Back in 2007, the first book in the ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ series hit the shelves and became an instant bestseller. The series was created by Jeff Kinney, who is now a New York Times bestselling author and a six-time Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award winner.
Here’s a great insight of Jeff’s life and writing process:
Did you always want to be a writer?
No, I actually grew up wanting to be a newspaper cartoonist but nobody would syndicate my work. I finally had success when I snuck my comics into books.
When did you start writing books? What made you decide to write books for kids?
The first Wimpy Kid book was published in 2007. I worked on Wimpy Kid for eight years before I felt ready to show it to anyone. All that time, I thought I was writing one giant manuscript (approximately 1,300 pages) for adults. It was meant to be a sort of reflection on what it was like to be in middle school. When I found an editor who liked the material, I was told that instead, what I had written was a children’s series – NOT a book for adults.
Where do you get the ideas for your characters? Are the books based on your childhood?
The Heffley family is very loosely based on my own family. Greg is made up of all my worst parts from adolescence. I do strive to remember funny things from my childhood, then I put those memories in the fiction blender and they sometimes wind up in the books.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It takes about nine months to create a new Wimpy Kid book; six months to come up with all the ideas/jokes (I need 350 per book), one month to write it, and two months to illustrate.
What is your favorite book? Who is your favorite author?
When I was growing up, I loved Judy Blume and also J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. Now, I’ll read anything by Bill Bryson or Malcolm Gladwell.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
First, I’d encourage an aspiring author or illustrator to try to think of an original idea, and then nurture it. It can take years to develop a winning idea, but it’s worth it! Second, try to write a short story in the style of a writer you admire because when you imitate style, it helps you to understand how they did what they did. Then, you can add this to your toolkit and use it as you develop your own style. Finally, find a person who can give you honest criticism.
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series can be purchased on Amazon UK: Click here.