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diary of a wimpy kid author jeff kinney and book five cover Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney and the cover of book five, The Ugly Truth. (Photos: (left) Julie Kinney, (right) courtesy Abrams)

Jeff Kinney's Latest Diary Entry

Diary of a Wimpy Kid author says more to come!

By Ryan Davenport | December 13 , 2010

Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, did not at first want to write books. He actually wanted to be a newspaper cartoonist. When he had trouble breaking into that industry, he developed a website for kids who love gaming.

Now, the somewhat accidental author has five best sellers (with at least two more to come!), a major motion picture (with another in the works!), and — perhaps best of all — a character balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series began in 1998 as daily online diary entries for the fictional character Greg Heffley. In 2006, Kinney found a publisher for his writing and the book series was born. The cartoonist wannabe found his calling in a big way—he was recently named one of Time magazine's most influential people!

But before all that, Kinney faced a pile of rejection letters.

"Perseverance is the one thing that kept me going," he told the Scholastic Kids Press Corps in a recent interview. "I just kept writing."

Kinney spent a lot of time developing the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books — eight years in fact!

"I never thought I would ever get published," he said. "It was really above my wildest dreams to have these books out. And now there's a new movie and a balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. It's really a lot of fun and much unexpected."

Kinney recently completed a book tour by bus, which is quite different from a regular book tour.

"We had a purple bus that was all decked out in Diary of a Wimpy Kid drawings," Kinney said. "It had 10 TVs, two lounges, eight bunks, and all kinds of crazy stuff."

Also on the tour were Zach Gordon and Rob Capron, the actors who played Greg and Rowley in the movie.

"We surprised our fans by bringing the kids on stage," Kinney said. "We went horseback riding and at one point we actually took a balloon across Tennessee, and visited Elvis' home in Graceland."

Kinney said he loves to write and is happy that people enjoy his books. The proof is in the bestseller lists. The series is number one on the prestigious New York Times bestseller list for children's series. The Ugly Truth is second on USA Today's top 150 bestsellers, just after former President George W. Bush's newly published memoir Decision Points!

Kinney obviously keeps busy. Not only does he write a bestselling series, he has a day job at the website Poptropica.com. He is also working on the second Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie.

"I had a lot of input [in the first movie]," Kinney said. "Usually authors don't have a lot to do with the making of their movie, but I was there on the set most of the time."

He wrote a lot of the jokes and got to make changes as the movie progressed.

"It was very different [from writing the book] because when you write a book it is just you and your keyboard and sketchpad," he said. "When you make a movie, there are hundreds of people involved on the project. It's rewarding in a different way."

Kinney, his wife, and two sons live in southern Massachusetts. So what does he hope his kids remember about growing up with a famous author as a dad?

"I hope they remember that I was a good dad and a normal dad and not just an author," Kinney said. "I hope they learn that reading can be fun and that it turns them into lifelong readers."

Be sure to check out Kid Reporter Ryan Davenport's review of the latest entry in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, The Ugly Truth !

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