Anna StaniszewskiYou might remember when I interviewed author Miriam Glassman about her book Call Me Oklahoma! during the Kid Lit Giveaway Hop for Children’s Book Week last May. So Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Youth Literature Reviews asked us to join in the Best of Summer 2013 Kid Lit Giveaway Hop. For this hop, we’re giving away two books, and if you’ve read some of my previous posts, you might be able to guess which two books they are. My Very UnFairy Tale Life and My Epic Fairy Tale Fail were two of my favorite books that I read last spring and you can win a copy of both – each signed by the author – Anna Staniszewski! Oh, and I forgot to mention, Miss Anna (that’s what I call her) has joined me for an interview!

Greek Girl: Hi, Miss Anna!

Anna Staniszewski: Hi, Greek Girl!

GG: As you may know, I really enjoyed reading the first two books in the My Very UnFairy Tale Life series. How did you come up with the idea for the character of Jenny and her adventurer worlds?

AS: Jenny first arrived on the page several years ago when I really needed to work on something fun. I sat down and wrote a scene about a girl who comes home from school to find a talking frog sitting on her bed. When Jenny tossed that frog out a window (!!!) I knew I had to learn more about her.

My Very UnFairy Tale Life

GG: Are any of the characters or situations based on your real life?

AS: Well, of course, the unicorns are based on the real-life unicorns that live in my backyard. 🙂 Most of my characters and situations are completely made up, but I love taking character traits from real people (candy obsession and non-stop tea drinking, for example) and weaving them into my stories.

GG: That’s so weird, cause I have unicorns in my backyard, too. What was your favorite scene to write in the My Very UnFairy Tale Life Series?

AS: In My Epic Fairy Tale Fail, I love the scene in which Jenny has to climb a glass mountain. The scene was fun to write because I had NO IDEA how Jenny could get up that mountain–it seemed impossible! It was also exciting to take the idea of the glass mountain, something that appeared in the Polish folk tales I read when I was young, and work it into my story.

My Epic Fairy Tale Fail

GG: My Sort of Fairy Tale Ending comes out on November 5th. Is it really the last Jenny book you’re planning on writing (BECAUSE IT CAN’T BE!!!)? If so, was it sad to end the series?

AS: As far as I know, it really will be the last book in the series. But don’t despair! I think Jenny and I are both happy about where things ended up. And, honestly, I think she would kill me if I kept messing up her life! It was a little sad to say goodbye to my characters, but I know they’ll be okay (and probably much happier) without me.

My Sort of Fairy Tale Ending

GG: Well, at least I have one more book to read about Jenny. Do you have any other new books being released soon?

AS: I do! In January, the first book in my new series, The Dirt Diary, will be released.

GG: Oh, that sounds interesting, tell me more about The Dirt Diary.

AS: The first book, The Dirt Diary, is about 8th grader Rachel Lee who, when forced to work for her mom’s house-cleaning business, winds up cleaning the houses of some of the most popular kids in school…and learning their dirty secrets.

The Dirty Diary

GG: Do you write anything besides middle-grade chapter books?

AS: My muse gets distracted very easily, so I wind up working on all sorts of projects. In addition to my novels, I have three picture books in the works. The first one, Power Down, Little Robot (a robot bedtime book) will be coming out in Fall 2015, and the next, Dogosaurus Rex, will be published the following spring.

GG: I didn’t know you wrote picture books, too. Are you working on anything else new and exciting? Tell me about it.

AS: Right now I’m working on The Dirt Diary sequel, titled The Prank List, as well as tinkering with other mysterious projects… *smiles mysteriously*

GG: So, since you can’t tell me about your mysteriously mysterious projects, tell me about writing. Where and when do you write?

AS: My writing schedule depends a lot on what else I have going on, but I try to set aside regular writing time as much as I can. I like to curl up on my couch with my laptop and a cup of tea, and with my dog snoring near my feet.

GG: Oooh, you have a dog? What’s her/his name?

AS: I do, indeed! This is Emma. She’s a Black Lab mix, and she’s a wacky, adorable, and lovable creature. She was also the inspiration for the title character in my picture book Dogosaurus Rex.

Anna Staniszewski's Dog, Emma

GG: Awwwwww, I want to pet her! Besides Emma, do you write with other people?

AS: Whenever I’m feeling stuck, writing with other people helps immensely. Sometimes I’ll do online writing challenges with friends to see how much we can write in a short period of time, and once in a while I’ll head out to The Writers’ Loft to get some serious writing done.

GG: Did you like writing as a kid? What was the first book or story you remember writing?

The Cupcake SurpriseAS: I loved writing when I was young! I would climb up into a tree with a notebook and sit up there for hours writing (really bad) poetry. In fifth grade, my teacher had my class write and illustrate our own collections of short stories. One of the highlights was a story that I wrote (and “beautifully” illustrated) called “The Cupcake Surprise” in which a girl eats so many cupcakes that she turns into a cupcake and eventually gets eaten by a gorilla and then has to write the story from inside the gorilla’s stomach. I guess I’ve always had a strange sense of humor. 🙂

GG: Wow, your cupcake looks delicious. I’m getting hungry. What was your favorite book as a child?

AS: It’s impossible to pick just one, but here are a few books that I read over and over when I was young: The Secret Garden, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, and A Wrinkle in Time.

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GG: Here’s a question for you: if you could spend a day with Annabeth Chase (Percy Jackson & the Olympians), Hermione Granger (Harry Potter), Gregor (the Overlander), Mallory Grace (The Spiderwick Chronicles), or Ruth Rose Hathaway (A to Z Mysteries), who would you pick?

HermioneAS: I’d have to say Hermione because then I could learn so much about how the wizarding world works! She’d probably get really sick of me asking her questions.

GG: I’d probably choose Annabeth because maybe she’d take me to Camp Half-Blood. I’m going to work there when I grow up. Heh, heh. Do you have another job besides writing?

AS: When I’m not writing, I teach courses on writing and children’s literature in the MFA program at Simmons College in Boston. I love teaching because it gives me a chance to talk about writing and books with people who are as enthusiastic about the topics as I am.

GG: Uh, I’m enthusiastic about those topics, too! Do you have other hobbies?

AS: I’m really boring. Most of my time is spent reading and writing, but I also like to walk my dog, travel with my husband, and watch terrible TV shows.

GG: You don’t sound boring to me. I’m super excited for My Sort of Fairy Tale Ending and The Dirty Diary and everything else you’re writing. Thanks for stopping by!

AS: Thanks so much for having me!

 

For more info about Anna Staniszewski and her books, check out her website at http://www.annastan.com/.

 

I hope you had fun reading this interview.

I had fun writing it.

Greek Girl

 

Enter below win signed copies of Anna Staniszewski’s My Very UnFairy Tale Life and My Epic Fairy Tale Fail! Raffle runs from August 26th-September 6th.

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