T: "Harry Potter" dropped off the New York Times bestseller list. This next story is about a writer whose spooky tales may be the next big thing. Her name is Stephenie Meyer.

The three books in her "Twilight" series have already sold more than five million copies in the U.S., and they dominate bestseller lists for kids' books. On Tuesday, Meyer released her first book for adults. It's called "The Host."

NPR's Lynn Neary brings us this report about Stephenie Meyer, a Mormon mother of three who's become publishing's latest phenomenon.

LYNN NEARY: Before Stephenie Meyer even thought about being a writer, she loved the "Harry Potter" books. So she finds it bizarre when people call her the next J.K. Rowling. Still, she admits they do have something in common.

: I think the reason why we get the comparison is because our fans are actually similar. They have that same fanatical thing going on. They dress up for the events. They come out early. They're just so into the characters. And I think that's why you get the comparison.

NEARY: On Tuesday in Minneapolis, the day her new book "The Host" was released, about a thousand of those devoted fans turned out to see Meyer at the gigantic Mall of America.

: So I'm done with my questions, and now I have a lot of books to sign. I know you guys want (unintelligible)...

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

NEARY: If those screams so much what you might hear at a "Hannah Montana" concert, that's because Meyer's fan base is mostly teenage girls. Anteria Hester(ph) wouldn't let her 14-year-old skip school to see Meyer, so she stood in line instead.

: My daughter loves her books. Every time her new book come out, I'm at Barnes and Noble picking up the book.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: Every time.

NEARY: Few writers can imagine this kind of commercial success. And what may be even more frustrating for those who write in obscurity is Meyer's insistence that she never set out to be a writer. The way she tells it, the "Twilight" series began with a dream about a vampire and a teenage girl. Meyer wanted to remember it, so she wrote it down and then began expanding on the story.

: I didn't think of it as a book until the day it was finished. When I wrote the last sentence, I knew it was the last sentence, that's my thought - wow, this is like as long as a book.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

NEARY: What did you think it was up until that time?

: It was just this little hobby of mine, where I had this story. To me it was always just a story, and I enjoyed writing it so much that there really didn't need to be another purpose for it.

NEARY: A devout Mormon, Meyer has built her empire around a story of adolescent desire. Bella, the young teenage heroine, falls in love with Edward, a vampire who refuses to drink human blood. But Edward must constantly fight his bloodlust for Bella.

Time magazine described the sexual tension inherent in the story as the erotics of abstinence, a phrase that seems to embarrass Meyer.

: It's really just my experience with the world and my experience with passion, and the fact that when there is restraint involved, there's so much more to it. And I think that a lot of fiction and movies these days, they're really missing that beginning stage. They skip right past it.

(SOUNDBITE OF BOOKSTORE)

NEARY: At Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C., a group of teenage fans of the "Twilight" series debate the relative merits of Edward the vampire and Bella's other suitor, Jacob, a lovesick werewolf.

U: Why don't you like Edward? That confuses me. He's perfect.

U: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

U: It's not that I don't like Edward. It's that I don't like him as much, I think.

NEARY: There's no question that this group, like most of Meyer's readers, have fallen hard for Edward. Fourteen-year-old Jojo Emmerson(ph) pretty much sums it up with this description.

: He's the heartthrob boy vampire lead of the "Twilight" series and I think just about everyone that has ever read it would perk up at the name Edward Cullen, even if they're standing like 12 miles away.

NEARY: But the girls say you don't have to like vampires to like these stories. Noran Matty(ph) says that's because Meyer's vampires are different.

: They're not, you know, crazy serial-killer vampires. They're really nice, articulate, polite vampires, with, like, table manners.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

NEARY: For these young readers, Meyer's books seem to be filling the vacuum left behind by the end of the Harry Potter series. Eleven-year-old Ellie Cohen(ph) and 14-year-old Jojo Emmerson have both moved on, in their own way.

: Once I saw "Twilight," you know, I started reading it and then I put down my Harry Potter books. I was like never mind about these, sorry.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: And I'm like, I don't like J.K. Rowling anymore. Actually, I am a purist and I do not like to mix my Harry Potter and my "Twilight." I have a pile next to my bed and it's the seven Harry Potter books and I have the three "Twilight" books. I don't want to get those worlds mixed, because once I do I know it's just going to go crazy.

NEARY: If Jojo is worried about mixing up her imaginary worlds now, just wait till she reads Meyer's new book, "The Host." Geared to the adult market, it's a science fiction romance where two women, one an alien from outer space, inhabit the same body and are in love with the same man. Meyer says writing dialogue for characters that share the same body wasn't a problem for her.

: All of these characters in my other books, in this book, all of them take place in one head - mine. So I'm really used to internal conversations. That came pretty easily. I hear voices all the time.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

NEARY: And just as Meyer writes about good vampires in the "Twilight" books, she's created kinder, gentler alien invaders in "The Host."

: Some of my friends that read "The Host" when I was back and working on it in the rough draft stages told me, am I supposed to be rooting for the humans? Because I'm kind of not.

NEARY: Meyer wants to attract an adult audience with her new book, but she also wants to keep her young fan base and hopes they'll give it a chance.

Fourteen-year-old Noran Matty says Meyer has nothing to worry about.

: I pretty much think she could write about a retirement community and we'd all read it. It's really like a given.

NEARY: But Meyer does have one worry.

: That they're going to pick it up and start flipping through it and be like there's no Edward here; where is Edward? And then they won't finish because they want more Edward.

NEARY: Those young women who do want more Edward won't have long to wait. "Breaking Dawn," the fourth book in the "Twilight" series, is due out in August, with a first printing of 2.5 million books.

Lynn Neary, NPR News, Washington.

: And you can read a chapter from Stephenie Meyer's new book, "The Host" at npr.org/books.

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