Jeff Kinney Talks to BAM About Not So Wimpy Topics
BAM: What authors influenced your storytelling?
JK: I think the biggest influence on me was Judy Blume. When I was a kid, I read her books, and I always felt like some of her characters could’ve been me. I also loved cartoonists like Carl Barks, who wrote comic books in the 1950s and 60s. He told stories through pictures, and I consider him to be one of the best storytellers of all time.
BAM: How do you keep yourself motivated?
JK: I’m lucky to have a big audience. When you know that millions of kids will be reading your work, it’s easy to stay motivated!
BAM: How did you come up with the idea for your series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid?
JK: I wanted to write a realistic book about a kid who was like I was as a kid, only a little worse. The idea came to me in 1998 and I knew the title right away.
BAM: What inspires your art style?
JK: I think Charles Schulz has been an influence on almost every cartoonist that followed him. But I was also influenced by Matt Groening, who created the Simpsons. He uses simple, clean lines but really gets a lot out of them.
BAM: I’ve been following Diary of a Wimpy Kid since it was a comic on Funbrain, so I have to ask: did you ever think this series would become as big as it is now?
JK: I never thought the book would even get published, to be honest. The success of the series has been a shock to me and has taken me on a wild ride which I hope will never end.
BAM: What tips would you give to a young writer wanting to get into the business? Any big advice?
JK: I’d advise a young writer to work on writing for years before trying to get published. It took me eight years to master the art and writing style of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I wouldn’t have been ready before that!
BAM: How long did it take you to complete your first novel, and how long did it take to get published?
JK: I started the book in 1998 and it was published in 2007, so more than nine years, end to end!
BAM: I am an aspiring author for fantasy, Si-Fi, and possibly children’s books. I want to publish but I cannot afford an agent. What steps would you recommend me to take and or advice for me starting out? Also what do you do to stay on a writing schedule?
JK: I am at school and work trying to write and it is tricky.
You shouldn’t need to pay for an agent! An agent usually takes you on for free, and then they get a share of the money you make. I’d recommend you try to find an agent who represents authors that you like. I was able to keep my “day job” while I got published, so it can be done!
BAM: Where did the idea for the series come from?
JK: I thought it would be fun to write about a kid who wasn’t heroic. There are lots of heroes in kids’ literature, but Greg isn’t one of them!
BAM: What inspired your character?
JK: Greg is a distorted/exaggerated version of myself!
BAM: What wisdom would you like to impart to your amazing readers?
JK: I’d like to recommend that you become an “expert” at something. It takes about ten years to really master something, so you should get started now!
BAM: Your books are so awesome! Wanted to know if the experiences in series are based off your own childhood experiences?
JK: Thanks! A lot of the experiences are based on real-life events. Most of what Greg does, I did in some sort of way!
BAM: When did you know you could, and wanted to, draw comics? What advice do you have for young readers starting out with comic ideas of their own?
JK: I liked drawing cartoons from an early age. The first character I created was called “Fish,” and he was a fish with a hat. That was in the second grade. My advice to a young cartoonist is to copy the style of a creator you admire, so you can figure out how they did it. Then you can create your OWN style.
The pressure’s really piling up on Greg Heffley. His mom thinks video games are turning his brain to mush, so she wants her son to put down the controller and explore his creative side.
As if that s not scary enough, Halloween s just around the corner and the frights are coming at Greg from every angle.
When Greg discovers a bag of gummy worms, it sparks an idea. Can he get his mom off his back by making a movie . . . and will he become rich and famous in the process? Or will doubling down on this plan just double Greg s troubles?