Author Chat with Meg Cabot
Transcript of Live Chat
August 25th, 2005
NYPL: It is our pleasure to welcome Meg Cabot to our first Summer Reading Chat of 2005. Meg is a #1 New York Times best-selling author. She has written over thirty books for young people, including the wildly successful Princess Diaries, which were recently made into two movies by Disney. The Lifetime network currently broadcasts a series based upon Meg's 1-800-WHERE-R-YOU books.
megcabot: Thanks so much for inviting me here today! I'm really thrilled to be here, and not just because it means I get to take a break from working on the book I'm writing right now!
catherine: How did your own inner princess inspire Meg Cabot, the writer?
megcabot: Hi! My favorite princess has always been Princess Leia from Star Wars, so I've never believed in giving up on something I believed in, just like her! That's what kept me going when I kept getting rejected.
shaynaeastvillage: Hi Meg! Saw your BLOG!! I want to know more about your new books!
megcabot: Well! I can tell you that most of the books listed there are already done. I know a lot of people are worried I won't be able to write them all, but most of them are finished. I think you're going to like them.
catherine: Which music goes along best with your books?
megcabot: I think pretty much any kind. I tend to listen to female singers when I write, since the voice in my books is always female. But you can never go wrong with Eminem, either.
catherine: Do you really have 4768 unread email messages? Will you really get to read and answer them?
megcabot: Yes, I really do. I had a computer disaster this summer, and the emails kept piling up, and I could never access them. I don't know if I'll ever catch up, but I'm trying!
beuty: what is your favorite book you wrote?
megcabot: I love all my books the same, just like your mom loves all her kids the same (or so she says).
cappy: How many more Princess books will you write?
megcabot: As many as people will buy.
beuty: hi meg im one of your fans. i know meg isn't your real name so what is? will you please tell us?
megcabot: Um, Meg is my real name. My full name is Meggin Patricia Cabot. But everyone calls me Meg.
Margaret: Why do the movies take place in San Francisco instead of New York City?
megcabot: Because that is where Gary Marshall, the director, lives, and he wanted to work from home.
Lisa_G: Hi Meg, I love all of your books! Just wanted to know if you were planning to write any more Regency romances? Maybe ANOTHER remake of Pride and Prejudice?
megcabot: Oh, thanks! Those books were written for a special publishing line that has since folded. I will totally write more Regencies if someone asks, but so far no one else has (I mean, another publisher).
Christina: Hi. I would like to know what your favorite book of all time?
megcabot: Hi back atcha. My favorite book of all time is Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons. There is also a very cute movie based on this book, as well.
Manson2g4: so your book about Princess Diary is the same as the movie right?
megcabot: Well, the movie is BASED on the book, but they changed some things. For instance, Mia does NOT end up with Michael at the end of the 1st book in the series, and her father is NOT dead.
beuty: is some of the characters in your book really exist?
megcabot: You mean, outside of my mind? Yes, some of them are based on real people, if that's what you mean. For instance, my mom really is dating one of my teachers, like Mia's mom.
catherine: Who is Meggin Cabbage?
megcabot: You mean Maggot Cabbage. That was the mean nickname a girl gave me in the 4th grade. To learn more, read the short story CONNIE HUNTER PSYCHIC TEACHER that I wrote for a collection called FRIENDS. I'm sure you can find it at your library.
RW_JDesk: Hi Meg! I wanted to know how did you feel about the movies based on the Princess Diaries. Do you think they did them justice? I know my husband loves the first PD-movie.
megcabot: I loved them both very much, because even though they took some liberties with the characters and storyline, they stayed true to the theme of the books, which is be true to yourself. Also, I love Julie Andrews, and the thrill of my life was getting to meet her.
RW_JDesk: Yes, meeting Julie Andrews would be a thrill for me too. You got to meet Mary Poppins!: -)
Manson2g4: THANK YOU! MEGCABOT
megcabot: YOU'RE WELCOME MANSOON 2g4!
