When Jeff Kinney started writing the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series in the mid-2000s, it was a way for him to, in his own words, “sneak” his cartoons into books once his career as a newspaper cartoonist didn’t pan out. A decade and a half later, Kinney is still pushing out new ideas (the 18th book in the series, No Brainer, was published in October) while also working with Disney to adapt his stories into animated features for Disney Plus. Ahead of the release of the latest animated feature, Diary of a Wimpy Kid Christmas: Cabin Fever (read Arlyn Murphy’s review here), Kinney talked with us about his career and the unique opportunity provided to him to be able to revisit his own works years later.
“It’s funny because I wrote the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books…when I first started writing them I was 28 years old,” began Kinney when asked to reflect on his career trajectory. “Now I’m 52. It’s a big jump forward in time. At first, I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was writing–I was just trying to write jokes–just write a bunch of jokes, string them together into a reasonable plot but I never really cared about writing a good story,” he explained.
“Now I care a lot about writing a good story. So I think I’ve changed over time,” he reflected before adding that his work with Disney Plus adapting his own stories has fundamentally changed the way he works. “Movies really taught me how to structure a story properly,” explained Kinney, “and so now even when I write the books I’m using a cinematic framework to tell the stories.” With Kinney having no plans to stop writing new Wimpy Kid books any time soon, it looks as though fans have many more good stories to look forward to.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Christmas: Cabin Fever is now streaming on Disney Plus.