Happy Saturday! –Boy am I glad to be home, TEXAS!!! *clears throat* Today the wonderful Anna Staniszewski, author of the hilarious My Very UnFairy Tale Life series (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2011-2013), is here to talk about the inspiration behind The Dirt Diary, her newest book (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, January 2014).
Title: The Dirt Diary
Eighth grade never smelled so bad.
Rachel Lee didn’t think anything could be worse than her parents splitting up. She was wrong. Working for her mom’s new house-cleaning business puts Rachel in the dirty bathrooms of the most popular kids in the eighth grade. Which does not help her already loser-ish reputation. But her new job has surprising perks: enough dirt on the in-crowd to fill up her (until recently) boring diary. She never intended to reveal her secrets, but when the hottest guy in school pays her to spy on his girlfriend Rachel decides to get her hands dirty.
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The “Dirt” on THE DIRT DIARY
by Anna Staniszewski
I don’t know about you, but when I was in eighth grade, I pretty much existed in a state of constant embarrassment. No matter how hard I tried, everything I said, did, wore, and even ate was wrong wrong wrong.
Many, many years after I (thankfully) left the land of eighth grade behind, I was listening to a story on NPR about teen mortification. The program mentioned a girl working for her mom’s cleaning business and having to clean the houses of some of her popular classmates. When I heard that, a thought popped into my head:
The natural embarrassment of eighth grade + The total nightmare of scrubbing toilets = Story Magic
As I sat down to play with the idea, Rachel’s voice jumped off the page. Not only did she crack me up with her weird sayings (“Oh my goldfish!”) but she started telling me about the other problems going on in her life (her parents getting divorced, the guy she liked dating her nemesis, etc). It turned out cleaning houses was the least of her worries.
Rachel certainly had a lot of woes, but she also told me about the things she loved to do like bake pastries and act goofy with her best friend Marisol. I’m usually a plot-based writer when I start a project, but when it came to writing The Dirt Diary, Rachel’s character was really the thing that kept me going.
Now, you might wonder why I would make a character endure even worse torture than I did in eighth grade. Isn’t that just cruel? Maybe. But I think the fact that I could empathize with Rachel’s plight made her story that much more important for me to write. After all, as a recovering eighth-grader, I know that when your life is in a perpetual state of wrongness, it helps to know you’re not alone.
Such a great post, I couldn’t agree more. I’ve put a mental block on most of my eighth grade memories. I wish I had this book when I was actually living them (review to come)!
About the Author
Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Staniszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time teaching, reading, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch. She is the author of the 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.
Connect with Anna
Thanks for stopping by, Anna!
Readers: Do you have any embarrassing eight grade stories to tell 😉