Christina: Another question, sorry if I'm bothering you. Haha. But do you think one of these days you can come to the Teen Center at the Donnell Library and talk to us face to face?
megcabot: Well, I live in Florida now, so that would be a long commute. But I hope I'll be able to one day!
seward1: which movie star would you choose for the Susannah?
seward_park2: Do you ever base your characters on a particular actor? Like, do you picture your books as movies already?
megcabot: No. I don't think of my characters as actors because by the time book comes out, whatever actor I might have had in mind would be too old to play that character anyway.
beuty: what is meg cabots real name?
megcabot: You guys. Seriously. Meg Cabot is my real name. You must believe me.
beuty: did you have a journal when you were young just like mia
megcabot: Absolutely, and large chunks of Mia's diary is based on mine from when I was her age (everything except the princess stuff).
seward1: What inspired you to be an author?
megcabot: I was whooly unfit to do anything else, having gotten a 410 on my math SATs, which at that time was the lowest score you could get. Or just about.
RW_JDesk: I believe you. I think any teenage girl's diary is perfect for a book and a subsequent movie. ;-)
catherine: Since you live in both, which city is best; New York City or Key West Florida? Why?
megcabot: Wow! Tough question. Both have great features, but neither is perfect. When I am in New York, I miss the beach and the pool and the balmy weather and relaxed atmosphere of Key West. But when I'm in Key West, I miss the delicious food and the hustle and bustle of New York.
beuty: do you always work on your books during all you spare time?
megcabot: No, mostly I swim, ride my bike, or watch TV in my spare time. Also I go out to eat for almost every meal.
RW_JDesk: I got less than a 410 on my SATS and now I'm a librarian. Writing, I think is way cooler. Anywho...you're quite a prolific writer so I think you made an excellent career choice. The teen girls in our library love your stuff.
megcabot: Wow! I'm always excited to meet a fellow low scorer on the SAT! I am very glad you found your niche. And thanks for the kind words. Fortunately, I found that I am able to do math now if I think of it in terms of money. In fact, the heroine of the book I have coming out next summer, HOW TO BE POPULAR, has this same strange ability.
Christina: What's your favorite movie?
megcabot: Well, I really like Star Wars (A New Hope) but I also like tons of other movies. I just recently saw the movie Anchorman and it cracked me up. The movie I think most sums up my life is called REALITY BITES.
Christina: Haha. I LOVE Anchorman. It is just hilarious.
Manson2g4: i got 300 in my Math but then got a 499
andaneh: Hi Meg Cabot. Would you rather write or travel around the world to sign books that you wrote?
megcabot: I would much rather write. But if it will help encourage people to read my books, I am willing to take a break from writing to travel around the world (under certain conditions, first class airplane seats being one of them.)
catherine: What was your first job?
megcabot: I was the salad bar attendant at Rax Roast Beef. I had to wear green polyester pants and a visor. I quit after 3 days.
Manson2g4: You like Star Wars? I like them too....all 6 movies
seward1: which characte are you the most like?
megcabot: There is a little bit of me in all of my characters, but as to which character was I most like in high school, it was probably Jenny from Teen Idol.
beuty: how much of a profit do you make per book?
megcabot: I think authors get about 10% of every book they sell. So if a book costs you $10, the author is only getting about a $1 of that money. Usually less.
seward1: what was your fave subject in school?
megcabot: I liked art. I wanted to be an illustrator when I grew up (or a veterinarian). But neither worked out. Fortunately I always wrote books as a hobby, and one day I decided to try to sell one. Many rejections later, I finally did. Now I'm a writer, and my hobby is my job.
beuty: its unfair the salary you get after so much hard work
Christina: Wow. Only 10%?! That's just way wrong.
beuty: sorry about the question on your real name but in teen idol, on the back it said it wasnt your real name.
megcabot: No. I believe it said I had written some books that WEREN'T under my real name. Those books were written under the name Jenny Carroll, which is my dead cat's name. All of my books have since been rereleased under my real name, Meg Cabot, except the smutty ones I don't want my grandma to know about. Those will never be rereleased.
Christina: What do you think about authors who choose to remain 'anonymous'?
megcabot: I think they must have grandmas like mine who would be really mad if they read their book, because it was smutty, or whatever.
Lisa_G: Would you ever teach creative writing?
megcabot: Actually, I have. It's really hard and I would much rather write fiction than teach it. I really admire teachers. They are the hardest working people out there (aside from cops and nurses and firemen and, of course, librarians).
