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Still shocked when people label her the next J.K. Rowling, the 34-year-old Arizona author — just five years ago an unpublished stay-at-home mother of three boys — hasn't yet gotten used to her volcanic burst of fame. ''At photo shoots I feel like I should be the one moving the lights or fixing the iPod or handing the photographer his water,'' says Meyer.
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Told from the point of view of a smart, reserved 17-year-old rocked by giant love, the Twilight series is an antidote for a generation tired of back tattoos, belly piercings, and Paris Hilton. Some critics dismiss Bella as being just another damsel in distress. ''Just because she doesn't do kung fu and she cooks for her father doesn't make her worthy of that criticism,'' defends Meyer.
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Bella moves to small-town Forks, a drizzly green hamlet in Washington, to live with her sheriff father Charlie and start her junior year in high school. It's the opposite in every way from Phoenix, where Bella previously lived with her flighty Mom. (Incidentally, Meyer herself lives outside Phoenix but now summer vacations in a Pacific Northwest town a lot like Forks.)
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THE CULLEN FAMILY
Bella befriends a strange, beautiful family, led by calm town doctor Carlisle and his radiant wife, Esme. Turns out all of them — ''brothers and sisters'' Edward, Rosalie, Emmett, Alice, and Jasper, too — crave blood, but they've weaned themselves off the human stuff. Meyer balked at an early Twilight script because the screenwriter had cut her beloved Cullens, save Edward, entirely from the film.
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The actor, best known for playing Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, sent the Twilighter blogosphere into a jeering fit when it was announced he'd been cast as Edward. ''They freaked out,'' sighed Meyer. ''And now all their taglines on their posts say 'When God made Robert Pattinson he was just showing off.' '' Teenage girls = fickle beasts.
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''Oh my gosh, I want Edward's body!'' is a typical response from fans of the hairless, amber-eyed teenage vampire. ''If Bella decided to leave Edward I couldn't forgive her,'' said one ardent fan on Meyer's recent book tour. Unconcerned about the heroine giving up her mortality in the name of love, the 19-year-old suggested that ''They can adopt little babies and make them vampires!'' Cute. Creepy, but cute.
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Edward, desperate to protect Bella's safety and salvation, vanishes in Book 2, leaving her broken. A passionate offshoot of fans fell for Bella's younger buddy Jacob, cheery and reliable, and yes, part werewolf, after he reintroduced her to blue skies. Bella is hopelessly smitten with the sexy vampire, but Team Jacob cheered when she gave into a heady kiss at the end of Eclipse.
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The Tipping Point
Before Eclipse came out in summer 2007, Meyer had earned out her $750,000 advance for the original three-book deal and was starting to pocket monster royalties. During Eclipse's book tour, the series went viral, with crowds soaring from 600 people to over 2000 in a matter of a few short weeks.
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''When Jon Stewart comes out with a book, nobody describes him as the Jewish father of two,'' says Meyer. As a practicing Mormon, the author won't see R-rated movies, like Wanted with her beloved James McAvoy. And since she never works on Sundays, Meyer had to pass up an invitation to present a Twilight clip in person at the recent MTV Movie awards.
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The G Spot
Meyer's fans praise her for writing clean books without gratuitous sex scenes, only to turn around and fan their blushing faces, dizzy over the strictly above-the-neckline makeout sessions between Edward and Bella. At signings, the author is routinely presented with roly-poly babies, often named Bella, and pronouncements that all the literary foreplay led to literal conception.
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When fans got their initial look at Book 4's jacket, they cried foul. ''My publisher was sending me pictures of everything, even if it had nothing to do with the story,'' says Meyer, who had an integral role in its conception, and is confident folks will soon come around. ''Darts. A microphone. A velvet rope. A deck of cards. I thought we should look at chess and they wanted it to have just the white queen. But I said no, no, no, we have to add the red pawn.''
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Meyer revealed exclusively to EW.com that she had the pleasure in Book 4 of writing Edward and Bella's wedding scene. (Don't worry Team Jacob, your boy just hasn't ''imprinted'' yet with his true love!) Now fans, who might dig the action, but really come back for the romance, are free to fantasize just how far Meyer will take things on the honeymoon night.
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Meyer has told her fans that Breaking Dawn will be the last book she writes from Bella's point of view. (''The reason the books have gone on so long is I have a harder time giving up Bella's humanity than she does,'' says Meyer. ''She's so quick to say 'No, give it all away, I'm ready to die right now!''') But the author already has half of Midnight Sun, Twilight as narrated by Edward, cooking on her computer.