With Harry Potter hanging up his broomstick, a new fantasy adventure has young readers hooked.
Stephenie Meyer's latest novel, "Eclipse," has knocked "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" from its perch atop bestseller lists. Not bad for someone who, a few short years ago, never would have dreamed of being a writer.
"It's amazing," said the 33-year-old Meyer, whose book-signing appearances now draw hundreds of gushing fans. "I wasn't expecting the books to even be published. When I first put them out, my thought was, 'They're going to laugh at me.'"
"Eclipse" is the third book in a series that chronicles the adventures of star-crossed lovers Edward Cullen and Bella Swan. She's a sweet, smart, and popular teenager. He's a bloodthirsty vampire. Mix in some werewolves, a few near-death experiences, and the cruel politics of high school, and the result is publishing gold.
"It's very well-written and the love story appeals to a lot of people -- young adults and adults as well," said Sarah Harkins, district marketing manager for Borders, Inc.
Much like Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling's rags-to-riches story, Meyer's life took a fairy tale turn. Four years ago, she was a stay-at-home mother of three with no writing experience. Then one night, she had a fateful dream about a vampire's confession of love to a girl.
"It was a sweet, kind of tender moment," said Meyer, recounting the dream. "But there was this dark side to it because he was also admitting how much he had wanted to kill her from the first day he met her."
That dream would eventually become chapter 13 in her first bestseller, "Twilight." A sequel, "New Moon," would follow.
Meyer's themes are admittedly dark, but she says her books are about life, not death -- love, not lust.
In fact, this devout Mormon is a self-described "chicken," too squeamish to sit through gory vampire movies or even read Bram Stoker's "Dracula."
"My books are all completely coward-proof. If you're frightened, you can still read them," she said.
Meyer has sold more than a million-and-a-half copies of her three books and is writing at least two more novels. But she downplays the obvious Harry Potter comparisons.
"I don't think that Harry Potter needs to feel threatened," said Meyer.
Still, this underdog love story and its Cinderella author have many readers saying, "Harry who?"