was affiliated with Antifa. Never mind that Antifa is a shortened version of the word “anti-fascist”. If you went to high school with any white supremacists, you’ll know that this detail doesn’t matter to them. The family was only able to escape after teenagers cut the fallen trees that the racist horde felled across the road, blocking the family in.
The family reportedly went on a camping trip in Forks because they were fans of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight book series. A franchise that singlehandedly propped up the impoverished economy of the Olympic Peninsula for years. In fact, the year that I was a nanny in Port Angeles, I met other parents who worked for the local coast guard. Almost weekly in the height of Twilight’s popularity, coast guard helicopters had to rescue Team Edward fans who swam out to sea stacks at low tide. My favorite internet café turned into a Twilight gift shop that sold Twilight body spray. Jacob’s body spray smelled like moldy patchouli and Bella’s smelled like a $5 allergic reaction from Bath and Body Works.
In high school, my friends and I had eggs thrown at us as we exited a PFLAG meeting at school. They screamed after us from the stairs above, leading to the football field. The award-winning music program was defunded so that the football team who rarely won could buy new equipment. I was working as a caregiver for a disabled Pakistani man during 9/11 and I had to convince local law enforcement that he was not a terrorist. When a police officer came to my pediatrician’s clinic to take my rape report, he decided not to press charges and I was too scared to press charges myself. I think about the time that I was mocked at a town festival for holding my infant niece who is multiracial. My perception of Clallam County is forever sullied with the memory of my mother who kicked me out for being gay. Afterward, I lived in a cave above the Elwha River because I couldn’t go to the police or local shelter and risk being arrested as an underage queer runaway.
Twenty years later, I live in Seattle. Sometimes over dinner, my friends in Seattle will get this dreamy look in their eyes and tilt their head Northwest, across the water, toward the Olympic Mountains where the sun sets the jagged peaks on fire like a crown. They tell me their dreams of buying an affordable little place in Forks, near the Hoh Rainforest. Of raising goats and having space to garden while they work remotely for Microsoft. And I ask them if they like having nazis for neighbors.
In 2017, Jimmy Smith-Kramer, a Quinault father celebrating his 20th birthday with a camping trip, was brutally massacred beneath the wheels of a local white man’s truck as Jimmy slept in his tent. I had long since moved away when he was murdered, but I read the story and cried when I learned that it would not be tried as a hate crime, even though the killer reportedly yelled racist slurs out the window of his Chevy as he shifted into reverse over Jimmy’s body.
I fear for the safety of the new wave of Twihard fans who might want to visit this place when Midnight Sun is released next week. Meyer reportedly set the Twilight series in Forks and Port Angeles, WA because she recalled fond memories of her family visiting the region when she was a child. The Twilight series does not delve into the Olympic Peninsula’s history as a stronghold of white supremacy in the Pacific Northwest. I would argue that contemporary nazis are much scarier than vampires and werewolves.
In spite of its beauty, I avoid going hiking there because I fear the insidious culture of hate it celebrates. It is interesting to look at the AirBnB listings for Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, then span the map to look at listings on the other side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Vancouver Island is a short ferry ride away. And though Canada is not perfect, their economy is much stronger on that side of the water. In B.C., you can stay in a beautiful cabin in Port Renfrew and not worry about being murdered by nazis. Perhaps you’ll stay at a resort and read your new book. It seems, fear is not a very effective selling point in tourism brochures. Perhaps racism is bad for the economy.
If Vancouver Island’s booming tourism industry is any indication of its lack of nazis, I hope that Midnight Sun features a scene in which Edward Cullen relocates to Victoria. Because I will definitely buy the book if there is a fight scene with nazis. At the very least, I hope that Twilight’s vampires can convince Clallam County’s residents that “Antifa” stands for anti-fascist and that our fascist president does not have their best interests at heart. Because I couldn’t.