An Interview with Rachel Renée Russell, the author of Dork Diaries.

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Interviewer: Amanda MacGregor (School Library Journal)

Q: What was your inspiration for Dork Diaries and how did you get the idea for creating your main character Nikki as a “dork”?  

The inspiration for creating Dork Diaries was my two daughters who were teased and called Dorks in middle school. They loved art, theater, manga, and anime, and they got good grades in school. One day they just decided being a dork was a positive thing and embraced the fact that they were unique, smart, creative, kind, and independent thinkers. The inspiration for my main character, Nikki Maxwell, was my younger daughter, Nikki, who as a child loved writing and drawing and filled the pages of dozens of spiral notebooks. She still loves journaling to this day!

Q: What can readers expect from Nikki Maxwell and her friends in the 15th installment of the bestselling series and why did you decide to set the book in Paris?

Since each Dork Diaries book is one month in Nikki’s life, most of the series takes place during her school year.  So, I was excited to go in a new direction with the summer books.  She had a birthday in June and got to go on tour with her band in July.  And, since my daughter, Nikki, and I were planning to go to Paris during the spring of 2020, we decided it would be great if Nikki Maxwell went to Paris as well.  However, due to COVID, we had to cancel our trip.  But we were able to live vicariously through Nikki Maxwell and enjoyed writing about her wonderful trip to Paris.

Q: Your books are lighthearted and full of humor, despite Nikki dealing with some terrible bullies. What is it like writing books for this pivotal time in any adolescent’s life?

Even though I’ve been writing these books for quite a while, I’m still always a bit surprised when kids, teens, and even young adults become very emotional and thank me for writing a book that helped them get through very tough times in their lives.  Nikki Maxwell was inspiration for them to be strong, hang in there, and ultimately embrace who they are because that is exactly what she does in each book.  So, I feel very honored to be part of something that has such a positive influence and impact on young people.   

Q: What message do you hope young readers take away from the Dork Diaries series and what do you hope to inspire?

I hope readers are learning that being a bit different and unique is a good thing.  That things will get better if they just hang in there.   That there is a special friend out there for each of them, they just need to find that person.  And that having a sense of humor makes life a lot more fun.     

Q: Dork Dairies is Nikki’s journal! Did you ever journal growing up or do you journal now?

As a child, I loved writing in those small diaries that came with a set of miniature keys.  I kept it hidden in my bedroom and wrote it in each day until I’d inevitably lose the keys and be heartbroken when I couldn’t open it (LOL).   At this point, I’m so busy writing Nikki Maxwell’s diaries that I don’t have time much time to keep a journal of my own.  But I consider that a good thing!

Interview Online

The latest installment of the Dork Diaries series – I Love Paris! is available at the following retailers:

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