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Meg Cabot: The Writing Princess Behind "The Princess Diaries"

She's a favorite writer among tween and teen girls. Now Meg Cabot is back with "The Princess Diaries Volume V: Princess In Pink." We talked to this successful author on 9News Daybreak.

Cabot hit the bigtime when Disney made a hit film from the first book in her series. Her character Mia Thermopolis has won the hearts of millions of aspiring princesses ever since. A sequel is ready for a summer debut which reunites all the original castmembers, including Julie Andrews. Fans of the series know Cabot's Mia started out as a bit of a geek, who puts on her Doc Martens one at a time. In fact, the most exciting thing she ever dreamed about was smacking lips with sexy senior Josh Richter, "six feet of unadulterated hotness," and passing Algebra I. That all changed when Mia learned she was actually a crown princess of a country called Genovia. To say the least, she's a reluctant Cinderella.To quote her character: "I am so NOT a princess.... You never saw anyone who looked less like a princess than I do. I mean, I have really bad hair... and... a really big mouth and no breasts and feet that look like skis." The fifth volume in the series shows things haven't improved all the much, despite Mia's elevation to royalty. One of the biggest issues in Mia's life is finding a date for the prom.Cabot told us she's gratified so many girls can relate to her character. "I hope to write about her for as long as people want to keep reading about her," says Cabot." And I think the reason people want to read about Mia is that she is a genuinely nice person, who always tries to do the right thing, except that sometimes she messes up --- which is very human and appealing. In spite of her best efforts, Mia really can't help being a princess ---someone who strives to right wrongs and make the world a better place. You have to admire that...I know I do. I wish I could be more like her!"Much of the inspiration for her Princess Diaries books comes from Cabot's own high school experiences. "I think for a lot of people high school was the worst, most painful time of their lives, and after they escape, endorphins rush in and cause them to forget the unmitigated horror of it all (kind of like childbirth). I, however, kept a journal in which I recorded all my thoughts and feelings from that time period, so it is all fresh in my head. As to whether teens are savvier than adults --- well, duh. Still, teens need to keep in mind that their parents: a) were once just like them, b) usually do have your best interests at heart and c) are necessary for things like gas money and college tuition. So try to treat them kindly."Mia's life is a modern fairytale. So it's only natural that Cabot has a favorite fairytale too. "My favorite fairy tale has always been Beauty The Beast. I would switch places with Belle in a New York minute!"Cabot was very pleased with how the first movie based on her first book turned out, despite some differences in the setting and story. And she has high hopes for the sequel. "I didn't work on the screenplay. Once I knew Garry Marshall was directing and Julie Andrews was starring in the movie, I felt confident that the story was in good hands. While there are some major differences, I understood why they were made, and think that they work great in the context of the film."Cabot does have her share of critics, including parents who worry about the content of some of the books, even though their kids don't often share that criticism. "I don't think kids will object to the fact that, for instance, in the book Mia's parents never married, but I suppose some parents might. If they are that worried about their kid finding out that (gasp!) unmarried people sometimes do have sex (in which case I hope they aren't letting their kids watch Friends, Gilmore Girls, etc) then they should pay more attention to the age recommendation on the back of the book. (12 and up) I personally think kids are much smarter than their parents give them credit for --- that just because they read about single parents doesn't mean they are going to go out and become one --- but that's just me."One question Cabot gets a lot is about kids who'd like to follow in her footsteps someday as popular writers."Writing is really hard, but really rewarding. You have to work at it, though," says Cabot. "It took me ten years after college to earn enough from writing fiction to quit my "day job" as an assistant dorm manager. My advice to any aspiring writer who wants to make a living writing fiction would be:--Write the kind of story you would like to read. People will give you all sorts of advice about writing, but if you are not writing something you like, no one else will like it either.--Do not write stories about your family that might be read out loud in your English class. Kids will go home and tell their parents, who will then tell your parents, and you will be grounded for revealing embarrassing family secrets, no matter how much you insist it was fiction. Not that this ever happened to me.--Do not tell anyone you want to be a writer (except an editor or an agent who might get you published). The fewer people who know, the fewer people who will try to talk you out of it (and they will all try to talk you out of it). This problem is easily solved by keeping your mouth shut.--Two must haves for aspiring writers: Stephen King's new book, On Writing (even if you don't like his stories, his book on writing is great) and Jeff Herman's Guide To Agents, Editors, and HarperCollinss (when you are ready to try to get published).--Save your rejections so that later when you are famous you can show them to people and laugh.--Don't put your desk by a window. If you desk is by a window, put down the shade while you write so you do not get distracted by people outside having fun and living a normal life.--And, lastly, write. Write all the time. Letters, emails, stories, novels, poems, journals, whatever. The more you write, the better you will write, guaranteed."