Next up on our Author Interview Express, Jeff Kinney! Jeff's first book Diary of a Wimpy Kid is "a novel told in cartoons," and it's a rip-roaring delight. 7th grader and budding cartoonist, Greg keeps a diary of his year of middle school, sketching cartoons of events on every page. It's a dead on portrait of middle school, hysterical, a quick and extremely fun read. Give this to your reluctant reader and watch them devour it, but I can't imagine any reader, old or young, who won't relate to Greg's experiences and have a hearty laugh. This little gem zoomed onto all the major bestseller lists. Let's meet the man behind the laughter!
ME: I love the theory that children's writers have young internal readers, so we're writing to our internal audience and not to an external audience. Do you believe this? How old is your internal reader?
JK: That’s a very interesting notion, and one that I’d never heard before. When I was writing Diary of a Wimpy Kid, I didn’t have a specific audience in mind. I wanted to write something that I’d find funny if I came across it. When I was a kid, there were certain books that were read again and again (and seemed to never make it out of the bathroom :)) I wanted to write a book that would suffer similar abuse. So in a way, yes, I can see how I was trying to write for myself as a younger person.
Your book is laugh-out-loud hysterical. I think my favorite scene was the haunted house. Or the cheese. There are so many good ones. Do you have a favorite scene?
Thank you! My favorite scenes tend to be those scenes that people tell me they like. So the haunted house scene and the school play scene have become favorites of mine since the book came out. I also like the scene in which Greg and his friends try to design a robot.
What were you like in middle school?
All in all, I was a pretty average kid. I could be kind, but I could be petty as well. Appearance-wise, my class pictures doesn’t paint a pretty picture. I had the worst kind of metal braces, plus feathered hair. I wish somebody had told us in the 70s and 80s that our entire fashion sense was just all wrong.
Is there anything about being an author or publishing your first book that's different than you would've imagined?
Mostly, I’m surprised that someone took a chance and published my book at all. Diary of a Wimpy Kid is not an easy book to categorize, and I’m very surprised that librarians and booksellers embraced it. I’ve been overwhelmed by the whole publishing experience...mostly in a good way. I’m surprised by the work it takes, on everyone’s part, to get a book in front of the public’s eyes.
If you could do something outrageous or dangerous or crazy with no ill consequences for anyone, what would it be?
My threshold for danger is very low, so I’m afraid my answer is going to be lame. I saw that in Costa Rica, there are scuba diving excursions where you can swim amongst hammerhead sharks. Imagine being surrounded be a school of hammerheads… that would be the ultimate thrill for me.
Thanks, Jeff! You're a keeper.