|A lesson many learn on the road to individual fulfillment is that poverty can
rear its ugly head at the worse of times. No matter how prepared we may be,
the unforeseen always happens. Some have learned to cope in inventive ways
and none have been as creative as the latest Villard Books release, "The
As a student at University Of Pennsylvania, author Angela Nissel found a
therapeutic release in posting a semi-daily entry on the Internet. Her small,
school-based website found readers relating to her tales of textbook scamming
and Ramen noodle hustling. It became her obsession and her site garnered an
underground following. She aimed to show an honest slice of college life
from a student who didn't have the privileges of unlimited financial
resources. And with the popularity of shows such as "Survivor" and "Big
Brother," Nissel's diary reads as if the reader is not supposed to have
access to her day-to-day activities. Nissel's personable writing style
invites you into her life in a most intimate fashion. It has all the makings
of a guilty pleasure.
In a recent conversation with MetroConx, Ms. Nissel revealed her insight
about writing "The Diaries."
CHANDLER: What is/was your aim for doing "The Broke Diaries" and what do you
hope readers gain from it?
NISSEL: I used to write "The Broke Diaries" for free. I started writing them
because, well, I was broke and the Internet kept me sane. Being able to
combine the two (I used to put the entries on my website at UPenn) made life
a little more fun. When people wrote me to share their stories or just to
tell me I made them laugh, it felt so wonderful, it kinda got addicting! I
hope people get to see the real side of struggling through college. I hope
people escape into the book. I hope people laugh, laugh, then laugh some
more. I love making people laugh. When you're laughing...at that second the
laughter is coming out of your mouth, you're not worried about anything.
You're lost in laughter. I like doing that for people.
CHANDLER: Are you interested in doing any novels or does time not allow for
NISSEL: Unlike authors who get advances they can live off of, I think I'll
have to put the novel on hold for a bit until I figure out how to handle the
day job and the Hollywood stuff that's coming at me. I am also working with
director Reginald Hudlin ("House Party," "Boomerang") on bringing "The Broke
Diaries" to TV. There has been a bunch of interest and well, can you imagine
seeing something you used to write for free to keep your sanity as a TV
series? So, that's my second job now.
CHANDLER: Are times still lean for you or have you broken the "broke" cipher?
NISSEL: For me, having broken the broke cipher means I can keep my fridge
stocked and feed my cats non-no frills cat food. So, yes, I have broken the
broke cipher. It amazing that through writing a book about how broke I was, I
realize how little money means and how little we really need to live. It's
the "keeping up with the Joneses" that kills our pockets. I have to admit
though, I do want to splurge on a Gucci hat.
CHANDLER: Anything you wish to state to your fans or detractors?
NISSEL: It's weird to think of having fans. If people like the book, then
they're probably the same as my friends who laughed at the stories I told
over dinner. Cool folks with a sense of humor. I doubt anyone will throw
panties or boxers at me at my book signings.
Detractors? If they don't get it, they don't get it. I just hope they put
their time and energy into doing something they like instead of tearing me
down. It's better for their souls. Plus, I'm the broke chick who was writing
stories online...any feedback I get, positive or negative, is more than I was
getting before. It's a book, `dernit.' If you're not sure if you'll like it
or afraid you'll waste your money, get it from the library!
Nissel's broke days are apparently behind her right now. In addition to her
new title as author, and possibly creator of a television show, she is
co-founder and site manager for OkayPlayer.com, one of the Internet's most
popular music and message forum sites. You can meet Nissel and share stories
from your own "Broke Diaries" on April 24, 7:30 p.m. at Barnes & Noble (555
12th Street NW, Washington, DC). Call 202-347-0176 for more information about
this tour date. For more information about the broke diva check out her