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American Girl Doll News Interview: Jen Calonita!

Today on American Girl Doll News, we have a special interview with the author of The Real Z: Jen Calonita!


JC- Jen Calonita

AGDN- How did you find out about American Girl?

JC- When I got the call from them about the book, I was so excited! Even though I missed the American Girl doll craze as a kid (my world was Cabbage Patch Kid dolls), I am super familiar with the dolls because of my two nieces, Emma, 8, and Brooke, 5. My sister actually let me take both girls to American Girl's store and restaurant in New York because I so wanted to see it. I took each girl for their birthdays, and they picked out their first dolls. I loved seeing all the dolls and looking at the books and learning the dolls' backstories. I find American Girl such an empowering brand for girls and feel so fortunate to have been asked to contribute to their dolls' storyline.

AGDN- How did it feel when you asked to write Z's first book?

JC-I got to watch Z's American Girl stop-motion YouTube videos, which are so popular, and I knew immediately this was a girl/doll I could relate to! Even though I'm not a vlogger, I feel like writing and vlogging go hand in hand. They are both creative mediums and I identified with Z's need to create as a tween. It's something I did a lot at her age. I wrote my friends' short stories all the time! They'd come to me and ask for specific storylines and I loved doing it!

AGDN- How did you come up with Z's story?

JC-American Girl is so smart and has such a clear understanding of what they want to project in their stories. I loved their vision for Z Yang from the very beginning.

AGDN- What is your favorite American Girl doll besides Z?

JC- I love Kit Kittredge and would love to get her doll! I love that she's so into the news and reporting. I guess that's why I relate to her so well--I started out as a magazine reporter before I become an author. I love the 1930s too and Kit's outfit that she comes in is one that I just adore.

AGDN- If you got called back to do another American Girl book, what would the character's story be like?

JC- Hmm...I'd be open to anything! I really love getting the chance to write a story young girls can relate to and feel empowered by. I know Kit has already hit the news angle, but if there was another doll that loved to write or wanted to create stories, I'd find that fun. It's truly so nice to be asked to be part of this world.

Thanks so much Jen for doing this! If you want to learn more about Jen, go to her website:

AMERICAN GIRL TRIVIA: The Truly Me dolls used to come with blank books to write your doll's story.

COMMENT DISCUSSION QUESTION: What author should I interview next?

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