Author of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” Jeff Kinney considers J K Rowling the “best story-teller of our times” for whose works he had to break a self-imposed promise while writing his first book.
“While writing the draft of my first book, I made a pact of not reading any book. But I allowed myself one exception, and that was J K Rowling’s Harry Potter. Undoubtedly, she is the best story-teller of our generation,” he said.
Speaking at the Penguin Annual Lecture 2016, Jeff narrated before the the audience the whole tale from being “rejected” as a cartoonist for newspaper to turning into one of the most successful children’s book writers.
“I dreamt of becoming a newspaper cartoonist, but was rejected everywhere. It is after three years of that when I thought of writing children’s books.
“I realised that I was not a great illustrator, but a good joke writer. So I started penning down the funny things that happened with me in my childhood for my book. It took me eight long years to come up with my first book,” said Jeff.
Jam-packed with children of different ages, the lecture also saw the author drawing different expressions of famous characters from the series like the main character Greg Heffley and his best friend Rowley Jefferson.
“Majority of my characters are pretty much simple and similar when you draw them. It’s just a line and a pen stroke here and there, that makes all the difference in their appearance and expression. Now when I am drawing you can see the similarities on your own,” he added.
But the author got it completely wrong, while attempting to draw the cartoons with his eyes closed.
“I was asked by someone that having drawn these cartoons thousands number of times, can you draw it with your eyes closed? Well, I think both of us have got our answers now,” said the author jokingly.
Visiting India for the first time, he also talked about the Delhi boy Pranav who lost his life to a rare disease.
“I remember having so many wonderful discussions with him. I have dedicated ‘The Diary of a Wimpy Kid — The Long Haul’ to him, like if you have seen, the very first page reads ‘To Pranav’,” he added.
Excited about the soon to come ‘The Diary of a Wimpy Kid —The Long Haul’ movie, he said, “It is his favourite among the all 11 in the series”, including the recently-released “Diary of Wimpy Kid: Double Down”.
The author who said he takes “one month to finish a manuscript” and “six months to finish an illustration”, when asked by an attendee how many more books will he add to the series, replied, “I hope it (character) finishes 20 years”.
“Characters like Charlie brown completed 50 years. Greg has only been her for nine. So I really hope I can get it to 20 years,” he added.