Justin Bieber’s fans may complain about a two-hour wait, but it was a different story for those in line to see Stephenie Meyer, the author of the bestselling Twilight novels.
There was a carnival atmosphere in Piccadilly as fans of all ages queued for up to 13 hours to meet their “Queen”.
At the front of the line was Sinead Tobin Belmont, a Dubliner now living in London, who had arrived at 5am that morning. The 23-year-old said: “I just really love her work and I wanted to make sure I would be first in line to meet her.”
Aficionados of Meyer’s work had made the pilgrimage to Waterstones’ flagship store from all over the country, and by midday the line was already 40 strong.
Those queuing were predominantly women, while the ages ranged from the young teens to over 50 years old. Several questioned were at pains to point out that “we are not a group of screaming 13 year old girls, as some media have painted us. That is a very small proportion.”
Those queuing made new friends in the line, and one fan held a sign saying “Honk if you’re happy” – the other side said “We love Stephenie Meyer” to passing motorists. Every horn sounded was met with a huge cheer.
Emma Clark, 26, who has posted hundreds of YouTube videos about Meyer’s books – and who had drawn the sign – arrived from Newcastle at 6.40am. “It is my first chance to meet her. This is huge.”
Elaine Turner, who runs the biggest UK Twilight fan site, is 50-years-old. “We’re not crazy fanatics. All of us here love the books, they really cross generations. The first Twilight book captured something for everybody and it felt like she was one of us.”
Ms Turner, who came down from Gloucestershire, said: “Many people come down to see The Queen. We came here to see our Queen.”
The signing was to publicise the cinema release of The Host, a book Meyer wrote in 2008, and was her first time in the UK for such an event for six years.
Meyer’s Twilight novels have sold over 100 million copies around the world. Many had grown up with the novels that chronicle the tale of a girl Bella, who falls in love with Edward, a vampire. Those in the queue said part of their love of Twilight was that it had brought many of them together.
Eleanor Ford, 29, said: “I love everything about her work, what’s also great is this fan community that has grown up around Twilight. We know people in the queue through Twilight.”
Waterstones called in extra staff to patrol the crowds, which were steadily growing throughout the day. One staff member said the management expected it to be one of the biggest events of its kind.
Emily Chinnery, a 19-year-old from Brighton, said: “I am a huge fan, I love all her books. She’s the reason I wanted to become an author; she’s inspiring.”