It sounds like a bit of a paradox: Somebody who hates scary stories actually writing a book of them. But that’s exactly what New York Times best-selling kids book author Jeff Kinney has done with his latest release, “Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Spooky Stories.” The character Rowley is best friends with Kinney’s character Greg Heffley, the protagonist of the “Wimpy Kid” series.
“It’s a collection of short stories. Scary stories–but not so much,” says Kinney, whose books are typically aimed at 8-12-year-olds. “They’re more funny than scary.”
Kinney, who has sold over 250,000,000 copies of his “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series worldwide, joined KSL NewsRadio’s “Fan Effect” podcast to talk about his new book ahead of his visit to Utah this weekend for COVID-friendly appearances at King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City on Sunday, and the Book Bungalow in St. George on Monday. Kinney says families will drive their cars through a type of outdoor haunted house at the event before he personally delivers a signed copy of the book–holding it out via shovel to stay socially-distanced.
“It feels like the way to go in these times. It’s a three or four-minute experience, and at the end of it I’m dressed as a gravedigger (and) just trying not to scrape anybody’s windshield!”
Kinney also talked about how he manages to remain relatively anonymous, despite selling a quarter of a billion books around the world. He says it helps to live in a small town in Massachusetts, but the more likely reason is probably his lack of need for people to know what he looks like.
“I never have put my picture on the back cover of a book,” Kinney explained, adding, “I still have scars from Shel Silverstein growing up,” because he was disappointed when Silverstein looked nothing like Kinney imagined.
Kinney has already seen four Hollywood films made that were based on his “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books. Even though no live-action movies are currently in the works, fans can soon look forward to an animated series coming to Disney Plus, which Kinney says has been much more directly involved in than he was on the feature films.
“Everything that shows up on screen, and every line by every actor I get to have a hand in and a say in, and it’s really wonderful as a creator.”
Check out the full interview on the “Fan Effect” podcast to hear other fun stories from Kinney including how his first big publishing break came at a comic con; the time he accidentally ruined the interior of a fan’s car with a water balloon; what influence “The Simpsons” had in how he draws his book characters; and much more.
I have an idea for a future in-depth report. How do I tell you about it?
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