Monday, December 2, 2013

Middle Grade Monday! The Dirt Diary by Anna Staniazeweski!

     One thing I ADORE about books is the way characters can make me feel like I'm just like them! Now you can only imagine how an author feels when their character is based off themselves. Today I have author Anna Staniszeweski here to tell me all about her upcoming novel, The Dirt Diary!
The Dirt Diary

Are Your Characters Just You In Disguise?
"People often ask how much of me is in my characters. When it comes to fourteen-year-old Rachel Lee, the protagonist in The Dirt Diary, I would say quite a bit. Let’s break it down:
She brings painfully shy to a new level. She literally freezes when she’s mortified, and whenever a guy even looks in her direction, her entire body slows down so everything she does and says comes out in slow motion. Embarrassing, right?
When I was Rachel’s age, I was in a constant state of embarrassment. Everything I did and said felt wrong, and I was terrified of talking to people outside of my close circle of friends. And interacting with boys? Haha, yeah right.
Okay, the similarities between the two of us are undeniable. When I was creating Rachel, I took all of my social fears and ineptitudes and turned them up a few notches. Then I threw in some funny sayings (“Holy fried bananas!”) that reflect how much I love playing with language.
However, there are other, less obvious ways that I relate to Rachel. Something I knew about Rachel from the beginning was that she was biracial—she has a white mother and a Korean-American father. Since I’m 100% Polish, this isn’t something I can directly relate to, but I grew up bicultural—born in Poland and raised by a Polish family in the US—so I could understand that in-between feeling, that sense of not quite belonging.
Of course, there is a lot about Rachel that is purely fictional. I’ve never worked for a cleaning service, or gone through a parental divorce, or entered a baking competition. But I think Rachel and I share enough of an emotional core that I could understand her even when she was going through things I had never personally experienced.
So are my character just me in disguise? I would say no. After all, writing about myself is boring. Even though I give my characters bits of me, I also see how far away from me I can push them. It’s a whole lot more fun that way."

Anna Staniszewski

Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Staniszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. She was named the 2006-2007 Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library and a winner of the 2009 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award. When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time teaching, reading, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch. She is the author of 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

Lastly, here is something to tie you over until you can get the actual book! Check out the book trailer here: 


  1. Great post! When I see myself in my characters--and I catch a glimpse of myself from time to time in a lot of very different ones--I'm surprised because at the same time they feel so unlike me in so many ways.