Recently I was fortunate enough to do a Zoom interview with Jeff Kinney, author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid series. Kinney will be in Tucson for a drive-through book event at Mostly Books on March 26.
Kinney said that he is looking forward to being in Arizona. “Some of my happiest memories as a father have been going through Sedona...and other parts of Arizona with my kids,” He says. He is looking forward to visiting again with his family.
Drawing has always been a passion. “I actually wanted to be a cartoonist, like a newspaper cartoonist,” Kinney says. He liked cartoons like Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbs when he was young. He began drawing in school during class because he has Attention Deficit Disorder. He said that his doodles and drawings helped him focus and do better in school.
He loved drawing, but as he got older he realized that his talent was more for cartoons than realistic art. When Kinney began Diary of a Wimpy Kid, he thought he was writing for grown-ups, but when he submitted his books, the publishing house told him that he had written a children’s series!
Kinney shared that he collects about 750 jokes to help him with ideas for his book. This allows him to throw out about one third or more. Kinney uses his life situations as inspiration, and he relates most to his character Greg, who is “not heroic” and just kind of an average kid in a middle class neighborhood.
When I talked with Kinney about his new book, he shared that it only took him two months to write because writing as Rowley is much easier than writing as Greg in the Wimpy Kid books. The Wimpy Kid books typically take about nine months each to write. I also asked why he decided that Rowley would not draw noses for his drawings in the Awesome books because I thought that was funny. He said he chose to give Rowley a younger feel than Greg. He also said that his brother never drew noses on his people and that annoyed Kinney, but it also gave him the idea.
I enjoyed talking with Kinney and found him to be an Awesome Adult to talk with about his life and books.