“I have to eat breakfast right away or else I freak out.”
If you’re a '90s kid, Meg Cabot probably helped you overcome your dislike for reading and better understand yourself as an awkward teen. The author of The Princess Diaries, which was adapted into two Disney movies starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews, used her childhood journals as inspiration for chick lit. She’s also written the 1-800-Where-R-You? series (brought to life as the Lifetime series 1-800-Missing), All-American Girl, and Avalon High (which served as inspiration for an original Disney Channel movie). Two new books hit the shelves this summer: Royal Wedding Disaster: From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess, a Princess Diaries spinoff for young readers, and Remembrance, the latest book in The Mediator series. While working from bed at her home in Key West, Meg chatted about dining with royals, her neverending search for decent gluten-free muffins, and the “sacrilegious” trend of scooped bagels.
Extra Crispy: Describe a regular morning in the life of Meg Cabot.
Meg Cabot: I wake up around 9—that’s the natural time I wake up. I’m not an early riser. I’m not a morning person. I like to make my bed first thing, because then you know you’ve accomplished one thing for the day. And then I have to eat breakfast right away or else I freak out.
What do you mean “freak out”?
I have one of those metabolisms that when I don’t eat something right away, I get really, really grouchy. It may even be a blood sugar thing and that’s why I don’t like to go out to breakfast with people. If I do, I eat breakfast first and then I go out. I’m just so hungry in the morning.
What does your first breakfast consist of then?
I usually have a cup of Earl Grey tea with milk and whatever else is around. Basically, whatever I can find very fast.
What’s that usually?
I have Celiac disease and I have to eat gluten-free, so unfortunately most of the times I eat oatmeal.
I’m so sorry.
Yea, it’s stupid. I hate oatmeal. I’ve just gotten so sick of it.
How do you keep it from getting boring?
Oatmeal is so boring. I like to have it with raisins and brown sugar. It’s better if someone will make it for me, then I don’t have to do it. I live with my husband and sometimes he’ll make it. I also love gluten-free toast, eggs, and bacon but I truly hate cooking so I wish someone else would do it for me.
Do you like writing in cafes?
No. After my bath in the morning, I dress and go to the bed in my guest room to write. I’m just not a desk person, so I do all my work from bed. In fact, I’m in my bed right now! [Laughs]
I love working from bed, too. Maybe we should change the writer’s cliche from cafes to beds.
My husband has a desk job. Everyone I know has a desk job. I don’t get it—we should all work from bed.
But you need a cat to lay with you in your bed. It’s perfect.
Do you have a cat?
Her name is Gem. My husband Ben calls her his Little Gem because he loves her more than anyone. She loves him; she doesn’t love me.
She’s not into snuggling with you?
No. not at all. So, I’m kind of in the market right now for a cat that loves me. I haven’t found one yet. It’s really sad.
What does Gem eat for breakfast?
My husband has spoiled her, so she has to have a tiny little amount of half-and-half in a bowl. Then, she gets a little bit of Fancy Feast, but it has to be the tuna and shrimp flavor. I think it’s a disgusting combination, but that’s what she gets; tuna, shrimp, and half-and-half, but not together—separate.
What did you eat for breakfast today?
Well, today, we actually found some not-super-gross gluten-free muffins. It’s really hard to find gluten-free muffins that aren’t gross. These were cranberry and orange muffins that we found in our little grocery store in Key West. I put it in the microwave and put butter on it and ate it with a banana. It was good.
You go, you.
I know. I even went to the gym, too, so my morning was incredible.
If a Genie granted you just one day without Celiac disease, what would you eat for breakfast?
Oh, I would have a bagel with cream cheese. And they do make gluten-free bagels, but I’m yet to find one that’s really good.
No surprise. You moved to New York City after graduation and lived there for a few years; do you ever miss a good New York bagel?
I’m lucky. I only got diagnosed about 8 years ago so I lived a whole life of being able to eat great bagels and pizza. Oh, and beer. I had my fun, it’s OK now.
What’s your favorite bagel?
I do love a really good sesame bagel. My boss and I, when I worked at NYU, were hungover—not that I’d ever be hungover because I’d never drink too much. We used to go to a bagel shop around the corner called H&H Bagels. We would get freshly baked, warm sesame seed bagels with cream cheese and bacon. It was like a cream cheese and bacon sandwich. Oh my gosh, it was the best hangover cure. I also got freshly squeezed orange juice and would feel better almost instantly.
Would you order your bagel scooped?
No. I don’t think it’s right. Maybe it’s OK if the bagel was really nice and crusty. I mean, I haven’t had bagels in so long, but I would never do that. It’s sacrilegious!
Many of your romance novels are based on diaries you wrote as a little girl. I know you wrote about crushes, but did you write about food?
We were a big Cheerios family. We had a lot of Cheerios in the morning and my diary was almost all about cereal. My mom was into healthy stuff, so we never got unhealthy cereals. All I wanted was Cocoa Pebbles.
If you could have breakfast with anyone in the world, who would it be?
Considering the books I write, it would be a royal person probably. I don’t want to say Queen Elizabeth, but I am very interested in what goes on in her head.
What do you think Queen Elizabeth eats for breakfast on an average morning?
Well, if I had breakfast with her I would know! And I want to eat at her palace. I’m sure she has one of those English breakfasts. Blood sausage, maybe?
If you had to cook for her what would you make?
Soft-boiled eggs with little toast strips for her to dip into her eggs. I think she would like that since she probably ate that as a kid.
Hm, you think she’d eat it with her hands?
For that she would, although she might dip it with her fork. I wonder if she would keep her gloves on...No, that would be improper etiquette.
And how would one dine like a royal?
You need a lot of utensils. So you have to have a lot of differently sized forks and spoons, and those tiny forks that no one ever knows what they’re for. Of course, you have to sit up straight and speak slowly. Obviously, pay attention to your dining partner and never put your phone on or near the table. If you’re eating by yourself, you can do whatever you want—even keep the TV on, like most people do while they’re eating.