Manson2g4: can i ask how old are you, or what range you are in?
megcabot: I am 38 and a half.
seward_park2: if you were not an author, what else would you be?
megcabot: I think I would probably work in a cool vintage clothing shop, where I would get first pick on all the clothes that are brought in.
shaynaeastvillage: Besides yourself, who is the hottest writer of the moment?
megcabot: Lookswise? Sebastian Junger.
Christina: 38 YEARS YOUNG!!
Manson2g4: thats my moms age..sorry but its true
andaneh: what do you do in your spare time beside writing ?
megcabot: Online chats.
Christina: I wanted to be a vet too. Until I got interested in Marine Biology.: )
megcabot: Ooooh! Marine biology is cool. I am going to do a marine biology book set here in Key West someday. I hope.
beuty: are you a fan of harry potter?
megcabot: I love La Potter, as I like to call him. I am looking forward to the 7th book and also the 4th movie looks great from the trailers.
Christina: It's awesome how you on your spare time you talk to fans of your work.
seward_park2: since you like art why don't you add art to your books
megcabot: Ha! Who says I haven't? Wait till you see Princess Diaries 7, PARTY PRINCESS, next March. There's some art in it, purportedly drawn by Mia...but really, it's by me.
seward1: what is your fave T.V show?
megcabot: Right now? Rescue Me, starring Denis Leary. I also like MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEEN on MTV, and of course Gilmore Girls.
Christina: Today I am starting to read the first 'La Potter' (lol) book.
catherine: Who was your favorite writer as a teen? Who is your favorite writer now?
megcabot: My favorite writer as a teen were the fine people in charge of Spiderman comic books. But I also had a soft spot for Charlotte Bronte, as Jane Eyre was my favorite book then (it still is now). I think Harper Lee is a great writer, too. Now I have tons more favorites, including Susan Juby, Sue Townsend, Jasper Fforde, Richard Peck...really, too many to mention.
Manson2g4: i dont like this Potter dude....i like Star Wars better
seward_park2: i really like your books! ;>
krissi_88: are u writing a new princess diaries book? i've read all of those books.
megcabot: Well, thank you! Yes, I've just finished Princess Diaries 7 and a special edition called SWEET SIXTEEN PRINCESS about Mia turning 16. I'm getting ready to write Princess Diaries 8. In November, a special holiday book will be out called HOLIDAY PRINCESS about how Christmas is celebrated around the world (and Hanukkah and Kwanza, too).
bob: who's your favorite on Gilmore Girls
beuty: do you like books by judy blume such as are you there god its me Margaret?
megcabot: LOVE JUDY BLUME! You know she lives here in Key West, right? The first day I moved in, there was a knock on my door...and it was JUDY BLUME! That was right up there with getting to meet Julie Andrews. Judy is a goddess, and SO nice and funny. My favorite books of hers is Blubber. I could read it over and over. I think it should be required reading in schools.
krissi_88: i like her also
Christina: Judy Blume was my favorite author in 8th grade!
catherine: Have you ever gone into bookstores and asked for your own books?
megcabot: Um, yes. Many times. No one has ever recognized me though. Recently I went into a bookstore and offered to autograph copies of my book, and they wouldn't let me until I showed ID!
seward1: Are there any more of your books going to be movies
megcabot: Right now, a number of my books have been optioned, which means producers are writing screenplays on them. But none of those screenplays have been "greenlighted" by any studios.
Lisa_G: Since you like Cold Comfort Farm, have you also read I Capture the Castle? Even better.
megcabot: I loved Capture the Castle! Though I found the ending less than satisfactory. I am more a fan of the big happy ever after, I must say. I like Mary Stewart's books because of this.
seward_park2: What other books did you write beside Princess Diairies and The Mediator?
catherine: What's your favorite thing to do, besides writing?
