The “Dirt” on THE DIRT DIARY by Anna Staniszewski

*A big thanks to Anna for stopping by to tell us about her writing process for soon-to-be-released The Dirt Diary!* Add it to Goodreads here.

And now, a few words from Anna . . .


I don’t know about you, but when I was in eighth grade, I pretty much existed in a state of constant embarrassment. No matter how hard I tried, everything I said, did, wore, and even ate was wrong wrong wrong.

Many, many years after I (thankfully) left the land of eighth grade behind, I was listening to a story on NPR about teen mortification. The program mentioned a girl working for her mom’s cleaning business and having to clean the houses of some of her popular classmates. When I heard that, a thought popped into my head:

The natural embarrassment of eighth grade + The total nightmare of scrubbing toilets = Story Magic

As I sat down to play with the idea, Rachel’s voice jumped off the page. Not only did she crack me up with her weird sayings (“Oh my goldfish!”) but she started telling me about the other problems going on in her life (her parents getting divorced, the guy she liked dating her nemesis, etc). It turned out cleaning houses was the least of her worries.

Rachel certainly had a lot of woes, but she also told me about the things she loved to do like bake pastries and act goofy with her best friend Marisol. I’m usually a plot-based writer when I start a project, but when it came to writing The Dirt Diary, Rachel’s character was really the thing that kept me going.

Now, you might wonder why I would make a character endure even worse torture than I did in eighth grade. Isn’t that just cruel? Maybe. But I think the fact that I could empathize with Rachel’s plight made her story that much more important for me to write. After all, as a recovering eighth-grader, I know that when your life is in a perpetual state of wrongness, it helps to know you’re not alone.

A little bit about Anna . . .

Anna Staniszewski

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

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Posted December 2013


  1. What a great concept. Middle schoolers will do just about anything to avoid embarrassment. This sounds like a fun story. Congratulations!

  2. Definitely excited about TDD! Anna has such a great, funny voice in all her books.

  3. This book sounds excellent. I can't wait to read TDD! I recently heard about this author and have her on my list to read. I better get started. :)

  4. This is right up my alley :) Love the book premise and the voice sounds terrific!


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