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Meg Cabot
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Meg Cabot   Meg Cabot is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Princess Diaries (which was made into two Walt Disney movies, published in over 40 countries and voted as one of England's 100 best-loved novels), the Airhead trilogy, The Mediator Series, 1-800-WHERE-R-U series (which was the basis for a TV series called Missing), and Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls. She's sold over 15 million books worldwide and has received the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award and the American Library Association's Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers. Meg donated all of her proceeds from the Princess Diaries companion novel, Ransom My Heart, to Greenpeace.

Buy Meg Cabot's Books at the following locations: (downloadable audio books) (independent bookstores)
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This episode originally aired on 10/22/2009 with the following authors:
Note: The following interview has been transcribed from The Author Hour radio show. Please excuse any typos, spelling and gramatical errors.

Interview with Meg Cabot

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Matthew Peterson: My next guest is Meg Cabot, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Princess Diaries, the Airhead trilogy, The Mediator Series, the 1-800-WHERE-R-U series, and Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls. Sheís sold over 15 million books worldwide and has received the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award and the American Library Associationís Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers. Thanks for being on the show today, Meg.

Meg Cabot: Hey, thanks for having me.

Matthew Peterson: Letís start out with the Airhead trilogy. Now Airhead came out last year and was nominated for the Teen Choice Book of the Year. I totally got the wrong impression of this book. Iíd seen the cover here and there, but I didnít pay much attention to it. I actually thought it was something like Gossip Girl.

Meg Cabot: Yeah. Well, thatís the point of the book is that the model on the cover looks like an airhead, and itís called Airhead, but itís actually about a girl who is really brainy and smart and is kind of perceived as a brainiac and thinks of pretty girls as airheads. And then suddenly sheís trapped in the body of one and realizes that you shouldnít judge people by how they look.

Matthew Peterson: And someone told me that. And I was like okay, so how did that happen? How did she actually swap....

Meg Cabot: Yeah. The book is actually about brain transplants, itís actually sci-fi. So, the cover is a little misleading. ĎCause I think, you know, I actually wanted to pull in that audience. As well as get my hardcore Mediator fans, which is a series of books about a girl who kind of kicks butt and she sees ghosts and she has to get them to go to the other side. I wanted to pull into the Princess Diaries audience and also the Mediator fans. So, this book kind of combines both those elements. Itís kind of got fashion, but then it also has the fact that this brainy girl gets into this horrible accident, the upshot is that her brain is transplanted into this teen modelís body by this evil corporation and she has to find out why this happened and how it happened and who did it and get out of the situation. So, itís actually kind of a dark mystery. But then she also has to go fashion shows. [laughs]

Matthew Peterson: [laughs]

Meg Cabot: So, itís kind of weird, itís like dark, thereís this romance too, where sheís in love with this guy, but he doesnít know that sheís her. And she canít tell him that, you know, that sheís not this horrible model who he hates. And it happened as I woke up one day and I was like, I hate my body and I hate my hair. And I think every girl feels that way, and guys too. And wouldnít it be great it I were this super model instead and Iíd love to get my brain transplanted into one. But whatís the moral implications of this? And thatís what this girl is living through. You know, theyíve done this to her. And actually thereís murder involved in it, when book two, Being Nikki, came out we find out that there has been a murder. And, you know, did they just throw this girlís brain away? And now Iím working on Runaway, which is the third book in the trilogy, where this happens even more, I mean, if you donít like your body, could you have your brain transplanted into a beautiful personís body? And what is the moral implication of doing this?

Matthew Peterson: You know, there was a TV show a few years ago, my wife and I used to watch it, it was like our favorite show. And I canít remember the name . . . it might have been Now and Again?

Meg Cabot: Oh yeah, I remember that!

Matthew Peterson: The personís brain had been put into this, you know, handsome, strong, strapping person.

Meg Cabot: I do remember that!

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, and I think it was John Goodman who was actually the original person, you know, his brain. It was such an interesting story. I loved it. And then they just ended it. My wife and I were so upset. So this sounds like a really interesting concept.

Meg Cabot: Yeah, I like to take stuff that people made for adults and make it for teenagers.

Matthew Peterson: I have a younger niece that would kill me if I didnít talk to you about your Allie Finkleís Rules for Girls.

Meg Cabot: Aaahhh.

Matthew Peterson: And actually her name is Meg.

Meg Cabot: Aahh, thatís so cute. I love that name! Yeah.

