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Kidsday chats with Jeff Kinney, author of ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’

Author Jeff Kinney with Kidsday reporters, from left,

Author Jeff Kinney with Kidsday reporters, from left, Aaron Small, Tyler Smith, David Lennon and Pearl Guilbert. Credit: Newsday / Pat Mullooly

We met one of our favorite authors, Jeff Kinney, when he was in Manhattan recently. He told us that he was in the middle of writing his latest “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” book.

Why did you decide to do another “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” book?

I decided to do another one because I decided that Greg is a cartoon character and the best cartoon characters don’t go away. They live on for a long time. There are some cartoon characters like Charlie Brown who went on for fifty years. So . . . I think it’s a neat idea that cartoon characters live on and on.

If you could go back to any time period to live, which would you choose and what job would you want besides an author and a cartoonist?

I think I would go back as little as possible because I like our standard of living now. So if I had to go backward before I was born I would go back to the earliest possible fun period. I would probably live in America. I was thinking maybe I would be a newspaper reporter because I like that lifestyle, but I didn’t like all that smoking back then. So I’m not sure it would work out.

What’s the worst advice you got as a kid and did you take it?

It would probably have something to do with my older brother, Darren, needing to do something. He probably told me something like that if I planted money that a money tree would grow and he stole my change. It’s probably something along those lines, but details are hazy.

If you could have any super power what would it be and why?

I think everybody should choose flight. That’s a good super power to have. Invisibility is a little bit limiting but flight is a good one. You can do a lot with that.

Which of the characters do you relate to the most and why? Is this your favorite character?

I think I’m most like Greg in a bad way. He is some of my worst parts as a kid and as a grown up. My favorite character is Rowley because he’s a kid and he likes being a kid. So he’s almost always doing something funny.

Did your town have a country club like Rowley’s and did you go to it?

My town did have a country club. It was not the best country club in the world but I did go to it and I was very lucky to be in that situation where we could go to a pool.

We’re shaking in our shoes talking to you. Who had the same effect on you?

Thanks. I really enjoy the NBA so I think if I was talking to somebody from the NBA like Isaiah Thomas from the Celtics. Maybe I would be a little nervous.

What was your inspiration for the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series?

The inspiration for the series was really my life. Things that happened to me as a kid, things that happened to me as a grown up. Just ordinary things. Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary also wrote about ordinary life and that’s what I’m going to do.

Are you glad your books became movies?

I am glad they became movies. I’m really excited for them to become more movies.

Are there other members of your family just as creative as you?

Yeah, a lot of my family members are very creative. My sister actually makes these elaborate bows for cheerleading. My mother, she’s a doctor in education, my older brother and younger brother both play musical instruments. They’re more creative in many ways.

If you could own and operate an ice-cream parlor, a bug and lizard store or a bowling alley, which one would it be and why?

If I did ice cream I would be very fat. That wouldn’t be good. If I did the lizard thing I don’t think I would be very happy, but the bowling alley? I think I’m going to go with the bowling alley.

What was the happiest moment in your life?

Actually it may have been, I know I’m supposed to say the birth of my kids, but it may have been when my first book came out, because I wasn’t sure how it was going to look and feel and it was a product of a lot of work. It was eight years actually up to the point, nine years of work. So it was a great feeling to know that it looked good and it came out exactly like I wanted it to come out.

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