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Capture the Flag
Kate Messner


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Check out the Sweet on Books Interview with

Anna Staniszewski

Author of The Dirt Diary and the My Very Unfairy Tale Life series

In your most recent book, The Dirt Diary, Rachel deals with a lot of issues that tweens can relate to, but is there a specific message that you hope readers will take away from this story?
For me, at least, the story is really about insecurity. I was unbelievably insecure when I was young and still struggle with those feelings as an adult. When I started writing about Rachel, I realized she had my insecurities times ten! Through the course of the book, those insecurities lead her to make a lot of bad decisions, but in the end, she starts to trust herself a little bit more. I think having confidence in yourself is so hard—especially when you’re a tween girl!—so it’s important to be reminded to trust yourself.

Rachel’s dessert choices seem to reflect her moods and her feelings. Why did you choose baking to play such an important role in the book?
Since Rachel is dealing with so many negatives in her life (her parents getting divorced, her crush dating her arch nemesis, etc.) I wanted to give her something positive to strive for. At first baking was just Rachel’s hobby, but when the school bake sale developed as a plot thread, it became a goal for her throughout the book.

What’s next for Rachel? Will this series be a trilogy?
You’ll be seeing lots more of Rachel in the next year. The sequel, The Prank List, is due out in July, and the third book in the series, tentatively titled The Gossip File, will be out in January 2015.

What made you want to be a writer?
I’ve loved stories for as long as I can remember. When I started reading books on my own, I couldn’t stop, and soon I was writing all the time, too. I think storytelling is just something I have to do, and luckily books give me the perfect way to do it.

How do you get your ideas? Do you do any research?
My ideas come from all sorts of places. The inspiration behind The Dirt Diary, for example, came from a story I heard on NPR about teen mortification that mentioned a girl who had to work for her mom’s cleaning business. When I started imagining how horrible it would be to scrub the popular kids’ toilets, I knew I had to write that story!

Where do you prefer to do your writing? What time of day?
I used to be an early morning writer, but these days I find that my brain works best in the afternoon. Even if I don’t have a lot of writing time on a given day because of other commitments, I try to curl up on the couch with my laptop and dedicate at least an hour of solid writing so I can stay connected to my story.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
If you love writing then always make it a priority. Life gets so busy that it can be easy to neglect your writing. Try to work it into your day, even just a few minutes here and there, so that you never get out of the writing habit.

What would you be if you weren't a writer?
When I was young, I was determined to be three things: a writer, a teacher, and a ballerina. Amazingly, two of those (writer and teacher) worked out! I love teaching writing and literature and would happily keep doing it. As for being a ballerina….well, maybe in my next lifetime.


Read or write?    It depends on the day!

Call or text?    Email. I’m not a big phone person.

Fly or drive?    Drive

Beach or ski?    Beach

Time travel back or time travel forward?    Ooh, that’s so hard! Can I do both?

E-book or traditional book?    Traditional book because I love to sniff them, but ebooks can be really handy.


Children's book:    Eek! This one is too hard. How about I give you one of my favorites from when I was young: A Little Princess.

Sports Team:    The Red Sox (Go Sox!)

Travel destination:    San Francisco is one of my favorite cities to visit.

Superhero:    Wonder Woman (I mean, she has an invisible plane!)

Magic power:    Flying would be the best.

We are Sweet on Books, so we have to ask – what is your favorite sweet treat?

I’m a chocolate fiend, so anything with dark chocolate is my favorite!

Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Staniszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time teaching, reading, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch. She is the author of the My Very UnFairy Tale Life series, published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. Look for the first book in Anna’s next tween series, The Dirt Diary, in January 2014, and visit her at