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LI kids talk with ‘Dork Diaries’ and ‘Max Crumbly’ creators

Nikki Russell, Erin Russell and Rachel Renée Russell

Nikki Russell, Erin Russell and Rachel Renée Russell with Kidsday reporters seated, from left, Nina Tantillo, Diana Pramataris, Emma Pollard and Michael Fiocco. Credit: Newsday / Pat Mullooly

We had the opportunity to meet and interview the authors and illustrators of the “Dork Diaries” and “Max Crumbly” series, authors Rachel Renée Russell and her daughters, Nikki Russell and Erin Russell, at the Warwick Hotel in Manhattan. Rachel and Erin write the “Dork Diaries” and “The Misadventures of Max Crumbly” series, and Nikki illustrates them. They are all so sweet and friendly. Nikki is so energetic and animated when she speaks. It is obvious that they are very close and enjoy working together. They were excited to be interviewed by us. None of us wanted the interview to end, but we had to catch a train to come home.

Did you know that more than 30 million copies of “Dork Diaries” have been sold, and that they have been translated into 36 languages? Wow, that’s impressive!

We think both the book series are great, and we asked Rachel, Nikki and Erin if they thought their latest “Max Crumbly” series should be a movie. Rachel said there is a real chance it could happen. We hope so and are looking forward to the “Dork Diaries” movie, which is in development right now.

We figured since they were authors, they probably had favorite books when they were younger. Rachel told us that her favorite middle-grade book was ““Harriet the Spy” by Louise Fitzhugh.

We read that both Nikki and Erin were the inspiration for the character Nikki Maxwell. Erin told us that she was a little skeptical at first and Nikki was really happy about it. But now that it is published and so well received, they are both super happy about it.

We also asked whether, since there are bullying themes in the story, they were ever in that situation growing up. Erin told us that just like MacKenzie in one of the “Dork Diaries” books, a real-life mean girl popped all the balloons her friends used to decorate her locker for her birthday.

Rachel told us that she was bullied when she ran track. There was one girl who always picked on her because she ran faster than Rachel.

They all told us that the best advice they have is: Always be nice and kind to everyone, even if someone is mean to you.

The “Dork Diaries” series was on The New York Times best-seller list. We asked Rachel how she felt about that. She told us that she was very happy and excited because then she knew that her fans actually liked her books. And it also gave her the inspiration to write more books and hope that they would be just as successful.

“Dork Diaries” was so successful we were surprised that they wanted to write another book series. We asked them what was their motivation for that. Rachel told us that she started writing the “Max Crumbly” series because boy readers wanted a boy as a main character.

We asked if being related made working together easier or harder. Rachel said it’s fun, and her daughters have advantages working in her home office. “Erin likes to go to the guest room, fluff up the pillows, sit on the bed and work on her laptop,” Rachel said. “Nikki gets to bring her two dogs to work. One is little and the other is the size of a horse. Sometimes the big one has big accidents in my office, but she doesn’t get mad. They never have to worry about getting a pink slip,” (which means getting fired).

We also wanted to know if they ever argued about the topics for books. And they all chimed in to respond: Rachel and Nikki usually don’t argue, but Rachel and Erin sometimes do. Nikki, the illustrator, sometimes doesn’t like the ideas, but then she works around them and it all works out at the end.

We asked what they considered being dorky, and Erin told us it’s being in your own little group and not going along with trends and popular groups. She said that she used to think that it was a bad thing to be called a dork, but now she take it as a compliment.

Before becoming an author Rachel was a lawyer. We asked her which she liked more. Rachel told us she enjoys writing more than being a lawyer because she can dress comfortably when she writes in her home office.

Meeting Rachel, Erin and Nikki made us love the book series even more. If you haven’t had a chance to pick up a “Dork Diaries” or “Max Crumbly” book, get one and enjoy them as much as we did.


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