Cabot, Meg 1967-(Meggin Cabot, Patricia Cabot, Jenny Carroll)
Cabot, Meg 1967-(Meggin Cabot, Patricia Cabot, Jenny Carroll)
Born February 1, 1967, in Bloomington, IN; daughter of A. Victor (a college professor) and Barbara Cabot; married B.D. Egnatz (a financial writer), April 1, 1993. Education: Indiana University, B.A., 1991.
Office—P.O. Box 4904, Key West, FL 33041-4904. Agent—Laura Langlie, 275 President St., Ste. 3, Brooklyn, NY 11231. E-mail—[email protected]
Authors Guild, Authors League of America, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America.
Reviewers Choice Award, best British Isles historical romance, Romantic Times, 1999, for An Improper Proposal; cited among "Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers" and Best Book selection, both American Library Association, 2001, for The Princess Diaries; Edgar Allan Poe Award nomination in young-adult category, Mystery Writers of America, 2003, for Safe House; The Princess Diaries voted "one of the nation's 100 best- loved novels" by the British public as part of the "The Big Read," British Broadcasting Corp., 2003.
Nicola and the Viscount, Avon (New York, NY), 2002.
Victoria and the Rogue, Avon (New York, NY), 2003.
All American Girl, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.
Teen Idol, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
Ready or Not: An All-American Girl Novel, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.
Avalon High, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.
How to Be Popular, HarperTempest (New York, NY),2006.
Avalon High 2: Coronation: The Merlin Prophecy (manga), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007.
Pants on Fire, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007.
Jinx, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor of short fiction to anthologies, including 13: Thirteen Stories That Capture the Agony And Ecstasy of Being Thirteen, edited by James Howe, 2003; Girls' Night In, Red Dress Ink, 2004; Friends: Stories about New Friends, Old Friends, and Unexpectedly True Friends, edited by Ann M. Martin and David Levithan, 2005; Girls' Night Out, Red Dress Ink, 2006; Everything I Needed to Know about Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume, edited by Jennifer O'Connell, 2007; and Midnight Feast, HarperCollins UK, 2007. Contributor to Seventeen magazine. Author, with others, of screenplay for film The Ice Princess, produced by Disney.
"PRINCESS DIARIES" YOUNG-ADULT NOVEL SERIES
The Princess Diaries (also see below), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.
Princess in the Spotlight (also see below), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.
Princess in Love (also see below), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.
Princess in Waiting (also see below), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.
Project Princess, HarperTrophy (New York, NY), 2003.
Princess Lessons, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.
Perfect Princess, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
Princess in Pink, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
Mia Tells It like It Is (contains The Princess Diaries and Princess in the Spotlight), Avon Books (New York, NY), 2004.
The Highs and Lows of Being Mia (contains Princess in Love and Princess in Waiting), Avon Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Princess in Training, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.
Holiday Princess (nonfiction), illustrated by Chesley McLaren, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.
Party Princess, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.
Sweet Sixteen Princess, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.
Valentine Princess, HarperTempest (New York, NY), 2006.
Princess on the Brink, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.
"MEDIATOR" YOUNG-ADULT NOVEL SERIES
(Under pseudonym Jenny Carroll) Shadowland, Pocket Pulse (New York, NY), 2000.
(Under pseudonym Jenny Carroll) Ninth Key, Pocket Pulse (New York, NY), 2001.
(Under pseudonym Jenny Carroll) Reunion, Pocket Pulse (New York, NY), 2001.
(Under pseudonym Jenny Carroll) Darkest Hour, Pocket Pulse (New York, NY), 2001.
Haunted, HarperTrophy (New York, NY), 2003.
Twilight, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.
"1-800-WHERE-R-YOU" YOUNG-ADULT NOVEL SERIES
(Under pseudonym Jenny Carroll) When Lightning Strikes, Pocket Pulse (New York, NY), 2001, published under name Meg Cabot, Simon Pulse (New York, NY), 2007.
(Under pseudonym Jenny Carroll) Code Name Cassandra, Pocket Pulse (New York, NY), 2001, published under name Meg Cabot, Simon Pulse (New York, NY), 2007.
(Under pseudonym Jenny Carroll) Safe House, Pocket Pulse (New York, NY), 2002, published under name Meg Cabot, Simon Pulse (New York, NY), 2007.
(Under pseudonym Jenny Carroll) Sanctuary, Pocket Pulse (New York, NY), 2002, published under name Meg Cabot, Simon Pulse (New York, NY), 2007.
Missing You, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.
The Boy Next Door, Avon Trade (New York, NY), 2002.
She Went All the Way, Avon (New York, NY), 2002.
Boy Meets Girl, Avon Trade (New York, NY), 2004.
Every Boy's Got One, Avon Trade (New York, NY), 2005.
Size 12 Is Not Fat: A Heather Wells Mystery, Avon Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Queen of Babble, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2006.
Size 14 Is Not Fat Either: A Heather Wells Mystery, Avon (New York, NY), 2006.
Queen of Babble in the Big City, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2007.
Queen of Babble Gets Hitched, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2008.
Big Boned: A Heather Wells Mystery, Avon (New York, NY), 2008.
UNDER PSEUDONYM PATRICIA CABOT; ADULT ROMANCE NOVELS
Where Roses Grow Wild, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1998.
Portrait of My Heart, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1998.
An Improper Proposal, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.
A Little Scandal, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2000.
A Season in the Highlands (anthology), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2000.
Lady of Skye, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Educating Caroline, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Kiss the Bride, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2002.
The Princess Diaries was released as a feature film by Walt Disney Pictures in 2001, starring Julie Andrews. The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, a screen-play by Shonda Rhimes that was based on Cabot's characters, was released by Walt Disney Pictures in 2004. Cabot's book series "1-800-WHERE-R-YOU" was adapted as the Lifetime television network series 1-800-MISSING, directed by Michael Fresce, 2003. The "Princess Diaries" novels were adapted as audiobooks and released by Listening Library. The "Mediator" novels were adapted as audiobooks and released by Recorded Books, 2006. Avalon High was optioned for film by Walt Disney Pictures.
