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Her youngest son, Eli, 5, chimes in.

"Eclipse is coming out!! But I don't know, I don't know what . . ." he says before his mom cuts him off.

"You can't talk about it, Eli," she reminds him.

"Um, I don't know what comes after Breaking Dawn [the fourth book]," he finishes meekly.

Meyer pauses for a second, then hugs him and laughs: "I don't know either."

Watching her at home with her kids, it's easy to glimpse what life was like before she became a famous writer. Back when she was just Mom to Gabe, Seth, and Eli, now 10, 6 and 5. Back when she was just Sister Meyer to her friends in her ward, the word for congregation in the Mormon Church.

Big families are the norm in the LDS faith — Meyer has five brothers and sisters — but she's not planning on having more kids. She said she might adopt a girl in the future. It would be fun for her to have a little girl, but for now, she lets her fans act as surrogate daughters.

"It makes me want to adopt a teenage girl," she says. "It would be so nice to have a girly-girl around. Someone to go see Waitress with. It's nice because I get to have a million teenage daughters."

She was born in Connecticut, and her family moved to the Valley when she was 4. Her dad had a new job as a finance manager. Meyer had what she describes as a typical Mormon upbringing. There are six kids in her family — three girls, three boys — and Meyer is the second-oldest in an incredibly close family. The world has always been a crowded place for her, something that translates into her books. No character, except for Bella, is ever really alone.

"When you grow up in a big family, there's always someone to hang out with," she says. "I babysat my brothers and changed diapers. I used to have mom nightmares about my brothers — when you're a mom you have nightmares about terrible things happening to your kids and you can't stop them. I had those about my brothers."

Those maternal tendencies have carried over into her life with her three boys. Eli explains the way his family works:

"Gabe is the boss of us [Eli and Seth] and mom is the boss of us all," he says.

"Yep, I'm the boss of everything," she says.

"Uh huh. And of dad," Eli adds.

Though a lot has changed for her family since her career took off, she still manages to stay home with the kids. During the day, she works on editing her novels — a task she can leave to intervene in a snack-time crisis — and does her fresh writing at night after the kids are in bed.

When she's on the road, Pancho becomes Mr. Mom, balancing a tight schedule of getting the kids to and from school and getting himself to work. Luckily, Stephenie's parents are willing to help out, and she's in the process of hiring a personal assistant to help with the kids and some of the chores that come with fame (updating her MySpace page, for example.)

"The more I travel, the harder it gets," she says. "My kids are complacent. They make it easy, but I do feel bad. They play a lot of video games."

At that moment, the boys, tired of hiding in the guest room while a reporter bugs Mommy, come bursting into the room.

Seth is wearing a homemade superhero costume, from back when Meyer still had time to sew. He says he's "Animal Time," a hero he invented. As he jumps on the couch, he explains that he has all the powers of every animal in the world and can talk to them, too.

Eli brings out a book about cars and starts explaining that he likes Porsche the best. "I know every car in the whole world," he brags.

They don't seem very impressed that their mom is going to be in the newspaper.

"Gabe is old enough to remember before and after, and his teachers get excited and send books home to get signed, but he's very blasé about it at home," she says. "The two little ones don't know anything else, so they think everyone's mom is the same."

One thing that hasn't changed is Meyer's commitment to her Mormon faith.

"It's not a church that's low on time commitments," she says.

That means three hours of church on Sunday in addition to teaching a class for the 14- to 18-year-old kids in her ward.

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Megan Irwin
Contact: Megan Irwin