Thursday, November 12, 2009

Q&A with ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days’ Author Jeff Kinney

*Cross-posted from my parenting blog, the Picket Fence Post*

My three Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans were eager with anticipation for the fourth installment of Jeff Kinney’s series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days to arrive in our home. The day it came, it was in such high demand and there was such a struggle for each kid to be the first to read it that I decided to do the democratic thing and read it aloud to the three kids over the course of a weekend.

They were so jazzed after we finished reading the fourth book about the Wimpy Kid’s summer vacation that the four of us — me, my twin 11-year-olds and my 8-year-old — e-mailed questions to Kinney about his best selling series, featuring Wimpy Kid-in-chief, Greg Heffley. The Q&A is below:

Meredith O’Brien, Notes from the Asylum: Your portrayal of Greg’s summer, where everything seemed to go wrong — his family’s adoption of a dog wasn’t what Greg hoped it would be, his trip away with Rowley’s family went awry, his “landscaping business” failed and his mother tried to make him read books in which Greg had no interest — had my kids simultaneously laughing and feeling badly for Greg. What were your childhood summers like? Anything like Greg’s?

Jeff Kinney, author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days: I think Greg’s childhood summer was much worse than any of mine. Like Greg, my friend and I tried to start a landscaping business, but my grandmother wouldn’t give me a recommendation (due to poor service on my part), and so we never got past the starting gate. But I think most kids can relate to Greg who has grand plans for his summer that didn’t pan out.

O’Brien: Here’s a question from my 8-year-old son, “When you were Greg Heffley’s age, were you like him?”

Kinney: I was like Greg in some ways. I could be immature and self-centered, but really, I was a normal kid. I think Greg has very exaggerated faults. I wasn’t perfect, but I wasn’t as flawed as Greg.

O’Brien: Here’s a question from my 11-year-old son, “Where did you get the funny ideas for your books?”

Kinney: I spent a lot of time thinking and remembering funny things I’ve seen or heard. I try to make sure my ideas are realistic, because I think that’s what makes Greg’s story relatable. When I’m writing, I spend every night sitting and thinking with a blanket over my head, trying to come up with a good idea. Most of the time, I fall asleep.

O’Brien: A question from my 11-year-old daughter, “Which one is your favorite Diary of a Wimpy Kid book? Why?

Kinney: I think I’ll always have a soft spot for the first book, since I didn’t have any success in cartooning before it was published.

O’Brien: Another from my daughter, “Who is your favorite character in Dog Days?

Kinney: I think Rowley will always be my favorite character. He’s a good kid and he’s not tainted the same way Greg is.

O’Brien: Another from my 11-year-old son, “Can you give us a preview of the next book?”

Kinney: Sure . . . it will be about Greg and Rowley’s friendship, and whether or not it can be salvaged as they start to grow apart.

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