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    Exclusive Q&A with Meg Cabot

    Posted by Teens Editor, 3 years ago

    Copyright, Ali Smith

    With over fifty books to her credit, Meg Cabot is definitely one of the godmother’s of modern YA. Her most recent novel, Abandon, is the first of a trilogy that was inspired by the Greek myth of Persephone. After a near-death experience, Pierce moves back to her mother’s home town, only to encounter the one man that she is trying to avoid, John.

    We have an exclusive Q&A in which Meg talks to us about writing mythology, YA and much more.

    TE: Abandon is the first of a series. What can you tell us about this new series? How many books are you planning?

    MC: Abandon is the first book in a trilogy that was partly inspired by the Greek Myth of Persephone. I came across that myth in high school when I read Edith Hamilton's Mythology. I loved the illustration of Hades coming up through a chasm in the earth and carrying Persephone off to the Underworld in his chariot. [See below] I was hooked right away because the myth of Persephone is one of the few Greek myths involving a female character who doesn’t get turned into a plant, tree, or animal after her run-in with a god. Not only does Persephone become queen of the Underworld, but she’s the goddess of springtime . . . dark and hopeful at the same time, which was totally me as a teen. The second book, Underworld, will be out in 2012.

    TE: What is it about the Persephone Myth that interests you?

    MC: As a teen, I was so lonely . . . I just never felt like I fit in. I didn’t get really good grades like my friends, nor was I athletic. I was just longing for a place to belong. Even though Persephone’s myth seems hopeless—she’s trapped in the Underworld—the fact that there was someone out there–maybe even living beneath your feet–who adored her just as she was and wanted to take her away from the crummy place where she lived (and away from her boring school and the bullied who tortured her every day)—totally appealed to me. Maybe I was projecting, but Persephone finds the place where she truly belongs by the end of the story (maybe by accident), and while it wasn’t the place her mother or anyone else might have chosen for her, it was hers and hers alone, and to me, that rocked.

    TE: As you were writing Abandon, what character surprised you the most?

    MC: My heroine, Pierce Oliviera, is definitely a character who kept me on my toes! She has been through a lot, even though she’s only seventeen. She’s already died (and been revived), but she can never forget what she saw during the short time she was dead. Pierce also really cares about other people. Her desire to protect and defend others often comes into conflict with the fact that she is frequently in grave danger.

    Pierce also feels like an outsider in high school, which was how I felt as a teen. It took me a while–and a lot of trial and error–to figure out what I was good at and who I wanted to be. The same is true for Pierce. She is strong and capable, but people often underestimate her. I think all teenagers can relate to that.

    TE: You’ve written novels for various age groups and in a variety of genres. Is there a particular genre that you prefer writing in? If so, why?

    MC: I like to say that I write books for you, your sister, your best friend, your mother, and even for smart men who like good stories! Most of my books would probably be categorized as YA, but I enjoy writing adult books too, like Insatiable (and the sequel, Overbite, which comes out July 1). I decided to write the Allie Finkle series when my readers' little sisters kept coming up to me at signings and asking when I was going to write a book with “no kissing in it.” I honestly love writing for all ages.

    TE: There are a number of novels for teens that are retelling of classics or myths. Why do you think that this is so popular for readers? How do you approach these stories?

    MC: I've been thinking about the myth of Persephone – and planning how I would write my own modern re-imagining – since I read it in high school. Same Avalon High, which is an updated version of the Camelot myth I wrote in 2005. When I posted on my blog in 2006 that I loved the myth of Persephone (www.megcabot.com/2006/01/113716705084119422/), and had flunked high school Algebra do to doodling about it so much, I was inundated with requests from readers asking for a novelization of it. These classic tales just have a way of staying with us.

    The myth of Persephone is about the kind of love where you can't stand to live apart from someone and you'd do anything for that person. That kind of love and longing is very compelling. That's what Abandon is about too. All of the main characters in Abandon have also been abandoned in some way, often because they’re unwilling — or unable — to conform to societal norms. But it’s okay not to be normal. What some people may consider “different” or even “crazy” may actually be the thing that ends up making you special. It’s why I flunked Algebra . . . but have the career I do today.

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