Meg Cabot is a popular writer who, in the novels she writes for teens, has a reputation for capturing the essence of the way adolescents think and talk. While Cabot is best known as the author of the "Princess Diaries," novel series, about a Manhattan teen, she also writes stand-alone novels with teen appeal, such as Teen Idol and How to Be Popular. Her novels in the "1-800-WHERE-R-YOU" series mix mystery with a supernatural element, while her other series fiction includes the "Avalon High," "All-American Girl," and "Mediator" books. How to Be Popular, which finds an eleventh grader attempting to overcome her klutz status with the help of an outdated self-help book, was praised by Booklist reviewer Carolyn Phelan as an"appealing, first- person story of teen yearning, befuddlement, and love."
In addition to her teen novels, Cabot also writes fiction for adult readers that is classified in the "chick- lit" genre; while inappropriate for younger teens due to their mature content, her romance novels published under the pen name Patricia Cabot have earned praise for containing elements of both mystery and romance, as well as for featuring characters whose humor and humanity engage readers interest and affection.
In the first volume of Cabot's "Princess Diaries" series, readers meet Mia, an awkward fourteen-year-old, often histrionic, and sometimes whiney New Yorker. Her ordinary troubles—a crush on the most popular boy in school, a flat chest, and an artist mom who is dating Mia's algebra teacher—are magnified the day her father shows up and reveals that he is a prince of Genovia, a small European country. Suddenly, Mia finds herself totally mis-cast; more ugly duckling than swan, she is nevertheless expected to carry herself like royalty and deal gracefully with the pressures that come from a life in the public eye. Many of her diary entries feature revelations concerning life as a princess, including taking lessons in how to act like royalty from her imperious grandmère and being followed around by relentless paparazzi. "Readers will relate to Mia's bubbly, chatty voice and enjoy the humor of this unlikely fairy tale," predicted Debbie Stewart in a review of The Princess Diaries for School Library Journal. While a Publishers Weekly critic found that Cabot's humor descends into "slapstick" on occasion, Chris Sherman wrote in Booklist that reading The Princess Diaries "is like reading a note from your best friend."
In his Booklist review of The Princess Diaries, Sherman praised Cabot's accurate rendition of contemporary adolescent slang, as well as her ability to create well-rounded, lovable characters, and concluded with a prediction that teens would "lin[e] up for this hilarious story." Teens did indeed line up, not only for the original novel, but also for the feature-film adaptations of the novel and its engaging sequels. Further "Princess Diaries" novels find Crown Princess Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo learning the finer points of acting regal while also coping with the everyday problems of being a teen: namely, homework, annoying relatives, and budding romance. Princess in Love finds Mia living in New York, attending Albert Einstein High, and wishing she could trade in her current boyfriend, Kenny, for a more suitably princely love interest. A date for the prom with new beau Michael Moscovitz is on her mind in Princess in Pink, as a citywide service workers' strike threatens to cancel the party and Mia's chance to wear her pink prom dress. Her relationship with Michael has lasting power, despite the stresses caused by her arduous math classes, but in Princess on the Brink a brutal pre-calculus class and college-student Michael's impending trip to Japan threaten to take their toll on Mia's love life.
Reviewing Party Princess in Kliatt, Carol Reich wrote that "Mia may be a drama queen, but she is still lovable and her hilarious diary entries couldn't be more enjoyable." Shelle Rosenfeld also commented favorably on Cabot's teen protagonist, writing in Booklist that "Mia's journal entries, filled with pop references &, are sure to entertain," while the teen's "romantic expectations & contrast humorously with reality checks." Praising the series as "a great bet for reluctant readers," Paula Rohlick added in Kliatt that Princess in Training ranks as "a particularly enjoyable episode in this irresistible series."
In her inaugural works in the "1-800-WHERE-R-YOU" series, Cabot exhibits the same winning characteristics she uses in her "Princess Diaries" books. In series opener When Lightning Strikes, sixteen-year-old at-risk student Jessica Mastriani has been struck by lightning and left with an ability to find missing children. Unfor-tunately, the government wants the teen to channel her psychic ability to find criminals, and Jessica turns to a handsome biker for help in eluding the federal authorities. "Jessica's thrilling first-person account of her adventure is enhanced by raucously funny teen observations," remarked Roger Leslie in Booklist.
Code Name Cassandra finds Jessica—now nicknamed Lighting Girl—attempting to escape the limelight and keep her special ability under wraps, until one of her charges at a summer camp for musically gifted children goes missing. Her gift becomes a curse in Safe House; not only does it make her stand out from the other students at Ernest Pyle High School, but she is quickly blamed when a popular cheerleader at school goes missing and winds up dead. Finally accepting that her ability makes her different, in Sanctuary the sixteen year old joins government agent Cyrus Krantz in the search for a missing child, while Missing You finds Jess finally following her dream of studying music at Juilliard. With her psychic powers now seemingly spent, the former Lightning Girl hopes to lead a normal life & that is, until her former hometown beau hunts her down with hopes that she can reunite him with his missing sister.
Cabot again employs a first-person teenage narrator in Shadowland, the first book in her "Mediator" series. Like the protagonist of When Lightning Strikes, Susan-nah "Suze" Simon has the mixed blessing of a sixth sense. Her special ability is as a mediator, which means putting ghosts in contact with the living world in order to resolve the conflicts between them. The only problem comes when she actually falls for Jesse, one of her spectral contacts. In Ninth Key Suze finds ghosts turning up everywhere, even in the past of her current human love interest, the dishy Tad Beaumont, while Jesse's long-dead fiancée is driven from her grave to haunt the teen mediator in Darkest Hour. Paul Slater, a fellow mediator with a jealous streak, becomes a threat in Haunted, while in Twilight Suze realizes that her powers extend beyond merely bridging the worlds of ghosts and humans. Now she is forced to chose between her own desires and those of her haunted lover.
