Jeff Kinney is the bestselling author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. He is also a cartoonist, producer and game designer. Diary of a Wimpy Kid was released in April 2007 and quickly became a New York Times bestseller, eventually reaching the #1 spot.
NAW- Tell us about your forthcoming book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Long Haul. What is it about?
The new book has Greg and his family going on an epic road trip. I’m excited about it because it takes the family out of their home environment.
NAW- How difficult is it being the writer and the cartoonist? You draw all sketches, right?
It’s tricky, mostly because I have a lot of time commitments, and the drawing takes a long time. It takes about 350 hours to illustrate a book, and nine months to put everything together.
NAW- Were you anything like Greg when you were young? How did you develop the character of Greg? He is my personal favourite and even though he may have his flaws, he does have his interesting traits.
I was like Greg in the worst ways. He’s an exaggerated version of my pre-adolescent self.
NAW- How difficult (or easy) is it writing for the kids? Will you be writing for the adults anytime soon?
It’s easy for me. I like writing for kids. I don’t think I have the right sensibilities to write for adults.
NAW-Did you carry out any research for the book series?
I spent about four years trying to remember every detail of my own childhood!
NAW- Tell us about yourself. What do you do when you are not writing?
I really like to attend sports events. I love the Celtics and Patriots in particular.
NAW- Who are your favourite writers?
I liked Judy Blume as a kid. Now, I like Bill Bryson.
NAW- How do you write, planning the complete plot beforehand or do you let the book take its course? Take us through your writing process.
I try to write jokes for about five months. Then I take my jokes and put them into a narrative. I write the manuscript and send it to my editor. Next, I draw.
NAW-What are you currently reading?
I’m listening to The Goldfinch. I don’t have time to read so I do all of my “reading” by listening to audiobooks.
NAW- Any advice for struggling writers?
Yes… if you have a good idea, nurture it over time. Writing is like anything else… it takes years to get really good at it. And find someone who will offer you tough criticism!