Day 19: Rachel Renee Russell

Rachel Renee Russell grew up in Saint Joseph, Michigan, a small city located on the shore of Lake Michigan. She has 2 younger sisters and 2 younger twin brothers. She wrote and illustrated her first book in 6th grade as a birthday present for my brothers. Her New York Times bestselling series, beginning with DORK DIARIES: TALES FROM A NOT-SO FABULOUS LIFE (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, 2009), and DORK DIARIES TWO: TALES FROM A NOT-SO FABULOUS PARTY GIRL (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, 2010) is a favourite of kids everywhere (I see children clutching it on NYC subways all of the time!), and was recently name-checked in a Times article about the growing popularity of e-readers among kids and teens.

Called “charming and funny”, by Graphic Novel Reporter, DORK DIARIES follows eighth grader Nikki Maxwell, who chronicles through text and sketches her move to a snooty new school; her epic battle with her mom for an iPhone; her enthusiasm for drawing & art; and a love/hate fascination with the new school’s queen bee, a girl named Mackenzie who becomes Nikki’s rival in a school-wide art competition.

The saga continues, when, settled in at her new school and flanked by awesome friends Chloe and Zoey, life is looking up for Nikki Maxwell, especially since her crush, Brandon, asked her to be his lab partner—a seriously awesome development. However, when Nikki overhears mean girl Mackenzie bragging that Brandon’s taking her to the Halloween dance, a bummed Nikki signs on to spend Halloween at a kids’ party with her little sister, Brianna, instead. After she finds out Mackenzie was lying and her dream of going to the party with Brandon could be a reality, Nikki has two events to juggle… plus plenty of other entertaining trials and tribulations along the way.

You can feel the fun, can’t you?

Russell is an attorney, but enjoys writing children’s books more than practicing law. She currently reside in northern Virginia.

What aspect of storytelling most appeals to you? What’s the biggest challenge?

I enjoy taking my readers on an exciting journey that will ultimately lead them to some sort of self-discovery. I feel the most challenging aspect of storytelling is plot development. I also work really hard to present unique and interesting characters that readers can relate to.

Which of your characters are favorites (I know, that’s a hard
one!), and why? Which characters were more difficult to write?

My favorite character is Nikki Maxwell. Although she is insecure and a bit of a dork, she has a wicked sense of humor. Because I have two daughters, I’m very familiar with how teen girls think, act and speak. However, I sometimes struggle with writing authentic teen male characters.

How do you discover and get to know your characters?

Actually, I’m still in the process of getting to know my characters. I’ve found that the more time I spend writing about them, the better I get to know them.

What would you like to write that you haven’t written yet?
Is there anything, a different genre or style, that you’d like to try?

My Dork Diaries books are realistic fiction, so I would like to try writing fantasy or paranormal. I’d love to one day write a Young Adult book for older teens and a Chapter book for younger children.

What brings you joy?

I’m happiest when I’m spending quality time with my family.

What interview question would you like to be asked, and what’s your answer?

Your daughter, Nikki, helps illustrate the Dork Diaries series. Has she ever considered writing and illustrating her own book?

As a matter of fact, yes. Nikki is currently working on her own illustrated novel.

Congratulations to her! And a mother-daughter collaboration is inspiring. What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future? What are you working on now?

I’m looking forward to releasing a book offering fun and creative tips about how to keep your own personal Dork Diaries. I’m currently finishing Book 3 which is Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Talented Pop Star. It will be released in June 2011.

Ooh, there are a lot of people looking forward to that — thank you, Rachel!

See reviews of DORK DIARIES from School Library Journal and Graphc Novel Reporter.

Visit Rachel Renee Russell online, and be prepared for fun!
Check out the Dork Diaries book trailer and hilarious blog. And hear from Rachel herself on her inspiration, writing process, and more.

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