In a review of Shadowland for Publishers Weekly, a critic noted that Cabot's "intriguing premise of a sixteen-year-old with a sixth sense may stand more than a ghost of a chance at snaring teen readers." Deeming Twilight "a page-turning good time," Stephanie Squicciarini added in Kliatt that "humor, suspense, love, and betrayal" all figure in Cabot's supernatural tale, result- ing in a novel "that is sure to please." Appraising the audiobook version of Shadowland for School Library Journal, Larry Cooperman noted of the "Mediator" series that "Cabot perfectly captures teenage angst and adventure with her ironic, yet sensitive and evocative writing."
In her light fiction for teenagers and young adults, Cabot often features journalists and other characters engaged in the writing profession. For example, Ready or Not: An All-American Girl Novel continues the story of high-school student Samantha Madison (first introduced in All American Girl) as she pursues her relationship with the son of the president of the United States and ends up on national television because of her views on provocative political and social issues. Teen Idol is the story of a small-town girl from the Midwest and her encounter with the teenage movie star who inspires her metamorphosis from anonymous high school advice columnist to social activist. Noting that the novel contains "lots of heart and humor," Rohrlick noted in Kliatt that Ready or Not showcases Cabot's talent for "creating convincing, down- to-earth teen characters" and draws in young readers by "incorporating lots of pop culture references and amusing lists."
Fans of Cabot's teen fiction, upon graduating from teenagers into twenty-something adults, continue to fuel their addiction to her novels with books featuring more mature protagonists. Among these are Boy Meets Girl, Queen of Babble, and the novels in Cabot's "Heather Wells Mystery" series. In Boy Meets Girl and its sequels, Cabot expands her journal-entry device by using e-mail, answering- machine messages, and other communications to frame the story of Kate Mackenzie, a young career woman whose job in the human relations department of a New York newspaper leads her into one dilemma after another. Ultimately, Kate winds up in a romantic relationship with the company lawyer. Every Boy's Got One, which is written in a similar fashion, uses snippets from journals, e-mail, and text messages to tell a "clever story," as Erin Dennington described it in School Library Journal. In this humorous novel, Holly and Mark decide to elope and bring their friends along on a jaunt across the Italian country-side to a villa in Castelfidardo. As chaos ensues—the nuptials are threatened by a missing document—two members of the wedding party overcome their initial dislike and find love while coming to their friends' rescue.
A Publishers Weekly contributor called Boy Meets Girl "a collection of lighthearted barbs [and] gleeful cliches," while Dennington recommended Every Boy's Got One for its enlightening background material about Italy as well as for the humorous writing, a quality Cabot's fans have come to expect. In another adult novel, Queen of Babble, college graduate Lizzie Nichols stranded in London and sabotaging her only way home with her constant verbal faux pas. Assessing this work, Carolyn Kubisz wrote in Booklist that Cabot "writes adult fiction that is just as playful, irreverent, and entertaining" as her mega-popular young-adult novels.
In an interview with Teenreads.com, Cabot discussed her writing process. "I truly do base ALL my characters on people I know," she admitted, "although I try to dis-guise them so the people they're based on won't recognize themselves and sue me. I do this by giving them characters traits that other people I know have. So no one character is truly based 100 percent on any one person, but a mix of a lot of people." Setting is one of the most important considerations when beginning a novel; as Cabot explained, "where we live does shape our lives, in many ways. I debate long and hard about where I'm going to set a novel, do research on it once I've decided, and try to set it in a place I've actually been (unless of course it's a made-up place). The more details you can add about a setting (so long as they enhance the story), the more realistic your story will seem to readers."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, September 15, 2000, Chris Sherman, review of The Princess Diaries, p. 233; May 1, 2001, Roger Leslie, review of When Lightning Strikes, p. 1744; April 15, 2004, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of Princess in Pink, p. 1436; October 1, 2004, Debbie Carton, review of Teen Idol, p. 7; November 15, 2004, Kaite Mediatore, review of Every Boy's Got One, p. 560; August, 2005, Cindy Welch, review of Princess in Training, p. 2014; September 15, 2005, Abby Nolan, review of Ready or Not: An All-American Girl Novel, p. 57; February 1, 2006, Cindy Welch, review of Ava-lon High, p. 43; February 15, 2006, Cindy Welch, review of Party Princess, p. 92; May 15, 2006, Carolyn Phelan, review of Queen of Babble, p. 22; September 15, 2006, Carolyn Phelan, review of How to Be Popular, p. 69; November 15, 2006, Gillian Engberg, reviews of Size 12 Is Not Fat, p. 29, and Size 14 Is Not Fat Either, p. 35.
Horn Book, January-February, 2006, Jeannine M. Chapman, review of Avalon High, p. 74.
Kliatt, May, 2004, Paula Rohrlick, review of Princess in Waiting, p. 16; July, 2004, Paula Rohrlick, review of Teen Idol, p. 7; May, 2005, Paula Rohrlick, review of The Princess Diaries, Volume VI: Princess in Training, p. 8; July, 2005, Paula Rohrlick, review of Ready or Not: An All-American Girl Novel, p. 8; September, 2005, Paula Rohrlick, review of Teen Idol, p. 17; January, 2006, Paula Rohrlick, review of Avalon High, p. 5; March, 2006, Joanna Solomon, review of Party Princess, p. 8, and Stephanie Squicciarini, review of Twilight, p. 26; July, 2006, Joanna Solomon, review of How to Be Popular, p. 218; September, 2006, Carol Reich, review of Party Princess, p. 46.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2005, review of Ready or Not, p. 732; October 15, 2005, review of Size 12 Is Not Fat, p. 1108; December 1, 2005, review of Avalon High, p. 1272; April 15, 2006, review of Queen of Babble, p. 366; August 1, 2006, review of How to Be Popular, p. 782.
