Dear Meg Cabot,
I’m coming to see you this weekend. I’m bringing you a gift.
Don’t be afraid. This is totally legit because you’ll be speaking at the Decatur Book Festival and you want people to come see you, so it’s not like I’m googling you to figure out where you live in Key West so I can walk by your house twenty times. I swear I have not done this even though I will be going to Key West in the near future and I think you would find me amusing over cocktails. (I will require two before I have enough nerve to act like myself in front of one of my idols.)
Also, the gift is not weird. I’m not giving you your portrait made out of used gum or a friendship bracelet made out of my hair. I’m appropriate and normal that way.
I’m writing you this open letter because chances are when I see you at your book signing, I’ll be too dumbstruck to say much of anything. I know you’re not Ryan Gosling and you’ve totally tweeted at me before, so I should be completely cool and collected. But I remember when I met Neil Gaiman a couple of years ago and I didn’t manage much more than a weak smile and something about loving his books, even though I rehearsed something really clever and funny in my car on the way there. Nope. As soon as I stood in front of him with my copy of The Graveyard Book, I became a wide-eyed fan girl. And your writing is more significant in my own reading/writing journey, so I figure I’ll thrust my gift at you and say something awkward and then run to the bathroom and frantically text my friend J.
J’s part of the reason I adore you. She’s my long distance writing partner and a true friend. We found each other on a writing board when she made an intelligent comment about a TV show we both love and I screwed up the courage to send her an email. Until I met J, I didn’t know anyone who liked The Princess Diaries or High School Musical or any of the other geeky YA stuff I adore. Most people my age don’t bother, think it’s too young and silly. J sees what I see and we’ve built this great friendship that’s now way beyond gushing over Michael Moscovitz as the perfect fictional boyfriend and dogging broody loner boyfriends who like to suck blood. For me, your books were like a secret password. Once I knew J loved your books too, I knew we were in the same club. Now we share our writing anxieties and excitements, and I don’t know if I ever would have taken the writing dream seriously without her egging me on. So thanks for that.
Thanks for writing light, funny romances that don’t take themselves too seriously. It seems like so many writers focus on Saying Something, and so many high profile books concern Very Grave matters. I knew I didn’t want to write angsty fiction, and reading your various series showed me that we can write good-natured stories that are there for the sake of being happy and entertaining that do not force us to live in Sweet Valley (although it is admittedly interesting there). There can be messages (The Gospel of Mia!), but they don’t have to come to us through impossible language and dark imagery. We can write things that are both fun to write and fun to read. We can include pop culture references, dammit; they are amusing and people like them. We can leave our terrible days at work and go home to books that make us smile instead of cry. We can be girlie girls who want equal rights and good jobs, but we can still want a nice boy to kiss the heroine at the end. What a relief.
In short, I’m thankful that you write what you write because it’s helped me figure out who I want to be and what I want to do with my life. Kind of a big deal.
Anyway, I’ve gone sentimental and sappy, and I hope you won’t think I’m all boring because of that. I’m totally interesting. I once stopped a kid from mugging me by grabbing his hoodie and yelling for help. I can also say the alphabet backward while drunk, if that helps.
I’m looking forward to hearing you speak this weekend. I’ll try to say something witty when I see you, but I think it’ll come out sounding like, “I love The Princess Diaries. The weather is gross today.”
But you’ll know what I mean.
Cheers to you, Meg!
PS Have you seen this?? I found it on Tumblr. I wish I knew who made it so I could credit them.
A while ago, I found this suggestion online:
Imagine your books are persons. Then arrange them according to the conversations they could have with their neighbors.
Naturally, it captures my imagination to think of my books waiting until I flick off the lights to engage in their after dark chats. When I built my new bookcases and rearranged my home office, I spent hours one Sunday afternoon arranging many of my books in this way. I’ll be sharing some of my favorites over the next couple of days.
The books about precocious kids all got together for a wild rumpus on one of the lower shelves. Allie Finkle is pretending to be a foreign ninja warrior princess with Betsy and Tacy, while Turtle Wexler and Flavia de Luce start a girl’s detective agency. The kids from The Goonies (Yeah, I have the movie novelization. Jealous?) are joining up with Stanley Yelnats and the other delinquents from Holes to find a way to rescue the Lemony Snicket kids (“Orphans never say die! Down here, it’s our time!”), while Matilda and Kat Incorrigible sip tea and discuss Regency era romances and take turns moving things with their eyes to freak out the other kids. I thought about pairing Nanny from The Nanny Diaries with a cute single memoir guy, but I needed someone to wrangle the moppets at bedtime.
I like to imagine this stack gathered around a flashlight at a sleepover when a storm is brewing outside. Catherine from Northanger and the nameless new Mrs de Winter from Rebecca could get themselves all in a dither with their tales of gothic fright. Then the ghostly narrator from The Lovely Bones could be like, “You guys are weak sauce. I have a better story about a creepy neighbor guy who built an underground cave.” And then Ms Roach, who would be surprised to find herself on my bookshelf in the dark, would roll her eyes and tell them that so-called “mediums” used to stuff gauze up their ladyparts to trick people into thinking they were spewing ectoplasm and, sorry Susie Salmon, but you probably don’t exist. But then Rory from Name of the Star would be like, “Uh, hey, I see dead people, so maybe they’re right.” And then thunder would boom through the room and they would all scream and jump.
On this shelf, Katniss from The Hunger Games and Katsa from Graceling compete in a super intense archery contest complete with flinty stares while Peeta and Po sit to the side drinking beer and exchanging war stories. They’d kind of be hoping for a Girl Fight when the lost boys from Lord of the Flies would come over the hill screeching that they’re going to kill the pig, but they’d stop dead when Katniss and Katsa turn the power of their stone cold gazes on them. Peeta would say, “Hey, guys, have a beer or something. The girls will shoot us a pig for dinner later. Where’d you get that face paint? Do you have any left? That really takes me back.” And Po would say, “I sense these guys could use a bath.” They’d all have a good laugh, and then they’d discuss survival skills and form an alliance to take down the rest of the bookcase.
Tomorrow: Mindy Kaling and Bridget Jones have lots of questions for Elizabeth Bennet-Darcy and a bunch of books take a road trip together.
So, someone was kind enough to comment else where on this blog that Meg Cabot twittered about my Allie Finkle review, which would explain the over 700 hits on my blog today. Usually, I just assume people are stopping by because they’re looking for a picture of Darth Vader since that’s usually my hottest search term. Those people are usually disappointed, I’m sure.