Cincy Chic: You, yourself, fall in different generation than the one Queen of Babble targets. Do you have to tweak your writing style/communication to speak to that audience with such ease?
Meg Cabot: While I am no longer 23, the memory of what it was like to be 23 is still as fresh as if it were yesterday…possibly because it was such a traumatic age for me. So many people seem to look back on their 20s with fondness; maybe because their butts looked so good at that age, but I personally hated that decade. I mean, the pain of trying to find the right job, guy, apartment and all of that will forever be cemented on my memory. I wish I could forget it, actually; but instead, I seem to keep reliving it through my fiction. I guess that's cheaper than therapy.
Cincy Chic: Is there a common thread that weaves all generations of women together?
Cabot: I believe the answer to your question is Spanx and chocolate. But there are some women who seem unfamiliar with the former.
Cincy Chic: You've written more than 40 books, you travel non-stop, but you are still married and have a steady personal life. How do you manage to do it all and what words of wisdom do you have to offer other women out there striving for a happy work-life balance?
Cabot: Um, again we return to Spanx and chocolate, and to that I would add caffeine, Unisom and an incredibly understanding, highly intelligent and good humored husband. Seriously, it's impossible to do it all without help and sacrifice. You'll notice I don't have kids. I decided long ago something had to give, and that was my choice. Since my husband wasn't too keen on the idea of child-rearing either – we both have plenty of nieces and nephews – it ended up working out. But seriously, there has to be a lot of compromise. And snacks. And over the counter sleep aids.
Cincy Chic: From reading the excerpt on the back of your book, it looks like the main character overspeaks and starts a whirlwind of trouble, but she figures out a way to use her gift of gab for good use. Are you a Queen of Babble in real life? If so, do dish – what's the most memorable moment your babble put you in hot water.
Cabot: Ha! The book is incredibly autobiographical, and the sequel, Queen of Babble in the Big City, due out June 26, is even more so! In it Lizzie becomes convinced her boyfriend's mother is having an affair, and blurts out a few things that get her in even worse hot water than in the first book (not to mention, she realizes the boyfriend may not be Mr. Right after all). I would have to say the worst hot water I was ever in was when my agent emailed me to tell me that my German publishers weren't interested in The Princess Diaries, saying that diary books didn't sell well in Germany. And I e-mailed her back to say of course not, look what the Germans did to Anne Frank. And then I realized I'd hit "Reply All," and cc'd the German publisher.
Yeah. That didn't go over too well. (P.S. the books were published in Germany now and are selling very nicely, thank you very much)
Cincy Chic: What is your favorite word and/or book and why?
Cabot: My favorite word is, of course, dessert – the food, not the climate! That's self explanatory. And my favorite book is Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. It's hilarious and also I think true to life, even though it was written in the 30s.
Cincy Chic: Do you write about specific people from your real life in your book?
Cabot: No comment!
Cincy Chic: What is your writing process?
Cabot: Well, I usually don't start writing something until I've mulled it over in my head for about a year (obviously, while I'm doing this, I'm writing other things. I back-burner the other stories I'm planning). Occasionally, I'll jot down a detail or two, but I'm paranoid about the outlining process – writing down anything before the actual novel itself. Once I feel like I've got a solid idea for the opening scene, a firm ending and a semi-planned out path for how I'm going to get there, I'll grab my laptop and work on it from about 10a.m.-5p.m. every day – if possible – until it's done. I used to work in bed, but cat allergies have driven me outdoors to the back porch. Some days, I work on one of those chair floats in the pool with an AlphaSmart. I love those because you can't edit as you go along. That's usually when I get the bulk of my first draft done!
Learn more about Cabot at megcabot.com/diary