I was very excited to read Dear Diary by Judith Natelli McLaughlin, when I read the blurb it sounded like it would be really fun and would take me back to my own teenage years, I was also really eager to get the chance to ask Judith some questions too to find out more about the person behind this fabulous young adult book.
Dear Diary is about Emily Paul Thompson who is given a diary by her mother on her first day of middle school. She embraces the diary right away and writes in it regularly, pouring her heart and soul into what is happening. It’s full of lots of amusing moments between her and her friends which I’m sure many teenagers can relate to… they certainly took me back and made me quite nostalgic! I miss those days of laughing at something so much that it is almost impossible to stop yet when you retell the reason why you’re laughing to someone, they just don’t get it! There were plenty of these moments in the book! As well as laugh at loud moments there were some more serious issues that many teens go through- friendship worries, changes in our bodies, being interested in boys and who, exactly, is the pupil who keeps stealing random items from the school?
The way the book is written will have any teen drawn in as it’s short and witty, no big overwhelming paragraphs and moves fast enough to capture their attention and want them to read on to find out what happens next.
I really enjoyed reading it, lots of humour, lots of teenage angst that is captured perfectly! I was eager to find out more about the making of the book so was delighted to be able to put some questions to Judith to do just that.
How has 2016 began for you?
“First off, let me say thanks for hosting me on you blog. I am thrilled to be here and ecstatic you loved my book, Dear Diary! My new year has begun with a rush of excitement, all surrounding the release of Dear Diary. Blog tours, twitter parties, and the anticipation of my drop day have all been exhilarating”.
We’re very excited to be part of the tour too, it’s going to be a very fun week and we think Dear Diary will be very popular when it’s released. When reading Dear Diary it made me think about my own teenage years and how things can seem so overwhelming at the time, so I wonder, what advice would you give to your own teenage self?
“Read To Kill a Mockingbird. I skipped the assignment when it was given in the 9th grade, using Sparks Notes instead. I went back to TKAM in my early 20s, reading it in one sitting! It remains one of my favorite books of all time! Hmmmmm, maybe it happened the way it was supposed to. Maybe I wouldn’t have appreciated it as much in the 9th grade. So, here’s another piece of advice – don’t be so hard on yourself. It tends to work out.”
Sound advice that I think we could all take heed of! Reading the book as a diary style really made me get my head inside the thoughts of Emily, what made you choose to write the book in a diary style?
“I wrote this book for my daughter Katie when she was in the fifth grade. She was not an avid reader at the time; intimidated by long chapters. She preferred short entries and she was having trouble finding books to suit her style. So, I decided to write her one using short, funny diary entries. She loved it (which was gratifying), and was even allowed to do a 6th grade book report on the unpublished book her mom wrote. Fun stuff.”
It’s lovely that you were inspired by your daughter and I’m sure so many other teens will be exactly the same so will love this format! How did you manage to get into the mindset of a teenager? It’s certainly very convincing from the book!
“Two ways, I suppose:
- I channel my teenage self; remembering my antics like it was yesterday.
- I am in the process of raising three daughters, so I am never too far away from watching the process of growing up.”
Throughout the book I was really amused by lots of the moments, it made me recall some funny memories with my own school friends. What funny moments stand out from your memories of middle school?
“I remember EVERYTHING! But if I have to pick one moment, it was the time my religious education teacher made our room dark and quiet. She told us to put our heads on our desks and she proceeded to put the needle down on the record player and out of the receiver came Monk music. The unfamiliar sound struck my best friend and me as laugh out loud funny; laugh out loud we did. The more we laughed the louder the music got and the madder our teacher became. But we couldn’t stop! When one of us got quiet, the other snickered and it started all over again. We made quite a scene. I crack up all over again just thinking about it. Pam? Hello? Pam? Do you remember?”
Nothing beats those moments when you can’t stop laughing with your best friend!
In the book, Emily often needs reminding to do her homework, piano practice and such. Are you the same do you need reminding to do things or are you very disciplined?
“I would have to say I am disciplined. When I put my mind to something, I get it done.”
In 5 words, how would you describe Dear Diary?
“Laugh out loud funny, #middlegrade.”
I definitely agree with that! Now finally, when we first meet Emily she tells a ‘sort of secret’ (to find this out guys, you need to read the Diary first to know what it is!) I wondered if you could share with us one of your own sort of secrets?
“I cried my way out of getting a D in high school history. The tears were real. So was the D. It turned into a C-. (Eat your heart out Ferris Bueller).”
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and to be kind enough to send me a preview of Dear Diary. I absolutely loved reading it and I know I’m certainly not going to be alone in this one!
You can follow Judith on Twitter here: @judithnmclaughlin