Publishers Weekly, November 30, 1998, review of Portrait of My Heart, p. 69; October 18, 1999, review of An Improper Proposal, p. 78; October 9, 2000, review of The Princess Diaries, p. 88; November 6, 2000, review of Shadowland, p. 92; December 11, 2000, review of Lady of Skye, p. 68; July 9, 2001, review of The Princess Diaries, p. 21; October 29, 2001, review of Educating Caroline; November 17, 2003, review of Boy Meets Girl,, p. 42; August 30, 2004, review of Teen Idol, p. 56; November 8, 2004, review of Every Boy's Got One, p. 33; August 7, 2006, review of How to Be Popular, p. 61; October 9, 2006, review of Size 14 Is Not Fat Either, p. 40.
School Library Journal, October, 2000, Debbie Stewart, review of The Princess Diaries, p. 155; August, 2004, Linda Binder, review of Princess in Pink, and Ginny Collier, review of Teen Idol, both p. 116; February, 2005, Amy Patrick, review of Twilight, p. 132; April, 2005, Erin Dennington, review of Every Boy's Got One, p. 161; January, 2006, Amy Patrick, review of Avalon High, p. 129.
Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 2005, Luch Schall, review of Twilight, p. 488; August, 2005, Patti Sylvester Spencer, review of Princess in Training, p. 212; November, 2005, Larry Cooperman, review of Shadowland (audiobook), p. 76; February, 2006, Amy Alessio, review of Avalon High, p. 482; April, 2006, Molly Gregerson, review of Party Princess, p. 39.
Meg Cabot Home Page,http://www.megcabot.com. (December 23, 2006).
TeenReads.com,http://www.teenreads.com/ (August 16, 2006), interview with Cabot.
February 1, 1967 • Bloomington, Indiana
Author Meg Cabot is a one-woman marketing sensation. She is a publisher's dream because she is able to produce novels with amazing frequency. At one point, Cabot, who began publishing in 1998, was pumping out a novel almost every month; by early 2006 she had published forty-four works of fiction. She is also a diverse writer who has found equal success in a multitude of genres, including historical romance, young adult fiction, and contemporary adult fiction. In 2000, however, Cabot hit the jackpot when she penned The Princess Diaries, a young adult novel that quickly caught on with readers primarily because the wryly humorous author was able to accurately capture "teen-speak." In 2001, The Princess Diaries was adapted for the big screen by Disney and its popularity catapulted Cabot from writer to celebrity. In 2004, the movie The Princess Diaries 2 was released, which further followed the escapades of Mia, the Princess of Genovia. A few months prior, Cabot signed a seven-figure deal with her publisher, HarperCollins, to continue writing the Princess series and to build on her other young adult series. As Cabot told Teenreads.com, "I hope to write about [Mia] as long as people want to keep reading about her."
Meg Cabot was born on February 1, 1967, in Bloomington, Indiana. She was an avid reader from a very early age, at first gobbling up comic books and science fiction at the local library. In many interviews, Cabot claims that she found her way to the library during the summer months because she was looking for air-conditioning. While cooling off in the library, Cabot soon discovered classic literature, such as To Kill a Mockingbird, by southern writer Harper Lee (1926–), and Jane Eyre, written by English novelist Charlotte Brontë (1816–1855). Jane Eyre, the story of the romance between a man and his daughter's nanny, in particular, had a lasting effect on young Cabot. As she explained in a 2004 interview with Christina Nunez, "It introduced me to the world of romance, which I have never left."
"I am living proof that it is possible to profit from being a high school freak."
In addition to reading, Cabot was also obsessed with princesses. "I was a traditional Disney-princess worshipper," she told Trudy Wyss of Borders. "You know, I had the Snow White birthday cake when I was six, drew Cinderella endlessly on my notepads." Cabot read about princesses (her favorite fairy tale is Beauty and the Beast) and fantasized about being a real-life princess, often telling her mom and dad that her "real" parents, the king and queen, would arrive one day in Indiana to find her. In 1977, after seeing the movie Star Wars, the ten-year-old's mania for royalty grew to new heights. "I became obsessed with Princess Leia," Cabot explained to Wyss. "It's one thing to be princess of a kingdom; it is quite another to be princess of an entire planet!"
While in high school Cabot began to write her own stories because, as she claimed in an Onion Street online interview, there was absolutely nothing else to do. "That was back in the days before cable and VCRs were popular, so there really was nothing to do but write stories of our own." In addition, Cabot wrote for the high school newspaper and kept detailed journals. She also was active in after-school activities, including choir, theater, and the art club.
Although she enjoyed writing Cabot never planned on becoming a professional author. Instead, she dreamed of being an actress or a veterinarian. Unfortunately, she flunked algebra and did rather poorly on the math portion of her SATs. (As part of admissions requirements most universities require a student to take SAT examinations; they are divided into two sections—verbal and math reasoning—and help assess what a student has learned throughout their school years.) Following graduation from high school, Cabot decided to study art at the University of Indiana, where she could attend tuition-free since her father was a professor. In 1991, with a bachelor of fine arts degree in hand, the budding artist moved to New York City to pursue a career as an illustrator. Instead, she landed a job as a freshman dormitory assistant manager at New York University. It was not exactly her dream job, but there were periods when work was slow, which gave her plenty of free time to return to her early love: writing.
