“When I look at my high-school yearbooks, it’s like looking at a travel brochure for another planet,” Dyan Sheldon says. “I was painfully shy and introverted, so it wasn’t so much that I couldn’t or wouldn’t fit into the mainstream, it was more that I was so far away from it I didn’t really know it existed.”
Luckily for the teenage Dyan Sheldon, a new girl moved to town who was as flamboyantly outgoing as the author was shy—and as opposites often attract, the two became best friends. Theatrical, uninhibited, and outspoken, Dyan Sheldon’s high-school friend would become the model for the unforgettable Lola in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, a hilarious young adult novel that has taken on new life as a major motion picture (and a #1 New York Times bestseller). “They’re more soul sisters than carbon copies,” says the author of the character Lola and her real-life inspiration. “But the way they’re most alike is that my friend absolutely changed my life (and possibly saved it) in the way that Lola changes Ella’s.”
Intriguingly, Dyan Sheldon followed up Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen with My Perfect Life, a sequel that puts Ella (the character the author most identifies with) in the narrator’s role and gives her “a chance to speak for herself.” Like its predecessor, My Perfect Life was quickly hailed by critics. “Sheldon has spun a delightfully zany spoof of high school, politics, and affluent suburbia, capturing teen angst with wit and poignancy,” said Booklist in a starred review.
Dyan Sheldon’s third book with Candlewick Press, Planet Janet, introduced a new set of characters, starring a self-absorbed British teen who shares her travails in a hilarious diary format that has been likened to a Bridget Jones’s Diary for the teenage set. Other books from Dyan Sheldon, Sophie Pitt-Turnbull Discovers America and I Conquer Britain, focus on comical cases of culture clash when a haughty British teen winds up deep in the heart of working-class Brooklyn for the summer, and her bohemian Brooklyn counterpart crosses the pond to visit an uptight English family. The outrageously funny tales draw on the author’s personal experience of navigating a foreign culture: Dyan Sheldon is a former Brooklyn resident who now resides in London.
“There are enormous pressures on everyone—girls and boys—to behave a certain way as they move toward adulthood,” Dyan Sheldon says of the age group toward which she directs these three books. “Compared to the time of my childhood, when galloping consumerism was still in its infancy, the marketing pressure on kids today is truly frightening.” Still, the author hopes that readers who relate to her characters will find through her books some comic relief from adolescent stress. “It’s been a long time since I was a teenager, but despite this I like to think that my books are emotionally honest and true,” she says. “I believe the only way you can ‘help’ anyone is to share with them what you’ve experienced and learned.”
More recent titles from Dyan Sheldon include My Worst Best Friend, One or Two Things I Learned About Love, The Crazy Things Girls Do for Love, and The Truth About My Success.
Besides writing books for teens, Dyan Sheldon has authored a number of stories for younger readers and also writes for adults. When she’s not writing, the author likes to dabble in ceramics, practice yoga, and ride her motorcycle. Born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, Dyan Sheldon now lives in London.