Stephenie Meyer's fantasy about a lover's triangle between a teenage girl, a vampire and a werewolf are as brilliantly preposterous as they are profitable.
"I like it when there's a real problem to be solved," Meyer said. "This isn't something that can be gotten over easily, and then try and work out how you would deal with that. Then it turned into a lot more than that with the story. But I like the idea of that internal conflict."
Her "Twilight" series, with this lovers' dilemma at its core, has sold more than 100 million books, and the "Twilight" movies have grossed more than $2.5 billion worldwide.
This time around, she has created yet another high-stakes, inter-species lovers' romance. A new movie, "The Host," is based on another of Meyer's novels. In the film, actors Max Irons and Jake Abel play two red-blooded human men who are in love with a teenage girl and the alien spirit who has taken over her body.
"For all intents and purposes, she's dead. But then she comes back, and anything I knew about her and loved is gone," Irons said of his character, Jared.
In the film, an alien species takes over human bodies and erases their memories. Jared struggles with his emotions for Melanie, played by Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, when she turns into "Wanda." But Abel's character, Ian, finds himself attracted to this new species.
It is another inter-species romance, Meyer admitted, but she said that is more exciting than just two humans falling in love.
"I tried to write a story once with just human beings and I got really bored," she said. "I love to read them. I love regular fiction. But when I'm writing, now anyway, the science fiction and the fantasy holds onto my attention better."
Meyer's stories bridge the gap between teen and adult fiction, reminding all of us what it was like to fight the urges brought on by raging teenage hormones.
"I do think that there's something kind of magical about taking your time with physical attraction," Meyer said. "If you make it so that every time you brush someone's hand - remember when you were 14 and that was a big deal? We skip over that a lot."
Meyer's stories focus more on the sexual tension between characters rather than the act itself, and it's all about channeling that teenage giddiness.
"I don't think you ever lose the 16-year-old girl," Meyer said. "It's different now than it was back then but, apparently, it's not so different that I'm not still in touch with that girl."
Meyer is an unlikely publishing phenom. A devoted Mormon, the first "Twilight" installment was her very first attempt at writing. She said she was inspired by a dream she had about a beautiful vampire glittering in a meadow.
"Vivid dreams," she said. "That was an especially vivid one and it certainly worked out in odd ways."
Despite her celebrity status, Meyer said, her most important role is being a mom to her three sons, who she continues to keep out of the spotlight. She said they don't see their mother as a superstar.
"Mom is mostly at home being a nerd. You're not cool to your kids," she said. "I remember my middle one, he was trying to ask his friend, 'Which book does your mom write?' For kids, mom is the epitome of normal. That's just what mom does. They don't realize that it's going to be different for other people."
Meyer said she has only let her sons, who range in age from 9 to 14, see the first "Twilight" movie. She said she refuses to let them see the others because they are "too sensual."
There has been pressure for Meyer to expand the "Twilight" series -- perhaps with a prequel. But she said she is done with vampires, for the time being. Right now, she is working on a sequel to "The Host."
"I have so many stories. I have a computer full of half-written outlines and a chapter here and there," she said. "I have real fantasy, 'fantasy with a map in front piece' fantasy. I have assassin stories. Ghost stories. There are so many things that I'd love to be able to do."