According to the author, her books are "about life, not death" and "love, not lust". Each book in the series was inspired by and loosely based on a different literary classic: Twilight on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, New Moon on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Eclipse on Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, and Breaking Dawn on a second Shakespeare play, A Midsummer Night's Dream. Meyer also states that Orson Scott Card and L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series are a big influence on her writing.
Other major themes of the series include choice and free will. Meyer says that the books are centered around Bella's choice to choose her life on her own, and the Cullens' choices to abstain from killing rather than follow their temptations: "I really think that's the underlying metaphor of my vampires. It doesn't matter where you're stuck in life or what you think you have to do; you can always choose something else. There's always a different path."
Meyer, a Mormon, acknowledges that her faith has influenced her work. In particular, she says that her characters "tend to think more about where they came from, and where they are going, than might be typical." Meyer also steers her work from subjects such as sex, despite the romantic nature of the novels. Meyer says that she does not consciously intend her novels to be Mormon-influenced, or to promote the virtues of sexual abstinence and spiritual purity, but admits that her writing is shaped by her values, saying, "I don't think my books are going to be really graphic or dark, because of who I am. There's always going to be a lot of light in my stories."