Meg Cabot may be the hardest-working woman in the book business. To date, she has published more than 50 novels (for teens, preteens and adults) and shows no sign of slowing down. Her books beget sequels, spinoffs and both Hollywood and made-for-TV movies. She blogs. She tweets. She maintains a dauntingly thorough website, where she welcomes readers into her personal life and behind the scenes of her novels.
Cabot is probably best known for her Princess Diaries series, which launched in 2000. The novels feature the goofy and endearing Mia Thermopolis, an ordinary high school student who suddenly discovers she's heiress to the throne of Genovia, a small European country. The wildly popular (and absolutely charming) books became two movies, each starring Anne Hathaway as Mia and Julie Andrews as her formidable grandmother. Cabot could easily have rested on her laurels; instead, she kept writing and publishing at a breakneck pace. More serial novels for young adults, a series for tweens, and several books aimed at adult readers followed in stunning succession.
Her latest series, this one for adults, follows the adventures of Meena Harper, a soap-opera writer and vampire hunter torn between the devastatingly attractive Lucien Antonescu — son of Dracula himself — and Antonescu's sworn enemy, the vampire hunter Alaric Wulf. Like all of Cabot's books, Insatiable and Overbite (the latter just released this week) are pitch-perfect: frothily addictive, glamorous but also down to earth, and grounded in solid research.
Cabot recently answered questions by email prior to her appearanceThursday, July 7, at the Nashville Public Library.
You are stunningly prolific, with new books coming out this summer (Overbite), next spring (Abandon), and several more in the works. How do you get all this done? Can you describe a typical writing day?
I actually have so many people who help me on an almost daily basis — from publicists to personal assistants to a housekeeper who also cat-sits to, of course, my fabulous husband who does all the cooking; he supported me while I was trying to get published, and then, once that happened, I agreed to support him, especially after he went to culinary school! — which makes my accomplishments much less impressive. I just do one thing: write books. I don't even have kids. Just two horribly behaved cats. So that makes it much easier to write from 10 to 5. On the days that actually happens, which is less and less often, lately.
One of the greatest joys for a bookish child is reading all the way through a series — falling in love with a set of characters and a storyline and then following it through a stack of books. You're such a wonderful serial novelist that I can't help but wonder: Which series books did you love growing up?
I grew up in a college town (Bloomington, Ind.) — which got me in trouble as a kid since I wanted to read nothing but what some people considered "junk" — Spiderman and Star Wars comic books, Anne McCaffrey sci-fi and fantasy novels (and also Nancy Drew and romance novels, of course). But I was also quite lucky because I lived in the same neighborhood as (and babysat for) English and women's studies distinguished professor Susan Gubar, who introduced me to Louisa May Alcott's "smutty" books (the ones she wrote pre-Little Women) in addition to her own feminist text (along with Sandra M. Gilbert), The Madwoman in the Attic, which led me toward many "classics" that I adored (Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë) in addition to my beloved "junk." ...
How is writing for teens and tweens different from writing for adults?
I was really into acting as a teen, and I think it's a lot like that: As a writer, just like as an actress, you try to get into the character. I don't have curse words or kissing in my Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls series (it's targeted for middle-grade readers) because at that age I wasn't allowed to curse or kiss anyone (yucky)! My books for teens don't have curse words (beyond pretty mild stuff) for the same reason: My dad would have killed me if he caught me cursing back then.
With my adult books, I try to think how I'd feel if I, as a career girl in Manhattan, ran into a hot vampire — then a hot demon hunter showed up, wanting to kill us both. I'd probably swear — but not too much, out of respect to my dad.
To read an uncut version of this interview — and more local book coverage — visit Chapter16.org, an online publication of Humanities Tennessee.
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