Exclusive Q&A With Meg Cabot!
SheKnows was thrilled to visit the best-selling author of The Princess Diaries andthe Airhead series. Cabot took time out of her busy schedule (as I’m typing this, she’s jet setting out to LA for her current book tour) to talk Runaway, the third and final Airhead book.
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Meg's mustsSheKnows: Must have beauty product?
Meg Cabot: Vaseline. I never leave home without it!
SheKnows: What's in your handbag?
Meg Cabot: Well, Vaseline, also mini-Heath bars and about twenty-nine cents and some keys.Something readers would be surprised to know about you?
Meg Cabot: When I read books, I skip over descriptions of things or people that are more than a couple of sentences long. Sometimes I get mail from younger readers asking for full, detailed descriptions of my male characters. They want to know their astrological signs and birthdates, favorite colors, shoe size, pant size, etc. And I'm like, "Am I doing this wrong, or something?" I know other authors go on and on about their male characters sculpted muscles much more fully than I do. But seriously, this is the stuff I skip in other people's books. I feel like readers should be able to put it together for themselves that the guy is hot by the reactions of the other characters and the dialogue. Do I really have to mention his birth date and describe every ripple? I always thought less is more.
SheKnows: Your thoughts on social media and how it helps or hinders you as a writer?
Meg Cabot: Well, I certainly appreciate how it's enabled me to connect with readers. I love blogging and Tweeting. But it's so addictive! I can't stop looking at everybody else's pages! She's at the mall now and she didn't ask her BFF to go with her? OMG, she's mad! So I'm under strict "No Looking" rules now. I just post and get out. Otherwise, I'd never get any work done. I was on other people's Facebook pages for three hours the other day. Three hours! Did you know there's a Facebook page for people who have run into that weird lady in the CVS parking lot? Well there is because I went there because I ran into her and so did a bunch of other people. So I've had to go cold turkey. I worry about teens. I mean if I can barely handle it, how are they coping?
SheKnows: In an age where there are so many distractions, and everything's going digital, what do you think a story needs to compel readers (especially teens) to pick up a book and read it?
Meg Cabot: I think people want something that grabs their attention from the very first page, but that ultimately turns out to be original, not gimmicky, and genuine, and speaks from the heart!
SheKnows: Must have tech gadget?
Meg Cabot: I no longer have a cell phone that connects to the Internet for obvious reasons. I have a MacBook Air, but I leave it at home. I will not be getting an iPad.
SheKnows: Favorite place to write?
Meg Cabot: My bed.
SheKnows: Dream vacation?
Meg Cabot: My bed with my remote control and bag of mini-Heath bars.
SheKnows: Describe the Airhead series in three words.
Meg Cabot: Smart girls rule.
YA fiction: "Always popular"
SheKnows: We are curious to hear your thought on YA fiction and how it's becoming popular for people in their 20s and even 30s. (Referring to the LA Times article on March 8). We would love to get your thoughts on this trend and what "older" readers might find appealing in her books.
Meg Cabot: YA isn't becoming popular outside its target audience. YA has always been popular outside its target audience. It's just that because of the Internet, social media, and especially book blogs, older readers can communicate with one another, and go, "Oh, hey, this was good. Have you read this?" and spread the word about books that they might not otherwise have heard of. I think the media is just starting to catch on, and go, "Hey! Kids aren't the only ones reading these books! Wow!" My mom read anything I brought home by Judy Blume or Paula Danziger. My dad used to read YA (The Chocolate War, Man Without A Face, anything by SE Hinton). What all these books have in common is that they're short, sharp, insightful reads by brilliant story-tellers who don't take (unlike a lot of so-called adult authors) 400 pages to get to the point. People have less and less time to devote to pleasure reading and shorter attention spans overall (and like I said earlier, I personally don't have the patience for long-winded descriptions. I dare anyone to find a description in a Judy Blume book that is more than one sentence long, and yet you fully know every one of her characters).
The average page count for a YA is 55,000. For an adult book, it's 100,000. Certainly there are longer YAs, such as the Harry Potter books, but for the most part, they are rare. If I were to hand in a 100,000 word YA, my editor would karate chop me in the neck. I think there has always been a certain segment of readers who were looking for good reads that they could finish in a relatively short time. YAs have always promised this, while at the same time usually offering "substance," something often not found at all in many adult titles. That being said, my dad also liked to read spy thrillers, my mom enjoyed celebrity memoirs, and I'll read anything by Chelsea Handler. Sometimes you want a little substance. Sometimes you don't. It's nice that we live in a world where there's a little something for every mood!
For more fun on Meg, check out why she thinks she's absolutely un-photogenic with her 5 Things About Meg Cabot from our SheKnows Book Club bloggers Liz and Lisa. And her website, is loaded with fun for fans: http://www.megcabot.com
more SheKnows author interviews