Frequently Asked Questions
How do you pronounce your last name?
In Poland you would say “Stah-nee-shev-ski” but the Americanized way is “Stan-ih-zoo-ski.” Mostly people just call me Anna.
When is your birthday and where were you born?
I was born in Warsaw, Poland on August 31. I'd tell you the year, but I don't want you to know how super old I am. :)
Where do you get your ideas?
Sometimes, an idea starts with something as small as an image or a sentence. When I first began writing My Very UnFairy Tale Life, I started with an image of a girl who discovers a talking frog in her bedroom. The idea for The Dirt Diary, on the other hand, came from a story I heard on the radio about a girl who had to clean the houses of some of her classmates. I started imagining what it would be like if those classmates were the popular kids who had already been making the girl’s life miserable, and what might happen if she discovered some of their secrets along the way. Thus, Rachel’s story was born!
What made you decide to become a writer?
I’ve loved writing for as long as I can remember. When I was young I wrote lots of poems and stories. I also wrote plays and made my (sometimes reluctant) friends perform them. Since I was shy, writing was a way I could still make my voice heard. As an adult, I had a hard time figuring out what my real passion was. For a while I thought theater was what I was meant to be doing. Finally I came back to writing and realized that I’d never stopped loving it.
What should I do if I want to be a writer?
Read a lot and write a lot. It may sound simple, but it’s true. Also, learn to love revising; remember that a story is never perfect the first time around. Most importantly, make sure you’re writing the kinds of stories you would want to read. Really think about the things in books that pull you in. If you write about what interests you, you’ll never get bored.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I read A LOT. I also teach writing at Simmons University in Boston. Teaching is a perfect contrast to writing because it allows me to interact with people (a nice change from the solitary profession of writing) and it also challenges and inspires me. I enjoy walking, traveling, going to the playground with my daughter, and spending time with family and friends.
What are some of your favorite books?
There are so many that I’ve enjoyed over the years, but here are a few that have really stuck with me:
Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca
The Giver by Lois Lowry
11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass
The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
What are some of your other favorite things?
My favorite color is dark purple (think eggplant). I love chocolate so much that I've stopped keeping it in the house! I enjoy exploring new places, but I also really like relaxing at home in my pajamas with a cup of tea and a good book.