Meg and Mia
Success, however, did not come overnight. Seven years and thousands of rejection letters later (Cabot claims she has a mail bag full of rejections), her first novel was finally published. It was an historical romance called Where Roses Grow Wild (1998), and it was written under the pen name, or alias, of Patricia Cabot. Several more romances followed in 1999 and 2000. At the same time, Cabot was busy trying her hand at a novel, called The Princess Diaries, that was aimed at younger readers. Even though she was a published author, Cabot's young adult novel was rejected seventeen times before it was finally purchased by HarperCollins and released in 2000.
The inspiration for Princess came from an event that happened in Cabot's own life. After her father died her mother began dating her daughter's former art teacher. Cabot was so horrified that she began keeping a diary. She expanded the diary entries into a story about a ninth-grader named Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo, also known as Mia, whose mother is dating her algebra teacher. Cabot also visited her old high school diaries to add a true teen voice to her character, a gangly, shy freshman being raised by her single mom in a Greenwich Village loft in New York City.
In addition to facing the trials and tribulations of teenage life, Mia's world is turned upside-down when she discovers that her father is actually the prince of a tiny European country called Genovia and that she is next in line to inherit the throne. Suddenly Mia is a celebrity, and her worries about boys take backseat to princess lessons, bodyguards, and fending off the paparazzi.
Critics and fans
Critics gave mixed reviews to the The Princess Diaries, claiming that at times it was over the top and cartoonish. Publishers Weekly called it a "classic makeover tale souped up on imperial steroids." On the other hand, Cabot was praised for her ability to faithfully capture the angst and emotions of contemporary teens. According to her BookEnds profile, "Cabot writes about the minutiae, the finer points, the ins and outs and the trivia of teen existence—all in an eerily accurate voice." For Cabot, the appeal of the book lies in its diary-entry format. "There is a feeling that you're eavesdropping," she commented in a BookEnds interview. "The reason girls are drawn to the book is an element of naughtiness—ooh, I'm reading something that's not supposed to be read."
A few reviewers, however, were troubled by some of the questionable situations that appear in the book. For example, Mia's parents were never married, and her mother has a boyfriend who sleeps over. In her All About Romance interview, Cabot speaks to the objection by saying The Princess Diaries is timely. "It really does reflect modern-day popular culture, as well as modern-day teen problems and concerns. Many librarians (and parents, as well as teachers) have pointed to those scenes in particular as examples of timely issues, considering how many kids now have single parents or have friends with single parents."
Regardless of the critics, readers were drawn to the book in huge groups. By 2001, The Princess Diaries was selling in seventeen countries and HarperCollins had signed Cabot to write at least three more titles in the Princess series. Perhaps biggest of all, however, was that in August 2001 Disney released the feature film The Princess Diaries, starring newcomer Anne Hathaway (1982–; see sidebar) as the reluctant princess and veteran actor Julie Andrews (1935–) as Grandmere. Cabot did not write the screenplay, but she did work closely with one of the movie's producers, who explained to her why some changes were necessary to translate Mia's story from page to screen. As the author commented in her All About Romance interview, "The essence of the story, or the message, of staying true to yourself, no matter what, still comes through loud and clear."
Critics generally panned the movie, calling the characters bland and the story "sweet but schmaltzy" (Catholic News Service). Still, fans flocked to theaters, and in its opening weekend The Princess Diaries took in a whopping $22.9 million. It eventually made $108 million in box office revenue, an amazing feat given the fact that an established star did not appear in the lead role. Disney had enough faith in Cabot's story that in 2004, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement was released.
The Cabot dynasty
In just a few short years The Princess Diaries had become a mini-dynasty with Meg Cabot as its queen. By March of 2006, Cabot had penned seven titles in the series, as well as several spin-off books, including Princess Lessons (2003), filled with fashion and beauty tips, and The Princess Diaries Engagement Calendar (2005). Her efforts were rewarded in November 2003, when the author signed a seven-figure deal with her publisher, HarperCollins.
The Real-Life Mia: Anne Hathaway
The Princess Diaries movies may not have been quite as successful if eighteen-year-old newcomer Anne Hathaway had not been chosen to play Mia Thermopolis, the nerdy American who is transformed into European royalty. In fact, even critics who panned the film consistently praised the fresh-faced, fledgling actress. As David DiCerto of the Catholic News Service wrote, "The mediocre material is elevated somewhat by the buoyant and beautiful Hathaway, whose sunny smile could light up a small kingdom of two."
Anne Hathaway was born on November 12, 1982, in Brooklyn, New York, the middle child and only daughter of Gerald Hathaway, an attorney, and Kate McCauley, a singer and actress. Hathaway was introduced to theater at a very early age since she traveled with McCauley, who starred in the touring company of the musical Les Miserables. McCauley later left show business to raise her three children. Hathaway, however, had already caught the acting bug. While in grade school, she appeared in local theater productions of Gigi and Once Upon a Mattress. She also studied acting at New York City's prestigious The Barrow Group.
Hathaway attended Millburn High School in New Jersey, where she sang in the chorus. When not in school, she auditioned for parts on Broadway and in television. She appeared in several commercials, but got her first big break in 1999 when she landed the role of Meghan Green on the Fox TV series Get Real. Despite critical praise, the show was canceled after one season due to low ratings. After graduating from high school, Hathaway set her sights on attending Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, to study English and women's studies. Her entrance, however, was put on hold after she auditioned for The Princess Diaries.
A very nervous Hathaway actually fell off her chair during her audition with veteran director Garry Marshall (1934–). But since Mia is a bit of a klutz, the accident proved lucky, and Hathaway won the part that day. The Princess Diaries was released in 2001, and Hathaway reprised her role as the reluctant royal in the movie's 2004 sequel The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. In between Princess productions she also appeared in several other films, including The Other Side of Heaven(2001), Nicholas Nickleby (2002), Ella Enchanted (2004), and Brokeback Mountain (2005). In addition, Hathaway lit up Broadway in late 2001 playing the orphan Lili in the musical Carnival.