Manson2g4: You should come to Teen Central and talk to us ....i really love your work
megcabot: Well, I will try, but between running my own book club online, and writing all the books I have due, I don't have a lot of time! I still have about 5,000 unread emails I need to get to, as well.
seward_park2: How come you also use the name Jenny Caroll besides Meg Cabot?
megcabot: Because I used to write for 2 different publishers, and had signed an exclusivity clause swearing I wouldn't write any books under the same name for rivals. Now I only write for one publisher, so all my books are under my real name.
seward1: what is your next book going to be about?
megcabot: My next two books Size 12 Is Not Fat, and AVALON HIGH, will be out in December 2005. For more about them, check out my blog on www.megcabot.com.
catherine: Did you ever write an advice column?
megcabot: I often do, in my online blog. Many of the letters asking for advice in my book TEEN IDOL are based one real letters readers have written me!
andaneh: bye Meg and everyone
catherine: Are you a fashionista? Do you wear a crown with your Lilly Pulitzer outfits?
megcabot: Ha! Someone reads my blog. No, I find the crown too much with Lilly.
catherine: Who do you think is the most influential person on the face of the planet right now?
megcabot: I think its you guys...the next generation of young people who are going to be in charge someday. I'm trusting you to make the right choices! I still want there to be a planet when I'm 80!
catherine: Is it true that you won't write about teen superheroes or vampires?
megcabot: Why, yes. I believe these topics have been totally covered by authors before me (primarily Joss Whedon). However, I am still open to witches. My first witch book will be out in December 2006. It's called Jinx.
seward1: By the way why did you make Jesse a ghost? (in the mediator)
megcabot: Because if he had been real, where would the conflict be? And are you so sure he IS a ghost? Have you read all 6 books in the series yet?
beuty: what is your email adress?
megcabot: Anyone can write to me at email@example.com. Whether or not I am every able to read your message is another story. It is better to visit me on my online book club when I have monthly live chats.
Christina: do you have a husband?
megcabot: I do. His name is Benjamin. His last name is NOT Cabot.
catherine: How has your mom, Jinx (Is that really her name?) inspired you?
megcabot: Ha! Jinx is her nickname. My mom is a great writer who once won the Seventeen Fiction contest (she beat Sylvia Plath). She loves to read and write, and passed that love on to me.
catherine: Which languages do your books appear in?
megcabot: A lot! I think 30 at last count.
catherine: Do you have a favorite sport?
megcabot: To watch or to play? I don't really watch any sports. I do like playing softball. But only when I'm at bat.
Christina: So you kept your maiden name?
megcabot: Indeed I did.
seward_park2: Do you believe in ESP, like Jess has?
megcabot: Sort of. I believe freaky things happen sometimes. I definitely believe in ghosts. We had one in my old house, and it was pretty funny.
Lisa_G: Since you're a Sue Townsend fan, di Adrian Mole diaries partly inspire you to write the Princess Diaries in diary form?
megcabot: I definitely kept Mr. Mole in mind when I started writing the books, but I really chose a diary format because a 12 year old my acquaintance at the time told me those were her favorite kinds of book (diary style).
catherine: :-) What's your favorite food?
megcabot: It used to be cheese pizza but now I am trying not to eat wheat. So just cheese.
bob: Now I'm sure he's a ghost
RW_JDesk: I think a crown goes with everything. I love the title of your new book, a Size 12 Isn't Fat. As a woman writer, do you ever feel the need to be a positive role model for girls? Or to create positive role models?
megcabot: Thanks! Size 12 is the first of what I hope to be a mystery series (a comedic one) about an assistant college dorm manager (it is based on my own experiences in the same job).
seward1: do you want to be a mediator?
megcabot: I would love to be one! Although it's a lot of responsibility.
seward_park2: how was it like having a ghost in your house
megcabot: Our ghost has a sense of humor. Every time we would fight, she'd make a cup go flying out of the cabinet, or the shower turn on by itself. So then we'd get distracted, and start laughing instead.
SheDevil: hiiiiiiiiiiii everyone
shaynaeastvillage: Since you live in Florida, have you ever been to that spooky town with the psychics, Cassadaga? Lots of ESP stuff there, I bet!
megcabot: I have never even heard of it! I'd be afraid to go! I don't want to know my future!
Christina: What's your favorite SODA?!
catherine: I know you like the authors, Judy Blume, Jane Austen, and Barbara
Cartlend, but which mystery writers do you like?
megcabot: I really love Laurie R King's Mary Russell series, the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde, anything by Robert B Parker, Agatha Christie, Patricia Wentworth, Ngaio Marsh, and Victoria Thompson. I basically like just about any mystery with a happy ending.