Matthew Peterson: Well, tell us a little bit about that one. That oneís a little bit younger audience, not quite teenage, but a little bit younger. Tell us a little bit about that series.

Meg Cabot: Well, I started writing Allie Finkleís Rules for Girls because, I had so many little sisters of my teen seriesí fans wanting to read my books, but the teen series do have kind of a little bit older kind of things in them, like french kissing and stuff, that maybe their moms didnít really want them reading about. So, I thought, I need to write a series of books that donít have that. That the little sisters of these readers can read about, or that they can share with their big sisters or their moms. So, Allie Finkleís Rules for Girls is about a 4th grader. Sheís nine years old and sheís just kind of getting into that period where girls start being mean to each other and I think that really happens around 9 or 10, where they start kind of . . . girlís your best friend one day and sheís not your best friend the next day. And theyíre all kind of whispering about you. And so itís really, thereís rules for math and science, but thereís no rules for friendship. So, she starts keeping a little book on what the rules are for friendship. And thatís really what the bookís all about and really is about me, when I was nine and what I remember. But also, thereís a lot of girls that age in my neighborhood, so Iíve been spying on them.

Matthew Peterson: [laughs]

Meg Cabot: They all caught on of course.

Matthew Peterson: Yep. I did that when I was doing research for my young adult novel, Paraworld Zero. Iíd go to fast food restaurants. Iíd sit in there, listening to the kids in the booth next to me.

Meg Cabot: Isnít it fun? Yeah, theyíre all crazy, theyíre so fun. And thereís just crying, and drama and tears. And little boys do it too and so it is kind of universal around that age, is when all the friendship drama starts.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, oh definitely.

Meg Cabot: They get kind of mean. So thatís what Allie Finkleís Rules for Girls is. And I get letters all the time from little kids now who are reading those books and theyíre all like, ďCan you write more about fighting?Ē [laughs] ďI love the books, but they would be good if there was more fighting.Ē So, thereís lots more fighting in the future books Ďcause thatís what they do. And you know I always thought, when I was writing the teen books, ďGosh, you know, I never want to write for younger kids, because they donít have dances, and thereís no kissing, itís so boring.Ē But really itís not. Thereís such a huge well of drama to draw upon! And I completely forgot about it.

Matthew Peterson: I have two nine year old boys, theyíre twins. And believe me they are interested in girls.

Meg Cabot: Oh no! Really? Wow, Iíll have to tell the girls that, because they totally think all the boys hate them.

Matthew Peterson: Oh no no. They talk about girls.

Meg Cabot: Well, yeah because you know thereís no cussing. There was a kissing game going on in one of my books, Best Friends and Drama Queens, that there had to be a stop put to it. Basically it was all the girls would just chase one boy and try to kiss him and you know, he would pretend like he didnít like it. Now Iím wondering, maybe he did!

Matthew Peterson: Maybe he did!

Meg Cabot: According to you.

Matthew Peterson: Well, Meg, youíve written over like 50 books now and your most popular series definitely has to be the Princess Diaries, itís been published in over 40 countries, Walt Disney made 2 movies on it. It was even voted one of Englandís 100 best-loved novels.

Meg Cabot: Aaahh, yeah.

Matthew Peterson: I was interested . . . tell us a little bit how you got started with the Princess Diaries.

Meg Cabot: Well, that was funny because thatís a book that I started writing, really as a diary I was keeping myself. And I really started because my mom started going out with one of my teachers.

Matthew Peterson: Uh oh.

Meg Cabot: Disgusting, yeah, I mean it really was something that I started . . . it was a personal thing that I was upset about and I just started writing in my own voice. And actually the character was 30. [laughs] Surprise. And I passed it around to some of my friends and they were like, ďWell, this would be a lot better if she wasnít thirty, and maybe something else happens besides the fact that the girlís momís dating her teacher. And I decided to throw in this whole thing about her turning out to be a princess and I made her 14. Nobody wanted it! It got rejected everywhere. And I was like laughing. I would get these rejection letters that would say, ďThis is totally inappropriate for children and no we donít want it.Ē It was kind of hilarious. But finally she did find one editor who just started that day. And she said, ďI am going to take it.Ē But I had planned it on being this huge series and she was like, ďI can only buy one, Ďcause my boss wonít let me buy any more.Ē You know, and it turned out, of course. Then Disney wanted to make a movie based on it and of course then she got a promotion at work because of it! They did end up buying the whole series and it did much better than they did think it would do. Except for me, I was like, ďI think itís going to be great.Ē

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. [laughs] Well, I love hearing those stories. I talked to one of the editors who turned down Harry Potter. You know, so, I know it happens.