When not acting, Hathaway continues her studies at Vassar. And when interviewers ask her about her many princess roles (Ella Enchantedis a modern-day retelling of Cinderella), she just takes it in stride. She told PBS, "Hopefully my career is going to be longer and bigger than a tiara."
In addition to continuing the Princess series, HarperCollins signed Cabot to expand two other young adult series, Mediator and 1-800-WHERE-R-YOU. As Christina Nunez explained, both series are like Princess in that the main characters are young girls "who have extraordinary powers that carry extraordinary burdens." Another similarity is that the inspiration for each series came from an experience in Cabot's own life.
The Mediator series focuses on sixteen-year-old Suze Simon who thinks the biggest problem in her life is that her mother has remarried—that is until she discovers she has the unique ability to talk to the dead. The idea for Mediator was sparked after the death of Cabot's father. During a conversation with her brother, he revealed that he thought he could periodically see their father out of the corner of his eye. Cabot wondered, "What if you could see the ghosts of every dead person?"; thus, the character of Suze Simon was born. The first Mediator title, Shadowland, was released in 2000; the sixth title in the series, Twilight, was published in December 2004.
The 1-800-WHERE-R-YOU series was launched in 2001 with When Lightning Strikes. The inspiration for the books came when Cabot and a friend were literally almost struck by lightning. They were caught in a storm and the scaffolding under which they stood was hit by a lightning bolt. Although it was a frightening situation, the two friends got excited that perhaps the close call would give them psychic powers. Of course it did not, so instead Cabot gave psychic abilities to her WHERE-R-YOU heroine, sixteen-year-old Jess Mastriani, who uses her gift to find missing children.
Cabot's dynasty also consists of several separate young adult (YA) novels, including All-American Girl (2002) and Teen Idol (2004). In addition, she has never abandoned her love of writing novels for adults—both historical romance and contemporary. Her most recent contemporary adult novel is called Size 12 Is Not Fat, and is scheduled to be released in January 2006. Cabot is quick to point out, however, that her adult romances are a little too racy for the younger set. Instead, she steers teen readers to a line of YA historical romances published by HarperCollins. In 2002, Cabot released Nicola and the Viscount under the HarperCollins/Avon banner; the following year Victoria and the Rogue was published.
Worth the wait
In 1997, at the age of thirty, a dejected Meg Cabot was ready to throw in the towel as a writer. Less than a decade later she had become one of the most well-known YA authors in America. Hundreds of thousands of readers eagerly awaited each new installment in her many celebrated series, Hollywood was knocking on her door, and girls around the world clamored to share her princess secrets. Cabot was only too eager to oblige them. The dedicated writer puts in full workdays at the computer, snuggled comfortably in bed and wearing her pajamas. She frequently takes time out to answer the many e-mails she receives from fans and to monitor her online book club.
Cabot writes in her pajamas in two homes: one located in New York City, the other in Key West, Florida. She shares both homes with her husband, Ben, a poet and financial marketer, and their one-eyed cat, Henrietta.
For More Information
Cabot, Meg. All-American Girl. New York: HarperCollins, 2003.
Cabot, Meg. The Princess Diaries. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.
Cabot, Meg. The Princess Diaries: Party Princess. New York: HarperCollins, 2006.
Cabot, Meg. Shadowland. New York: HarperCollins, 2000.
Cabot, Meg. Teen Idol. New York: HarperCollins, 2004.
"It's My Life: Anne Hathaway." PBS Kids Go!http://pbskids.org/itsmylife/celebs/interviews/anne.html (accessed on August 10, 2005).
"Meg Cabot's Interview." BBC: Onion Street.http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/communities/onionstreet/liveguests/interviews/megcabot.shtml (accessed on August 10, 2005).
Nunez, Christina. "Meet the Writers: Meg Cabot." Barnes & Noble.com (September 2004). http://www.barnesandnoble.com/writers/writerdetails.asp?userid=LF8zzTzA1G&cid=980291£bio (accessed on August 10, 2005).
Wyss, Trudy. "Sleeping Beauty, Snow White...and Mia: Meg Cabot's Modern-Day Princess." Borders.http://www.bordersstores.com/features/feature.jsp?file=cabot (accessed on August 10, 2005).
B orn Meggin Patricia Cabot, February 1, 1967, in Bloomington, IN; daughter of A. Victor (a college professor) and Barbara Cabot; married Benjamin D. Egnatz (a financial writer), April 1, 1993. Education: Indiana University, B.A., 1991.
Addresses: Agent—Laura Langlie, 275 President St., Ste. 3, Brooklyn, NY 11231. Contact—Meg Cabot, P.O. Box 4904, Key West, FL 33041-4904. Home—Key West, FL.
A ssistant dormitory manager, New York University, c. 1991-2000; published first novel, Where Roses Grow Wild, as Patricia Cabot, 1998; signed with HarperCollins to publish The Princess Diaries, 1999; The Princess Diaries adapted into a feature film by Walt Disney Pictures, 2001; signed with the Scholastic Corporation to publish books for children and young adults, 2007.
M eg Cabot writes the immensely successful Princess Diaries young-adult novels, about an ordinary teen who is stunned to learn she is heir to the throne of a small European kingdom. The first in the series appeared in 2000, went on to spend the better part of a year on the New York Times bestseller list, and was translated for the big screen into an equally profitable film franchise. Cabot is a prolific writer who produced at least one Princess sequel every year for the next decade, while also writing other teen-friendly tales that have earned her a devoted, ardent following. Her book’s “heroines,” noted Sunday Times journalist Amanda Craig, “are ordinary girls who discover they are a princess, or a psychic, or an all-American girl who happens to save the president’s life, and who then have to deal with the commonplace problems of envy, ostracism, loneliness, and confusion.”
