I was awkward at 12. Hell, I was awkward through all my teen years and I still have my many moments at 22. I spent a lot of time writing in notebooks and ignoring other people (still do, but I've gotten better about apologizing for it). I was gawky and unsure of myself and generally said the wrong thing at the wrong time and ended up agonizing over my mistakes. I felt like a complete and total freak.
I'm telling y'all this because when I say that Meg Cabot's Princess Diaries books changed my life as well as my writing, I want to be clear that I am totally 100% serious about that statement.
I just finished Forever Princess, the last book in the series, and I fully admit that I cried through the last 100 pages out of pure sentimentality. For me, this is an end of an era, practically the end of my teenagerdom. This is the finish of books that I've faithfully read for 10 years, books I have read over and over again when I've had a bad day or a bad date or a bad ANYTHING at all. These are the books that, as a teenager, made me feel a little less freakish and awkward. Mia was like a friend--someone I could relate to on so many levels. I loved her adventures and I loved the way she saw the world, because it was so much like the way I saw it as a teen.
I bought the first book when it just came out--before the movies, before it hit the best-sellers list. I loved it so much that I instantly started tracking down anything else that Meg Cabot had written (her historical romances especially, because who doesn't love feisty girls in corsets?). I also wrote Meg herself and she ended up doing an interview for my teen e-zine, unladylike. She signed books for us and was such a wonderful, nice author and that's always really stuck with me.
What also has stuck with me is my sheer admiration for Meg Cabot as a writer and as a person. Not only is she wildly successful and has a career that all us YA writers dream about, but she has written several books and donated the proceeds to charity. She's a wonderful, imaginative writer whose ability to cross over genres I really envy.
Thank you, Meg, for letting us share Mia's world. The awkward 12 year old girl inside me thanks you from the bottom of my heart. You made my teenaged years much easier and your books inspired me to write YA. They made me think outside the children's book box--to think about characters who were going through real and fantastical things at the same time. Characters who were like real teenagers.
I'm grateful, because I'm not sure I'd be writing this if I hadn't, by chance, relinquished my hatred for the color pink and picked up that book 10 years ago.