Q&A with Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney
The Wimpy Kid books are a mixture of comic-strip and novel and have sold more than 50 million copies worldwide and been turned into two feature films. They diarise the exploits of goofy student Greg Heffley, his family and friends.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Q. Whoisthatmaskedwoman: These are the only story books my son will read at the moment, and he and my daughter fight over them constantly. He'd like to ask what made you want to write such brilliant books? And what makes a book a classic? And my daughter wants to ask which character Jeff would like to be - she'd like to be Holly Hills "because she's really pretty". And how many books will there be?
A. Jeff: Wow, I'm glad your children like my books. I put a lot of time into writing jokes for the books. I spend about five months writing jokes, and then I get rid of about half of them before I start writing the book. I'm not sure what makes a book a classic. I think teachers and librarians embrace certain books, and they get passed down from generation to generation.
I'm most like Greg, but I wish I could be like Rowley. He's a pure kid and he's not in a rush to grow up. I'm hoping to write about 10 books.
Q. Norfolkdumpling: My nine-year-old son would like to ask if Greg will grow up in your books, like Harry Potter does?
Q. Finbar: My son wants to know how you created Fregley - did you know someone like him? His sayings are legendary in our house, and "wanna see my secret freckle?" is a favourite!
A. Jeff: Fregley is made up, but I think most people know a kid like Fregley.
Q. GeorgeEliot: My younger son (aged nearly 10) would like to know where in America the Heffleys live, while my older son (12) wants to know if there will be more 'wimpy kid' films coming out.
A. Jeff: I'm not sure where the Heffleys live! I tried to leave geographic references out of my books. And yes! A third Wimpy Kid film comes out next summer.
Q. Jammygirl: My nine-year-old daughter wants to know how did you come up with the idea for the 'cheese touch'?
A. Jeff: In the United States, kids often pass 'the Cooties' around to each other in elementary school. The Cooties is a made-up disease. I wanted to create a more serious version of the Cooties for my books.
Q. Chickflit: My sons (seven and nine) want to know if you have any irritating brothers like Greg? They're both agreed that they each have an irritating brother.
A. Jeff: Like Greg, I had a younger and older brother. We didn't get along when we were kids but we get along now.
Q. MissSwift: My daughter (aged nine and a huuuuge fan) wants to ask, if you had to take part in next year's London Olympics, which sporting event would you take part in and why?
A. Jeff: I think Greg would take place in swimming. But he'd hide out in the locker room and wrap himself in toilet paper to keep himself from getting too cold.
Being a writer
Q. Philmassive: My son would like to know if Wimpy Kid was the first 'proper' thing you wrote, and what sort of things were you good at in school?
A. Jeff: In college, I was a cartoonist, and I collected my works in book form and published it myself. But Diary of a Wimpy Kid is my first proper book. I was very good at English and non-math subjects. I could get by in math, but it was always a little difficult for me.
Q. Jackandbethsmum: My 10-year-old son would love to know what made you start writing books? And my seven-year-old daughter wants to know which books you liked when you were little?
A. Jeff: I always wanted to be a newspaper cartoonist, but I couldn't get anyone to publish my work. I realised my problem was that I couldn't draw at a professional level. So I decided to start writing as a kid, and that's how Greg Heffley came to life. I liked Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing as a kid, and just about anything by Judy Blume.
Q. Morethemerrier: My 11-year-old son would like to know, how long does it take to write a book and where do you write them? And do you write in silence or listen to music?
A. Jeff: It takes me about nine months of really hard work to write a book. I write them lying in bed, and then in front of a computer. I listen to audiobooks when I draw, but I can't have any distractions when I write.
Jeff's Kinney's latest book: Diary of a Wimpy Kid - The Third Wheel is out on 14 November. See the exclusive trailer above. Author Jeff Kinney could be coming to a venue near you to talk about his latest book. For more info see Jeff Kinney tour dates