RW_JDesk: was that really a ghost or some weird telekinetic power of yours, like Carrie? lol.
megcabot: Sadly, I think it was a ghost, since it has never manifested itself before in any house I have ever lived in. Besides, all the neighbors knew about it when I told them, and said, "Oh, yeah. That's Mary, she used to live there." So it was the ghost of Mary.
megcabot: Either that or just a very unstably built house.
seward1: i kind of wanted your ghost to be a boy like Jesse(also in the mediator)
megcabot: So did I.
catherine: What's the hardest thing about being a writer... do you get up and write every day?
megcabot: Yes, when I have a book due I write every day. The hardest part, for me, is when my editor hands my book back and says it doesn't work as it is and I have to rewrite it. I HATE that.
catherine: Did you go to college? If so, where....
megcabot: I went to Indiana University. It was free because my dad taught there. I majored in Fine Art, since I wanted to be an illustrator.
beuty: i got cut off from the internet for a while. anyway, how much money did you get as an allowance
megcabot: Here are some sad statistics: only 2% of all published writers make enough money from book sales alone to live on. I am lucky enough to be one of them. So if you are planning on being an author, know that you only make about 6-10% off each and every book sold. That isn't always enough to live on if you only sell a few books. So get a back up career, just in case. I recommend medical school.
Christina: What's your favorite thing to do when you come to New York?
megcabot: I like to eat at Peking Duck House in Chinatown; shop at Betsey Johnson on Wooster; order in Indian food from Baluchis; smell the bread at Hot and Crusty (but I can't eat anymore); and visit Washington Square Park.
seward1: what would you what your name to be ( besides Meg )
megcabot: Hmmm. The name JK Rowling would be nice.
RW_JDesk: that's a crime how little an author gets paid per book. i mean it's a craft. you should be better compensated. Ever think about doing advocate work on getting writers' better wages?
seward_park2: do you like to watch cartoons
megcabot: I do. I am fond of anime, as is revealed in my newest book, READY OR NOT, in which the heroine, Sam, works in a video shop that is based on KIM'S VIDEO on Bleecker in NYC.
seward1: when you were writing the mediator,how did you imagine Jesse?
beuty: did you read the chicken soup for the teenage soul?
megcabot: I have not, not being a teenager myself.
seward1: who's Lilly Pulitzer?
megcabot: A cool clothing designer. But her clothes don't work in NY< they are too Floridian.
seward_park2: do you read any manga?
megcabot: I do. I am reading Warcraft and Peach Fuzz right now.
shaynaeastvillage: Your cat Henrietta is so cute? Do you have any other pets? Do you like poodles?
megcabot: Thank you! My mom used to have a poodle, but he died of old age. I did like him very much. Right now I just have Henrietta. However for some reason a neighbor's cat has begun living on my back porch (it couldn't possibly be the Fancy Feast I fed it when I thought it was a stray). So I guess I have two cats now.
seward_park2: what are you currently working on right now?
megcabot: Thanks for asking! I am trying to finish a book called QUEEN OF BABBLE, about a young woman who has a very big heart, but also a very big mouth, and keeps getting into trouble because of it. It will be out at this time next year. It will be my first adult hard cover. It's also the first in a series about this character, Lizzie Nichols.
seward1: what do you think of Peach Fuzz?
megcabot: I don't know, I'm only on page 3! I think that's a weird name for a book though.
megcabot Looks like it's about time to start tying things up! Thanks so much for having me here, guys, and I will definitely stop by Teen Central to see what's up, if you'll stop by megcabot.com (it's getting a new look at the end of September) and megcabotbookclub.com! It's been GREAT chatting with you all!
krissi_88: bye meg cabot!!!
NYPL: Thanks for joining us today Meg. This was a real pleasure. Do you have anything else you want to add?
megcabot: No, except--Bye everybody! Have a great rest of your summer (what's left of it)!
NYPL: Join us for our next chat with Joan Bauer on Wednesday, August 31, 2005 @ 2:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Her books have won numerous awards including the Newbery Honor Medal, the Christopher Award and the Golden Kite Award of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Joan's books have been featured on many booklists including The New York Public Library's Books for the Teen Age, School Library Journal's Best Books, VOYA's Perfect 10s and the American Library Association's Best Books for Young Adults. Rules of the Road was selected as one of the top young adult books of the past 25 years by the American Library Association.