Meg Cabot moves from princesses to vampires

Meg Cabot
Meg Cabot, author of the bestselling Princess Diaries series has now moved into new territory with her vampire books "Insatiable" and "Overbite."
MPR photo/Euan Kerr

Best known for her Princess Diaries series of novels, Meg Cabot has actually written at least 50 books over the years, mainly for young adults.

Recently she resumed writing for older readers again with "Insatiable," her contribution to the burgeoning vampire cult. It became a bestseller, and now Cabot has published the sequel, "Overbite."

A writer should write what they know, and Meg Cabot says she knows vampires, or at least wannabes. She's an enthusiastic person who talks a mile a minute.

One of Cabot's early jobs was working in a New York University dorm around the time that Anne Rice published her novel "Interview with the Vampire." Some of the students got a little too enthusiastic about the book, Cabot said.

"And they started biting each other," she said. "And my job back then was to take students to the hospital when the were sick and these students happened to give each other hepatitis from biting each other. So we actually had a hepatitis outbreak. That's when I first realized how popular vampires were. I had to talk to their parents and explain why they were being kicked out and that's when I started going 'hmmmmm.'"

Cabot didn't act then, but she's a little concerned now that with the sparkling vampires of "Twilight" they are getting too positive an image.

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"The sparkle thing is just a disguise to make us think that they're, you know, handsome and handsome and non-creepy, but that is not true," she said.

Cabot's none-too-serious premise is the vampires are planning world domination.

Luckily there are people like Meena Harper, the heroine of "Insatiable" and "Overbite." She is a soap opera writer, and vampire hunter with a psychic power that tells her when and how people will die.

"The sparkle thing is just a disguise to make us think that they're, you know, handsome and handsome and non-creepy, but that is not true."

That's great for demon hunting but proves to be a problem when it comes to boyfriends. It's the kind of knowledge that can put a crimp on a relationship. Then she meets Lucien, who may be her perfect man.

"It's because she can't tell when he's going to die, and she goes, 'This is great because I can finally date this guy and not have to warn him, "Stay off that bus," or "Don't eat at Taco Bell," or whatever. But it turns out of course it's because he's, yeah, he's the Prince of Darkness."

Then the vampires begin to call. Soon Meena is involved with a specialized demon hunting unit from the Vatican, while juggling her on-again off-again relationship with the Prince of Darkness.

Cabot doesn't like message stories, she said. As a youngster, She got enough of those from after school specials. She loves writing romance, but she also likes to puzzle things out.

"And I thought, 'You know what, is there a way to tell a story where a heroine has kind of some questions about who she is, and where she is going in life, and also maybe learns that along the way, and because she's found out who she is and where she is going, she's maybe able to form a relationship with a significant other?' And that's kind of what my books are."

At book readings, Cabot gets questions about her vampire novels, as well as the Princess Diaries series. There's also her new "Abandoned" titles aimed at young adult readers about a young woman who comes back from the dead.

As a reluctant reader herself as a child, Cabot is always glad to hear from people who tell her they got into reading because of the Princess Diaries books. However, Cabot said she ultimately believes books like hers simply provide comfort and escape.

"To hear that my books gave comfort to someone, I hear all the time from people who say 'Oh I read your book while I was waiting in the hospital, while I was having chemo, or it go me through a difficult time. I think that is fantastic that I was able to do that for someone, because I found comfort in other people's books that makes me feel so great."

In addition to the several series she got going at the moment, Cabot said she might try something new soon: mysteries. But mysteries with a touch of romance of course.