Behind the Curtain of The Princess Diaries & Happily Ever Afters (ft. Meg Cabot & Elise Bryant)
Play • 25 min
Meg Cabot’s bestselling series, The Princess Diaries spans almost two decades. The main character of the series, Mia, shares her unfiltered, innermost thoughts as private diary entries. Young adult readers of the books are privy to and captivated by Mia’s internal and external landscape as she morphs from an awkward teen and into a royal princess. Author Elise Bryant was one such reader. In her book, Happily Ever Afters, the main character, Tessa, tackles similar teenage issues and emotions to Mia, but as a black girl. In this episode, Meg and Elise share their thoughts about why love stories belong in young adult libraries, why epistolary novels capture a reader's attention, and why a true representation of diversity can enhance the connection kids have with literature.

To learn more about Meg Cabot’s or Elise Bryant’s books, visit or

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[1:34] When switching her then adult novel to a young adult novel, Meg leaned on a friend’s daughter to help her choose a format for the book.

[3:07] As luck would have it, Meg had her childhood diaries for inspiration.

[5:32] Meg summarizes Mia, the main character of The Princess Diaries.

[10:39] Both Elise and Meg describe their discomfort when coming to terms with their love of coming-of-age romance novels.

[13:03] The Princess Diaries addresses real issues teenage girls face, such as love and sex.

[17:01] True representations of diversity in books offers kids the opportunity to profoundly identify with characters.

[21:12] Elise’s forthcoming book, One True Loves is a companion novel to Happily Ever Afters.

Continue Your Journey:

Meg Cabot
Elise Bryant
@ReadingPod on Twitter


“I had notes in my diary from, like, Algebra. This is why I got such bad grades. I wasn't clearly paying attention. So, I thought — oh, I could just transfer this right into the book and it will be really funny. So everything in those books is taken right from my actual notebooks from high school.” — Meg Cabot, Author, The Princess Diaries

“I loved rom-coms from a very early age but it was almost impossible at that point in the late ’90s or early 2000s to find those books with girls that looked like me. And so I started, just like Tessa does in Happily Ever Afters, I started writing those stories myself. I would write the kind of voicey, funny, happy, joyful love stories that I love to read but then I would write them with a girl that was black like I am.” — Elise Bryant, Author, Happily Ever Afters

“I think it's so important for kids to see themselves in all types of narratives, like being the hero, being the prince or princess, fighting bad guys, fighting monsters, solving mysteries and you know — falling in love. It helps kids to dream even bigger dreams when they see that reflected in stories. ” — Elise Bryant, Author, Happily Ever Afters
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