Meg Cabot e-interviewed by Kerrily Sapet (June, 2006)
Meg Cabot is the wildly popular author of close to forty novels for younger readers and for adults, including The Princess Diaries series (made into popular Disney movies), The Mediator series, and the 1-800-WHERE-R-YOU series. She has just released Queen of Babble, starring Lizzie Nichols.
Lizzie graduated with a degree in the history of fashion - well almost graduated. She discovers she needs to write a thesis, but she can do that on vacation. She's off to England to meet up with her boyfriend Andrew. Convinced Andrew is husband worthy, Lizzie has sudden doubts when she catches Andrew committing serious fashion faux pas, forgetting that she despises tomatoes, and worse still defrauding the government. Lizzie flees to visit her friend Shari, who is spending the summer in a French villa. On the train she meets devastatingly-handsome Jean-Luc, and things begin to get interesting.
In a recent e-interview with New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to ask her some questions about Lizzie Nichols and The Queen of Babble.
Q: Lizzie Nichols graduates with a degree in fashion history. I love the fashion excerpts from her senior thesis as they range from control top underwear and togas to low-rise jeans. Did being born in university-town Bloomington, Indiana inspire an interest in self-designed, somewhat off-the-beaten-track majors for this story?
A: Definitely. Although I'm not positive it was such a good thing where I was concerned. I majored in approximately ten different subjects over my six (!) years at IU. I myself was a fashion history major for a semester--although Lizzie's thesis is actually taken almost verbatim from a fashion history paper I wrote in high school for English. I finally settled on a Fine Arts major because ... no finals!
Q: Some of the situations in Queen of Babble are so wonderfully hilarious, such as when Lizzie clumps through a crowded train, attempting to speak French, laden with luggage. Are there any experiences woven into this book that are your own?
A: Ugh. Sadly, it's highly autobiographical. I always seem to pack too much, and I never seem to be able to find a seat on a train. That's why I prefer to fly--assigned seats! And like Lizzie, I didn't graduate on time, went on a "graduation" trip to Europe (though I hadn't really graduated) to see a guy I was dating but barely knew ... the list goes on and on.
Q: You are so well loved for your Princess Diaries series. Do you ever feel any pressure to live up the success of those books?
A: Actually, the success of those books has enabled me to become more experimental with my fiction and try new things. Unless Julie Andrews stars in another movie based on my books, I don't think anything I write will ever be as popular, and that's just fine with me. I'm still super grateful I got to quit my day job to write full time!
Q: You are such a prolific, versatile writer, stretching across both young adult and adult contemporary fiction. Do you have a favorite genre you enjoy reading? Were there any specific books that inspired you to write?
A: I love, love, love mysteries. They're really all I read. Although I don't like them unless they have a strong romantic element, or at least a love relationship in them. I can't see there's any particular book that inspired me to write, but the original movie Star Wars definitely inspired tons of fan fiction (which I still have)!
Q: Girls everywhere have fallen in love with The Princess Diaries - both as books and movies. How did you get the idea for this series?
A: I got the idea from my mom, when she started dating one of my teachers. I was so freaked out, I started keeping a journal about it, and that journal eventually evolved into a fictional book about a girl who turned out to be a princess (I have always lied a lot in my own journals).
Q: Many of your books seem to have fairy tale elements to them. As a personal fan of happy endings, I love the twists and humor you add along the way. Is there something that draws you to that style?
A: I am a total insomniac, so while waiting for sleep to come at night, I make up stories to tell myself. I guess the stories I tell myself tend to have a strong element of wish-fulfillment in them--like, I always seem to be wishing I'd end up being a princess, or psychic, or a national heroine ... or that I'd run off to join my friend in France that time I went to England to see that guy and he turned out to be such a dud. These stories seem to stay with me after I wake up, so I usually end up writing them down. I do try to make them seem as realistic as possible!Find out more about the author and her books, and read Meg's Diary at MegCabot.com
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