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"Princess Diaries' author to appear at Turn the Page bookstore

July 01, 2011|By MARIE GILBERT | marieg@herald-mail.com
  • Meg Cabot wrote The Princess Diaries, and has published books in genres such as romance, paranormal fiction and contemporary adult fiction.
Submitted photo

As a child, Meg Cabot was a Disney princess worshipper.

Her favorite fairy tale was "Beauty and the Beast," she had a Snow White cake for her sixth birthday and remembers drawing Cinderella endlessly on her notepads.

Today, Cabot is watching her own Cinderella story unfold.

She has become a best-selling author, hitting the jackpot when she penned "The Princess Diaries," a young adult novel that was adapted for the big screen.

But Cabot's writing success isn't just for kids.

She has published more than 60 books and has found success in a wide variety of genres.

Historical romance, paranormal fiction, contemporary adult — you name it and the Indiana-born author has probably written it.

Fans will have a chance to meet Cabot when she appears at a book signing event from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 9, at Turn the Page Bookstore in Boonsboro.  She will be joined by about a half dozen other authors, including Nora Roberts.

For those unable to attend the event, which marks the store's 16th anniversary, a live video chat with the authors will take place about an hour before the book signing.

While she has become somewhat of a writing machine, becoming a published author was never a goal, Cabot said.

She wanted to read books — not write them.

"I would read just about anything when I was a kid — from comic books like 'Star Wars' and 'Betty and Veronica' to sci-fi, fantasy and horror," Cabot shared.

"I even geeked out on the classics, too, like 'Pride and Prejudice,' 'Lorna Doone' and 'Ivanhoe.' I also loved Greek myths, especially the Myth of Persephone."

But Cabot never considered writing, "although I'm not embarrassed to admit I wrote ';Jane Eyre' fan fiction," she said.

Instead, she dreamed of becoming a veterinarian.

"Unfortunately, I flunked algebra and didn't do very well on the math portion of my SATs," she said. "So, I decided to study art."

After college, Cabot moved to New York City to pursue a career as an illustrator. 

While looking for work, she landed a job as a freshman dormitory assistant manager at New York University, which gave her plenty of free time. She filled that time by writing.

"Part of growing up is finding out what you're good at, although you might have to fail at a few things along the way," Cabot said. "I failed at ballet, softball, theater, art, singing, musical theater, social work, art therapy, just to name a few."

And when she finally decided to try her hand at writing, "I got rejected a jillion times. But because I loved writing more than anything, I was like, I don't care what anyone says. I'm going to keep trying.  And it worked."

Cabot said it took her three years of sending out query letters every day to get an agent and it took her agent another year to find her a publisher.

"I have a bag of rejection letters at home. I still get rejected, it's just a bit more kindly," she said.

Cabot's first novel, a historical romance called "Where Roses Grow," was published in 1998 and was written under the pen name Patricia Cabot. Several more romance books followed.

At the same time, Cabot was busy writing a book that would be her claim to fame.

"Growing up, I fantasized about being a real-life princess, often telling my mom and dad that my real parents, the king and queen, were going to show up one day in Indiana to find me," she said.

Years later, after her father died and her mother started dating one of her teachers, Cabot began keeping a diary. She decided to expand the diary into a story about a young girl named Mia whose own mother is dating a teacher. Mia's world is turned upside-down when she learns that her father is the prince of a small European country called Genovia and she is next in line to inherit the throne. The story became "The Princess Diaries."

The young adult novel was rejected numerous times until it was bought by HarperCollins and released in 2000.

"I never expected that book to take off the way it did," Cabot said. "I wrote it more as a joke. Well, the joke was on me."

A year later, the book had become such a worldwide sensation that HarperCollins signed Cabot to write more books in the Princess series.

Disney adapted the book into a feature film, "The Princess Diaries," which was released in 2001, starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews. 

In 2004, "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement," was released.

Cabot also has penned the "Avalon High" series, which aired as an original movie on the Disney Channel; "Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls" and "Queen of Babble" novels.

While these books have generated a huge young adult fan base, Cabot said, "I've been so lucky to have so many great readers from so many different age groups. I've had readers who've literally grown up with my books and are now passing them on to their kids or students and are reading my books for adults. That's an amazing feeling."

"And the truth is that much of what is in my books is taken directly from my own diaries that I kept when I was in elementary, middle, high school and college. I still have them, though I am the only one who will ever be allowed to read the real pages.  But it's thrilling to be able to share them with so many people — in selective bits and pieces — exactly the way they're sharing my books."

Cabot said she loves attending book signings and hearing from her readers.

"It's fantastic to be able to meet new readers and it's also really touching to see readers I've met before, sometimes as long as a decade ago," she said. "I love that."

She also stays in touch with her literary fans through email, Facebook and Twitter, she said.

Cabot said her latest book is "Overbite," a sequel to "Insatiable," her 2010 hit summer release about Meena Harper, a soap opera writer who discovers vampires are real.

"Now Meena has been asked to join the Palatine Guard, a demon-fighting unit of the Vatican," Cabot said.

But there's one hitch. Meena is in love with a vampire.

"You don't have to have read 'Insatiable' to enjoy 'Overbite,' but unlike a vampire, it won't kill you," she joked.



If you go ...

What: Turn the Page Bookstore's 16th anniversary book signing

When: noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 9

Where: Turn the Page Bookstore, 18 N. Main St., Boonsboro

More: Go to www.ttpbooks.com, click under events to read the bookstore's rules and etiquette

Scheduled to appear: Nora Roberts aka JD Robb, Deanna Raybourn, Leslie Parrish aka Leslie Kelly and local authors Robert Savitt, Kathy Weller and Bob Hilton

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