Born in Bloomington, Indiana, in 1967, Cabot was a writer at an early age, faithfully keeping a diary and progressing on to writing short stories in her teens. Her mother worked as an illustrator and her father was a professor of business and computer science in their college town. In an article Cabot wrote for CosmoGirl in 2005, she confessed that her genial and well-liked father was actually an alcoholic who hid bottles of bourbon throughout the house—which Cabot and her brothers would then discard when they found them. “Dad insisted he didn’t have a problem, and Mom, like so many spouses of alcoholics, didn’t know what to do about it—so she did nothing,” Cabot wrote. “We spent many Christmas Eves pushing the family car out of whatever ditch my dad had managed to drive it into after refusing to let Mom drive, insisting he was ‘fine.’” Finally, her father agreed to enter a substance abuse treatment program, and the family all underwent counseling.
Cabot earned a fine-arts degree from her hometown’s Indiana University and moved to New York City in late 1990. She intended to pursue a career as an illustrator, but had a difficult time finding work in the highly competitive job field. “It was really intimidating and awful,” she told Kristin Kloberdanz in an interview that appeared in Book. Eventually she found a secure job—with the added perk of a free Manhattan apartment, too—at New York University as an assistant manager for one of its undergraduate dormitories. She also began writing short stories and found success in 1998 when St. Martin’s Press published her first romance novel, Where Roses Grow Wild, under the pseudonym Patricia Cabot.
The kernel of a story that blossomed into the The Princess Diaries had its roots in the discomfort Cabot felt when her widowed mother began dating one of her former college professors. In original draft of the story, New York City teenager Mia Thermopolis is merely a tomboy unnerved by the fact that her mother is involved with Mia’s math teacher at Albert Einstein High School. When Cabot’s friend read it as a favor and confessed it was a little dull, Cabot decided to turn it into a lost-royalty fable—a staple of myths and fairy tales throughout the history of literature.
Cabot’s manuscript was rejected by several U.S. publishers before HarperCollins finally agreed in 1999 to publish it; however, before it went to press, Disney acquired the film rights and the filming of the story was set to begin a month before The Princess Diaries appeared in print. After the novel was published in October of 2000, Cabot’s book went on to spent 38 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. In one of its first reviews, Booklist’s Chris Sherman asserted that, in her young-adult debut, Cabot demonstrated “a knack for creating fully realized teen and adult characters that readers will miss when the story ends.” Thanks to the book’s success, however, the saga of Mia Thermopolis and her unexpected destiny would not be coming to an end in the foreseeable future.
The Princess Diaries introduces readers to Mia, her best friend Lilly, and her cat Fat Louie through Mia’s journal entries. A tomboy and a vegetarian who is deeply interested in environmental issues, Mia is also a typical 15year-old with a crush on two boys, one of whom is Lilly’s brother. Every summer, her mother ships her off to the palatial estate in France where her formidable “Grandmere” lives; this also gives Mia the chance to spend time with her father, whom she believes is a politician in Genovia, a small but wealthy European principality between France and Italy. Cabot’s fictional kingdom shares several similarities with the actual principality of Monaco, also wedged between France and Italy. For more than a quarter-century it also had an American-born princess in the form of film star Grace Kelly, who married Monaco’s reigning prince in 1956 in one of the most famous weddings of the twentieth century.
In the first Princess Diaries book, Mia learns she is heir to the throne when father reveals that, because of recent medical setbacks, he cannot produce any more children. He says that he is actually the Crown Prince of Genovia, and Grandmere is the current ruler. Mia, then, is next in the line of succession. The rest of the book chronicles her struggle to accept this news and maintain some semblance of a “normal” life back in the United States. “Wrapped up in the pink and glitter is a surprisingly tough, old-fashioned message to adolescent girls about keeping your sense of your own self-worth, being loyal to your friends and resolutely independent of the images of youth promulgated by pop stars,” declared Craig in the Sunday Times article.
Cabot’s debut young-adult novel became even more of a success when the movie version proved a box-office hit and launched the career of Anne Hathaway, who played Mia. Cabot was still working at New York University when the movie premiered, but left the job and, eventually, New York City thanks to the success of her teen novels. Mia’s saga continued through ten books, including the fourth installment, Princess in Waiting, 2004’s Perfect Princess, and the ninth and penultimate sequel, Princess Mia, published in 2007. This last-cited title finds Mia in her senior year of high school but troubled by relationship issues and a long-buried secret in Genovian political history.
Cabot has written several other books for young adults, including those in “The Mediator” series, under the pen name Jenny Carroll, and others aimed at a slightly older readership, such as Queen of Babble, a 2006 tale of a young woman looking for romance on a European sojourn. Cabot has fared less well in adapting her own work for the big screen. A short story that became the 2005 Michelle Trachtenberg movie Ice Princess is one example. She submitted several drafts before giving up, characterizing the process as “60 studio executives telling me what to do,” in an interview with Sue Corbett for Publishers Weekly. “It was clear a death was going to occur if I ever did that again.” Cabot noted in the same interview that “there are two types of writers: egg layers and egg polishers. I am such an egg layer. I turn in the first draft and I’m done. They come back to me with revisions, and I hate them. I know this sounds terrible, but the idea of working on a book for more than a month? That’s torture.” Cabot writes from Key West, Florida, where she lives with her husband, Ben Egnatz. They left New York City after the traumatic events of September 11, 2001, and lucked into a unique, mural-filled home that dates back to 1860 and is one of the oldest buildings in Florida. The resort town of Key West, meanwhile, suits Cabot’s requirements as an ideal place to live. One important factor is that the town—the southernmost zip code in the continental United States—is bike-friendly, because Cabot has never learned to drive.
