Tuesday 6 January 2015


Title: The Gossip File 
Series: The Dirt Diary
Author: Anna Staniszewski
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Release Date: 6th January 2015

BLURB from Goodreads
Some things are best kept secret...

Rachel is spending the holiday break with her dad and soon-to-be step-monster, Ellie. Thank goodness her BFF Marisol gets to come with. But when Rachel meets a new group of kids and realizes she can leave her loser status back home, quirky Marisol gets left behind. Bored and abandoned, Marisol starts a Gossip File, collecting info on the locals. When the gossip includes some dirt on Ellie, Rachel has to decide if getting the truth is worth risking her new cool-girl persona...



What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
I’m Anna Staniszewski. I was born in Warsaw, Poland and moved to the US with my family just before I started first grade. Now I live just outside of Boston.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I’ve been writing since early elementary school, and by about 5th grade I decided I was going to be an author one day. At that time I also wanted to be a teacher, an astronaut, and a ballerina. These days I’m both an author and a teacher, so I think I’ve done pretty well on realizing my dreams. (Maybe the astronaut one will still happen one day!)

Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
In addition to writing, I also teach in the MFA Writing for Children program at Simmons College. I love teaching because it gets me out of my house and talking to people who aren’t imaginary. Plus, it gives me an opportunity to interact with others who love writing as much as I do.

Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others?
I used to think that some books would be hard and some would be easy, but the truth is, they all come with their own challenges. The Dirt Diary was fairly easy in the beginning because I had a strong idea going into it, but refining and perfecting that idea took a lot of time and revising. With the third book in the series, The Gossip File, it took me a while to get to what the heart of the story really needed to be. Once I figured that out, the last part of the process went more quickly than with any of my other books.

What can we expect from you in the future?  ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
In July, Sourcebooks will be publishing I’m With Cupid, the first in the Switched at First Kiss series, about a boy Cupid and a girl Grim Reaper who kiss at a party and accidentally swap powers. It’s similar to my other books in that it’s funny and quirky, but it’s also a little bit darker than my other novels, and it features my first ever boy protagonist. I loved writing this one, and I hope readers enjoy it!

What genre would you place your books into?
When people ask me what I write, I say I write “funny fantasy.” Even though the Dirt Diary books take place in the real world and don’t have any magical elements to them, I still think of them as “exaggerated reality.” It’s like real life that’s been turned up a few notches.

Where do you get your book plot ideas from? What/Who is your inspiration?
It’s amazing how ideas can come from anywhere. The Dirt Diary was inspired by a story I heard on the radio about a girl who had to clean houses with her mom, including some of the homes of her classmates. I started thinking what it would be like to have to scrub the popular kids’ toilets, and I knew I had to write that story! With the other books in the series, I thought of other ways I could push my character out of her comfort zone and create opportunities for humor and, of course, embarrassment.

Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them?ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
My husband is my first reader for pretty much anything I write. He and I have very similar senses of humor, so if he finds something funny then, chances are, it’s working the way I want it to. Once he gives me his comments on a manuscript, then I revise and send it to a few more trusty readers who I can always count on to give me honest and constructive feedback.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
I like to have a working title pretty early on in the process because it helps to remind me what the heart of the book is about. Often, though, titles change in the writing/publishing process, so I try not to get too attached to them.

Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
One of the things I love most about writing is discovering characters as I write about them. There are some traits that I come up with before I start writing, things I might have observed in other people or am curious to explore, but once I begin putting characters into different scenarios, it’s amazing to see little quirks and eccentricities emerge.

Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
I used to be a die-hard pantser, meaning I’d write by the seat of my pants. While this approach was fun, it also meant it took me a LONG time to finish a book because I had to keep fixing places where the story had gone off the rails. Now I write a synopsis before I start drafting, basically a general overview of the story that helps me figure out what the main emotional moments are going to be. Even though this synopsis changes as I write the book, having it on hand helps to keep me from getting too far off track.

Have you ever suffered from a "writer's block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?
There are certainly days when I don’t feel like writing, and I’ve found the best thing I can do is be tough on myself and force myself to write anyway. I’m often amazed at what comes out on days when I’m feeling least creative. If I’m really stuck, that usually means I haven’t thought through a character or a certain plot idea as much as I should have. That’s when I get out a notebook and start brainstorming. Usually, after a few minutes of that, the juices start flowing again.

What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
This sounds so obvious and clichéd, but I’ve found it’s true: If you want to be a writer then you have to write, no matter what. Life is always going to get in the way. You’ll never feel like you have enough time. But if you’re serious about writing then you need to find a way to make it happen, and don’t stop writing until that book is done.

Where can readers follow you?

Blog: www.annastan.com/blog
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/AnnaStaniszewskiAuthor
Goodreads author page: www.goodreads.com/author/show/4121470.Anna_Staniszewski
Twitter: https://twitter.com/annastanisz


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