Today, I am so excited to welcome back Anna Staniszewski! Anna visited this blog when she was wrapping up her My Very UnFairytale Life series and wrote a great post about character development in Give Your Main Character a Mirror. Anna’s newest book, the second in her Dirt Diary series, THE PRANK LIST, launches July 1. From Anna’s blog, here’s a bit about THE PRANK LIST:
Rachel never thought she’d fight for the right to clean toilets, but she has to save her mom’s business. Nothing can distract her from her mission – except maybe Whit, the cute new guy in cooking class. Then she discovers something about Whit that could change everything. After destroying her Dirt Diary, Rachel thought she was done with secrets, but to save her family’s business, Rachel’s going to have to get her hands dirty. Again.
I loved THE DIRT DIARY, so I was delighted to have an opportunity to read an ARC of THE PRANK LIST. These books are so much fun! In an interview on The Book Cellar, you mention that you usually come up with the premise for a story before plot or characters. What inspired the premise for THE PRANK LIST?
At the end of The Dirt Diary, there’s talk about Rachel taking a pastry class at a local bakery. That idea stuck in my head, and I wondered what would happen if Rachel got to the class and it wasn’t at all what she thought it would be. As for where the “prank war” idea came from in the story, I thought it would be interesting to bring in a rival cleaning service so we could see how far Rachel is willing to go to save her mom’s business.
The main character in your book, Rachel, loves to bake. Details like her first disaster with the caramel squares—a pan of goo on one side and crunchy crystals on the other—sound so authentic. Did Rachel get her love of baking from you?
Sadly, Rachel’s baking mishaps in this book are very much inspired by my own. I love eating baked goods, but I’m not a very good cook. My big problem is that I’m impatient, so anything that takes more than a half hour is a deal-breaker for me. Rachel is the kind of baker I wish I could be!
On Stephen Macquignon’s blog, you wrote about thinking visually in novels. One of your tips was to repeat an image for emphasis. Can you tell us about an important image from THE PRANK LIST?
Good question! I wanted Rachel to feel taunted by the rival cleaning business’s vans (red and black ones painted to look like ladybugs) that seem to follow her all around town. Every time she sees one, she feels like it’s mocking her, and she becomes more and more desperate to succeed.
I loved Rachel’s best friend Marisol when we met her in THE DIRT DIARY, but I loved her even more in this book. Without giving away spoilers, can you tell us a little about Marisol’s role in this story?
Marisol tends to be the voice of reason in Rachel’s life, but at the same time, she would do anything to help Rachel. So in this book, it was interesting to explore how far Marisol is willing to veer away from her moral compass in order to help her best friend.
You recently wrote a guest post for Janet Fox, Creating a Believable Tween Voice, in which you urged writers to focus on emotions. Does Rachel, the main character in your story, have a particular emotion that defines her or drives her actions?
Rachel always means well and she tries to do the right thing, but she often lets her good intentions get her into trouble when she starts feeling desperate and frantic. That’s when things get out of control and she winds up making decisions that aren’t necessarily the right ones.
Another fun element of voice in this story is Rachel’s exclamations, like “Oh my goldfish,” and “Crabgrass!” Did you have to try out a lot of sayings before finding the ones that seemed natural to Rachel?
Coming up with funny sayings has become a bit of a game in my house. I’m always testing new ones out on my husband, and he’s even started a list of ones that he thinks I might like.
Anna, thank you for stopping by today!
You can find out more about Anna on the other stops on her blog tour, including her guest posts, I Sold My Book: Now What?, What to Expect After the Sale, and an interview with Nancy Tandon on her writing process for THE PRANK LIST.
Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Staniszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. Currently, she lives outside Boston with her husband and their crazy dog. When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time reading, daydreaming, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch. She is the author of the My Very UnFairy Tale Life series and the Dirt Diary series. Her newest book, The Prank List, releases on July 1st from Sourcebooks. You can visit Anna at www.annastan.com.