Guest blog with Anna Staniszewski, author of The Dirt Diary
I'm excited to host author Anna Staniszewski and her very fun MG book, THE DIRT DIARY.
My YABC review:http://www.yabookscentral.com/yafiction/16195-the-dirt-diary
My father was a janitor for a community college when I was in middle school and high school. I love how you give your protagonist's tale an unique twist on how she handles her mother cleaning job.
What was the inspiration behind your story?
A few years ago, I was listening to a story on NPR about teen mortification that mentioned a girl working for her mom’s cleaning business and having to clean her classmates’ houses. When I heard that, a bell started clanging in my head. As I sat down to play with the idea, Rachel’s voice jumped off the page. She told me about the other problems going on in her life (her parents getting divorced, the guy she liked dating her nemesis, etc.) There were a lot of plot threads that were woven in as I continued to work on the story, but the overall idea has stayed the same from that first spark of inspiration.
Best part of writing MG?
I remember my pre-teen years as full of intense excitement, anxiety, and embarrassment—often all three at the same time. Writing for that audience gives me a chance to play with those intense feelings, and it also lets me explore a time in characters’ lives when they’re finally given the chance to make their own decisions—and their own mistakes.
What's your writing schedule like:
My writing schedule depends on the week. Since I also teaching part-time at Simmons College, I have to balance those responsibilities with writing. Some days are set aside specifically for writing, but other days I may only be able to fit in an hour here and there. Even if I can’t write every day, I try to keep my brain connected to the story somehow, even if it’s only five minutes of daydreaming about a possible plot element.
What's your writing process like?
I’m a total perfectionist, so I hate first drafts because they’re so messy. I try to crank them out as quickly as possible so I can get to revising. Revising to me is like problem solving, and each problem I solve makes the story stronger and less terrible.
Which character is most like you or most unlike you?
The main character, Rachel Lee, definitely has some Anna in her. She’s painfully shy and is always doing and saying the wrong thing, something my younger self could totally relate to! Rachel also loves spewing made-up words and phrases (Holy friend bananas!) just like I’ve been known to, and she loves baked goods.
Which character gave you the toughest time to write in the book?
One of the popular girls in the book was a challenge. I didn’t want to make her a typical mean girl, so I worked a lot on giving her a backstory that helps to explain why she’s so closed off to other people. I didn’t want to make her likable, necessarily, but I wanted to make her somewhat understandable.
What's next for you?
Right now I’m putting the final touches on the Dirt Diary sequel, The Prank List, which will be published in July, and I’m just about to start work on the third book in the series, The Gossip File, due out in January 2015.
Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Staniszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. She was named the 2006-2007 Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library and a winner of the 2009 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award. When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time teaching, reading, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch. She is the author of My Very UnFairy Tale Life series, published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. Look for the first book in Anna’s next tween series, The Dirt Diary, in January 2014, and visit her at www.annastan.com.