Interview: Rachel Renee Russell
Current Mood: awake
Current Song: TCM commercial music
I thought Rachel Renee Russell's debut novel, Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life, was adorable. (Click here to read my review of the book.) I'm very happy to have Rachel dropping by Bildungsroman today as one of the many stops on her blog tour.
Nikki expressed herself through her diary entries, which were filled with her rants, her raves, and her sketches. Have you, as a kid or as an adult, ever kept a diary-slash-sketchbook like Nikki's?
In both middle school and high school, several of my teachers required students to keep a written journal in a spiral notebook as a class assignment. Inevitably, after I added doodles, sketches, and comic strips, my journal entries ended up being more artwork than writing. However, my teachers always gave me "A's" on them, even though I usually did most of the work the night before the journal was due.
Was Nikki an established character in your artwork prior to her becoming a narrator, or did you create her with this book in mind?
Nikki came to me as a slightly insecure middle school girl with a quirky sense of humor, who expressed herself through her art as much as her writing. She was created especially for Dork Diaries. However, in the very early drafts of the book, Nikki had a fairy godmother who helped her out. In the end, Nikki's voice was so compelling that my literary agent (Daniel Lazar) and I ended up axing the fairy godmother. Of course, figuratively, not literally.
I loved the art, especially Nikki's creations for Chloe and Zoey. Do you write first, then add the art, or vice-versa?
I usually write a few pages and then go back and decide what the art is going to be. Due to the illustrated format of the book, if a scene does not inspire funny artwork, I may delete it or rewrite it over and over and over, until it does.
I liked the fact that Nikki was left-handed - something only revealed in the pictures! Which hand do you use for writing and drawing?
Which mediums or formats do you prefer to use for your art?
Actually, I don't even consider myself a "real" artist. I just sketch in pencil and then ink it with a felt tip pen. I'm probably more of an "arts and crafts" person than a "fine arts" person. I can make a Lazy Boy chair out of Elmers glue, kleenex and popsicle sticks.
You consulted your daughters while working on Dork Diaries, didn't you?
My daughters were my "consultants," NOT my critique group. My critique group consisted of my three tween nieces, aged 13, 10 and 9. And, boy were they brutal! They said my drawing of Nick Jonas looked like Johnny Depp. They made me draw him over 3 times, before they approved it.
Rumor has it you're working on the sequel to Dork Diaries. Does it have a title or release date yet? Will this be an ongoing series?
I'm working on Dork Diaries Book 2 right now and I'm still kicking around ideas for the title. The release date will be scheduled for Spring 2010. I'm really hoping Dork Diaries will become a series. But, the final decision will be up to my publisher...and, of course, Nikki Maxwell, since she'll have to agree to appear in any future books.
Throughout her blog tour, Rachel Russell gave away copies of Dork Diaries. One lucky winner was chosen at random from among those who left comments on this post. Congratulations, Lindsay! Rachel will be sending you a book bag (aka Nikki's Purse) stuffed with body spray, lip gloss, candy treats, an ink pen, and lots of other goodies mentioned in the novel as well as the book itself.