Meg Cabot: Yeah, I look back and I still have all those rejection letters. And I look back at them and Iím like, ďWow, that was a tough time!Ē

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, well youíve gotten a lot of books in the series now. Forever Princess came out earlier this year. The paper backís coming out soon. Do you plan on writing any more in this series?

Meg Cabot: I do, I would love to. I mean, I was surprised at how many letters I got from readers who were saying, ďPlease, please, please donít end it, and we would love to hear about Mia in college.Ē I really didnít plan on it going, though, passed her turning 18 and graduating from high school. So, I have no idea, like what could happen next. Really when I envisioned it that first year that I was writing it at work, I was like, ďOh this is great, this will go until she graduates from high school and thatíll be the end.Ē So, I donít know, I think though now because so many people have said, ďWell, why canít she? Why canít you write about her going to college?Ē I think, ďWell, yeah, actually, why canít I?Ē

Matthew Peterson: Thatís what the second movie is about.

Meg Cabot: [laughs] Yeah, the second movie wasnít based on any of the books and truthfully I never actually saw it because I was just like, ďThatís Disneyís vision and I donít want my integrity to be polluted by Disneyís vision.Ē So, I actually never did see it. So, now maybe I will watch it. But I donít know. I think maybe Iíll just let them have their separate vision. That can be theirs and Iíll keep mine pure.

Matthew Peterson: You know, I have seen the first one with Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews.

Meg Cabot: Yeah, itís adorable.

Matthew Peterson: But I havenít seen the 2nd one either.

Meg Cabot: Ok, maybe weíll just both be the only people.

Matthew Peterson: Weíll be the only two.

Meg Cabot: But I took the check, I was like, ďOh thanks! Thatís great!Ē

Matthew Peterson: Well, I have an idea what itís about, you know the name is Royal Engagement.

Meg Cabot: Yeah, apparently. Yeah, I have to say the guy that she ends up with is totally invented by Disney. Heís not in any of the books. So I was like, ďMm, no thatís not going to happen. Iím not going to watch it.Ē

Matthew Peterson: Another one of your series, 1-800-Where-R-You?, was the basis for a television series called, Missing.

Meg Cabot: Thatís right, yeah! And that also had nothing to do with the book. So, I kind of adopted, I think it was Ernest Hemingway who actually, I live in Key West, so I listened to what he said. He said, ďIf youíre going to sell a book to the movies, just drive to the border of California and drop the manuscript over the border get the check and drive away as quickly as possible.Ē

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, take the money and run.

Meg Cabot: [laughs] Have nothing to do with it. For your mental health, thatís what you should do. Because you know, you just have no control. But actually, I loved the first Princess Diaries movie. I loved, you know, Gary Marshall was so nice to me and Julie Andrews was just adorable and Anne Hathaway was so sweet. So, I think that I was really lucky.

Matthew Peterson: Well, you have been very fortunate because even though the movies are not quite like the books, the movies themselves have done phenomenally well.

Meg Cabot: Right.

Matthew Peterson: So, Meg, what are you writing now? What can we expect from you in the future?

Meg Cabot: Well, thereís the last book in the Airhead trilogy, Runaway, which is coming out in May 2010. So, I just finished writing that. And then, obviously, thereís more Allie Finkel coming, which is very exciting, Ďcause I love her. And sheís an adorable character. And then Iím writing more adult books. So, I have a new adult book called Insatiable, thatíll be coming out in the fall of 2010. Which, you know, I canít really tell you anything about, but I think itís going to be exciting and huge. And then Iím going to work on some more teen books. I think thereís a new series coming out called Abandon, thatíll be out in, hopefully, maybe 2010 or 2011, thatís going to be really fun. And itís going to be paranormal, so thatís going to be exciting.

Matthew Peterson: Well, good. Thank you! Iíve been speaking with Meg Cabot, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Princess Diaries, the Airhead trilogy, and Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls. Thank you for being on the show today, Meg.

Meg Cabot: Well, thank you for having me. It was super fun!

Matthew Peterson: Well, everyone head on over after the show to to hear more of Meg Cabotís interview. Shannan Hale, author of the Newbery Honor book, Princess Academy, is coming up next.

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