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Published: Thursday, 1/13/2005

Light lit from Meg Cabot

BY TAHREE LANE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Meg Cabot Meg Cabot
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She talks like she writes - fast, breezy, and with infectious humor.

Meg Cabot, author of the Princess Diaries and about 40 other books for girls, young adults, and adults, speaks and signs books at 7 tonight in Thackeray's Books, 3301 West Central Ave.

"I like writing funny books," she said in a telephone interview.

She's promoting her new adult novel, Every Boy's Got One (Avon Trade, $12.95), which she describes as "women's fiction light." It's a quick-read romantic comedy of a couple eloping to an Italian village (as Ms. Cabot, 37, herself did). They're accompanied by her maid of honor and his best man, who meet at the airport and instantly dislike each other.

Ms. Cabot tells the story in 21st-century epistolary style, using the maid of honor's travel diary along with e-mails, text messages, receipts, menus, and occasional cat cartoons.

Humorous stories about sarcastic career women looking for the right guy, popularized by Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary, are often called "chick lit," a term Ms. Cabot doesn't mind one whit. "Yeah, but hello!" she says, noting the plots of Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte.

Some of her favorite recent reads fall into chick-lit mode: English as a Second Language by Megan Crane, The Baby Trail by Sinead Moriarty, and Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella.

A Q&A on Ms. Cabot's Web site (www.megcabot.com) asks, "What are the essential qualities/values that we can get from your work which strike off modern values?" Her response: "It's my job to write the stuff. I don't have to analyze it."

And, "Do you ever get writer's block?" Answer: "Yes. It is usually cured by eating cookies and watching TV for several days in a row. Or until my Visa bill arrives."

Her breakthrough came after her agent couldn't find a publisher for Princess Diaries. "Nobody really liked it," said Ms. Cabot. Her agent shopped it to filmmakers. "There was a group of people at Disney who were looking to make a girl movie," she said.

Two Princess Diaries movies were produced, capturing the hearts of millions of girls and their parents, and Ms. Cabot was off to the races. The sixth book in that series will be published in March.

"When I was growing up, it was hard to find books that weren't about girls who were beautiful and popular, except for [the books of] Judy Blume," she said. "I read a lot of science fiction and comic books."

Her other youth series include The Mediator and the 1-800-Where-R-You books. Her young adult books include All-American Girl, Nicola and the Viscount, Victoria and the Rogue, and Teen Idol.

Ms. Cabot was born in Bloomington, Ind. Her father was a business professor at Indiana University (her alma mater), and her mother worked for Planned Parenthood. She's married to Benjamin Egnatz, a former financial writer who recently completed culinary school. "Now he's designing his dream kitchen," she said. They live in Key West and Manhattan.

Author Meg Cabot speaks at 7 tonight in Thackeray's Books, 3301 West Central Ave. Information: 419-537-9259.

Contact Tahree Lane at:

tlane@theblade.com

or 419-724-6075.



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