Interview: Meg Cabot
Current Mood: thirsty
Current Song: Fringe score music
Meg Cabot and I caught up recently. With her newest book being Forever Princess, the conclusion to her bestselling series The Princess Diaries, we talked a lot about princesses, but we also spoke of charitable works and literacy projects. I also found out what Meg would tell her younger self, if she had the chance. Keep reading to find out!
Since last we spoke, Mia Thermopolis has released a book and started a blog - with your help, of course! How are you feeling now that the final volume of The Princess Diaries has been released?
It's a little bittersweet, but I always planned for Mia's diaries to end when she graduated from high school. Of course, now that so many people have suggested writing about her life in college, maybe I will write something about that someday. But for now I'm happy with the series as it is -- though I do keep thinking of things "Mia" should write about in her diary!
But there's always her blog (however, I can't really be that forthcoming about her life in the blog because so many countries haven't got her last book out yet, and I don't want to give away details from the book online!).
All month long, tiaras designed by authors (including you!), artists, actors, and other celebs are being auctioned at cMarket, with all proceeds being donated to The New York Public Library. The money will be used for teen programs at various branches of the NYPL. How did this auction come about?
Well, I love the library, and always have since I was a little kid (my local library was within walking distance of my house and it was where my friends and I hung out most of the time all the way until I left high school).
Since library use is up 30% with the recession, but funding for them is way down, I was trying to think of ways to raise money for library programs, especially for teens, and my publicist recommended an auction. At first I thought she meant auctioning my Madame Alexander doll collection, but she meant of celebrity-decorated tiaras. I thought no celebrity was going to agree to do it, but actually, a surprising number of generous people participated!
How long did it take you to create your contribution?
My own tiara, which I will admit I had help with from my neighbor and assistant Nancy, took a long time. Several weeks. I wanted to do a floral design in keeping with Forever Princess's springtime and prom theme, plus the whole Greenpeace theme. We had to special order the flower glass beads from a bead website! They're each hand-glued then sewn onto the frame. Let's just say I had more input into the "design" aspect than the sewing part.
Who are your favorite historical princesses? Fictional?
I really like Princess Masako of Japan (the one who had the nervous breakdown--because who wouldn't under those circumstances, living in the Imperial Palace of Japan? She even had to give up her little dog to move there!) and Eleanor of Aquitaine and Queen Maud. I have a soft spot for Princess Beatrice of England, too, Fergie's daughter. Fiction-wise, of course I like Princess Leia best.
If you could spend a day in any of their shoes (or glass slippers, as it were), would you? Why or why not, and what would you do that day?
Well, I wouldn't mind being Princess Leia for a day and running around with Han Solo and a laser blaster, shooting stormtroopers! No, seriously, first I'd probably decriminalize drugs, because the war on drugs just isn't working as is. We have to treat, not jail, non-violent offendors. Then I'd make all the animal shelters no-kill (except in the case where the animal was suffering), and crack down on animal abuse (and also spousal and child abuse) and put the abusers in the jail cells where the non-violent drug criminals were, and get them counseling and education programs in the hopes of rehabilitating. I mean, that's just what I'd do for starters.
You spent December hanging out with the readergirlz, a fantastic online book community. I'm proud to be a part of readergirlz, and I hope you had fun chatting with readers and other authors at the forum. What was your favorite part of the experience?
I love readergirlz, and I always enjoy a chance to visit with them. I tried do a monthly book club years ago -- and I think Justina Chen Headley was one of the first authors I had there, for her first book, Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies) -- so I know how time-consuming and hard it is to run a site like that. Mine wasn't nearly as comprehensive though, and eventually I just gave up and changed it to message boards in general because it got to be too much with the writing and the traveling and the book club on top of it. So I truly admire the dedication of the readergirlz founders.
I guess the best part was seeing how many enthusiastic readers there are out there. That's always fantastic.
Best Friends and Drama Queens, your third book about Allie Finkle, is due out in March. How many books are scheduled in the series now?
I have three more books about Allie coming out, Stage Fright, a book about Allie's audition for her fourth grade play; a book about Allie's summer camp experience (spoiler: it does not go well); and a sixth book about Allie leaving Mrs. Hunter's Room 209 and starting fifth grade, which is going to be a little traumatic for her. I don't know if we'll see more of Allie after that. Maybe!
Being Nikki, the sequel to Airhead, comes out on May 5th. Will there be additional books in the line? Do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo? (Perhaps a holiday-themed signing is in your future! Or not.)
There'll be a third and final (for now) book, Runaway, out in Spring 2010 that should answer everyone's questions about the series. It was always planned as a trilogy. As for Cinco de Mayo, here in Key West we have big celebrations, so if I'm here, I'll be celebrating!
When writing, do you have a set schedule for yourself, like X pages before noon, or little rewards and breaks to keep you going? How do you find the time and motivation to do all that you do?
I would never force myself to do anything before noon because I'm not a morning person! But I do try to set reasonable goals by estimating the date the book is due and then figuring out how many words I have to write per day until the deadline, figuring in time off for lunch with friends, that kind of thing. For me eight to ten pages a day, double spaced, is a pretty do-able goal, but if I don't meet it, I don't beat myself up. I used to reward myself with chocolate but that got to be bad in the pants-fitting department, so now I get to look gossip up on the Internet or buy a glossy beauty magazine as a reward when I've met my writing goal for the day.
Do you have any resolutions and/or big plans for 2009?
I did get an actual 21 speed bike with a helmet and those bike shoes and all that stuff (well, my husband got them for me) and I'm supposed to start working out with them. I just have to wait until all the peppermint bark in my stomach settles.
If you could travel back in time and tell your ten-year-old self something, what would it be?
Believe it or not, I was quite shy and unhappy when I was little, so I would tell my ten-year-old self to cheer up and stop crying and that everything was going to be all right.
And your sixteen-year-old self? What would you say to her?
I would probably tell her to stop worrying so much too. I worried ALL the time, about EVERYTHING (some things I couldn't help worrying about, like my alcoholic father, although I wish I'd started going to AlAnon sooner. But other things, like getting into college, I stressed about because all my friends were stressing about it, or my parents were stressing me about it). I was super stressed, just like girls that age today. And looking back, I really wish I'd spent less time worrying, and more time hanging out with friends and letting the future take care of itself, since there was nothing I could do about it that I wasn't doing already anyway!
Read my 2008 interview with Meg Cabot.
Watch my 2010 video interview with Meg Cabot.
Visit Meg's website and blog. This interview is mentioned her blog entry called A Weekend in the Life of Meg Cabot.