Cabot and Egnatz eloped in 1993, telling their friends and families that they were vacationing in Europe. Instead they had made prior arrangements to wed in a small town in the Italian Riviera—the very same place that would fill in for Mia’s Gen-ovia a few years later. There was no bridal shower, department-store gift registry, nor bachelor and bachelorette parties, but in an article Cabot penned for Marie Claire, she asserted that “we were happy to trade all that for what we did get—a bridal wreath of garlic flowers made by the local children, which materialized outside our door on our wedding day and the moonlit serenade beneath our bedroom window that evening—courtesy of the soccer team” coached by the mayor who had married them earlier in the day.
Cabot’s official Web site scores hundreds of individual hits every day, and her e-mail inbox tallies as many as 200 letters on some days. With her devoted readership and pitch-perfect ear for teen angst, Cabot is sometimes compared to Judy Blume, the popular young-adult novelist whose books were best sellers in the 1970s. Cabot even contributed a chapter to the anthology Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume, a 2007 collection of essays by female writers chronicling their own teenage devotion to much-loved Blume titles like Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret? and Forever. Cabot’s essay “Cry, Linda, Cry: Judy Blume’s Blubber and the Cruelest Thing in the World,” recounted how Blume’s 1974 novel about cliquish female bullying, Blubber, helped her come to terms with the mean classmate who bullied her when they were ten-year-olds. “I was willing to let others have their way in an effort to get them to like me,” Cabot confessed, and said that reading Blume’s book helped her become a bit more assertive. Her bully then backed off, and from then on Cabot made it a habit to defend classmates who were targeted by others.
Cabot easily recalls these vivid details from her life because of the diaries and journals she has kept so faithfully over the years. In an article she penned for CosmoGirl, she wrote how miraculous it was that she could flip back to a night in February of 1983 and revisit what was troubling her: eating too many Oreos while babysitting and fretting over a boy. She also said that she has carted the several milk crates that hold her diaries and notebooks from home to home across several states, and even paid for storage facilities at times. “While they’re valuable to me now as a source of material for the books I write to make a living, they have always been even more valuable—priceless, actually—as the emotional connection between the girl I used to be,” she notes, “to the woman I’ve become.”
“The Princess Diaries” novels
The Princess Diaries, HarperTeen (New York City), 2000.
The Princess Diaries Volume II: Princess in the Spotlight, HarperTeen, 2001.
The Princess Diaries Volume III: Princess in Love, HarperTeen, 2002.
The Princess Diaries Volume IV: Princess in Waiting, HarperTeen, 2003.
The Princess Diaries Volume IV and a Half: Project Princess, HarperCollins, 2003.
Princess Lessons, HarperTeen, 2003.
Perfect Princess, HarperTeen, 2004.
The Princess Diaries Volume V: Princess in Pink, Harp-erTeen, 2004.
Mia Tells It like It Is (contains The Princess Diaries and The Princess Diaries Volume II: Princess in the Spotlight), HarperTeen, 2004.
The Highs and Lows of Being Mia (contains The Princess Diaries Volume III: Princess in Love and The Princess Diaries Volume IV: Princess in Waiting), HarperTeen, 2004.
The Princess Diaries Volume VI: Princess in Training, HarperTeen, 2005.
The Princess Diaries Volume VII and a Half: Sweet Sixteen Princess, HarperTeen, 2006.
The Princess Diaries Volume VII: Party Princess, Harp-erCollins, 2006.
Valentine Princess: A Princess Diaries Book, Harper-Teen, 2007.
The Princess Diaries Volume VIII: Princess on the Brink, HarperTeen, 2007.
The Princess Diaries Volume IX: Princess Mia, Harper-Teen, 2007.
“The Mediator” Series” under pseudonym Jenny Carroll
Shadowland, HarperTeen, 2000.
Ninth Key, HarperTeen, 2001.
Reunion, HarperTeen, 2001.
Darkest Hour, HarperTeen, 2001.
Haunted, HarperTeen, 2003.M
Twilight, HarperTeen, 2005.
All American Girl, HarperCollins (New York City), 2002.
(As Meggin Cabot) The Boy Next Door (first in the “Boy” series), HarperCollins, 2002.
Nicola and the Viscount, Avon (New York City), 2002.
(As Meggin Cabot) She Went All the Way, Avon, 2002.
Victoria and the Rogue, Avon, 2003.
(As Meggin Cabot) Boy Meets Girl (second in the “Boy” series), Avon, 2004.
Teen Idol, HarperCollins, 2004.
Holiday Princess (nonfiction), illustrated by Chesley McLaren, HarperTeen, 2005.
Every Boy’s Got One (third in the “Boy” series),Avon, 2005.
Ready or Not: An All-American Girl Novel, Harper-Collins, 2005.
Avalon High, HarperCollins, 2006.
How to Be Popular, HarperTempest (New York City), 2006.
(As Jenny Carroll) Missing You (fifth in the 1-800Where-R-You? series), HarperTeen, 2006.
Queen of Babble, William Morrow (New York City), 2006.
Size 12 Is Not Fat: A Heather Wells Mystery, Avon, 2006.
Size 14 Is Not Fat Either, Avon, 2006.
Pants on Fire, HarperTeen, 2007.
Also author of romance novels under pseudonym Patricia Cabot, beginning with Where Roses Grow Wild, published by St. Martin’s Press, 1998; also author of “1-800Where-R-You” series under pseudonym Jenny Carroll; contributor of “Cry, Linda, Cry: Judy Blume’s Blubber and the Cruelest Thing in the World” to Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume, edited by Jennifer O’Connell, Pocket Books, 2007.
“Cry, Linda, Cry: Judy Blume’s Blubber and the Cruelest Thing in the World,” in Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume, Pocket Books (New York City), 2007.
Book, March-April 2003, p. 34.
Booklist, September 15, 2000, p. 233.
CosmoGirl, December 2005, p. 152; February 2007, p. 114.
Marie Claire, June 2005, p. 240.
New York Times, August 3, 2001.
Publishers Weekly, July 17, 2006, p. 62.
Sunday Times (London, England), October 10, 2004, p. 9.