NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
TRUDI TRUEIT: Yes! I’ve been writing stories since I was 7. Once in second grade I wrote a ghost story that my teacher really liked—but she made me do it over because she couldn’t read my handwriting. But guess what? When I rewrote it, I improved the story.
NAT GEO KIDS: Why did you want to become a writer?
TRUDI: I was really shy and quiet as a kid. But when I wrote, I could say anything I wanted, and people would pay attention and listen to me. Words can be very powerful, so writing was a way for me to say what I was thinking.
NAT GEO KIDS: How long did it take you to write The Nebula Secret?
TRUDI: About six months.
NAT GEO KIDS: Did you know what was going to happen in the story before you started writing?
TRUDI: I wrote out a seven- to eight-page synopsis about where the story would go, what the main plot points would be, and how it would end. Then I just started writing to fill everything else in.
NAT GEO KIDS: Do you just write from beginning to end?
TRUDI: Sort of. I write in the order that things happen in the book, but every day when I start—usually around 6 a.m.—I read what I wrote the day before and rewrite what needs fixing.
NAT GEO KIDS: And how do you figure out what happens next?
TRUDI: Sometimes the characters tell me.
NAT GEO KIDS: Um, what?
TRUDI: If I’ve made a character who’s real and true, then a lot of times they’ll “talk” to me. They’ll tell me things, like, “Oh, I’d never do that” or “This isn’t something I’d do,” and I can practically hear their voices. I even dream about Cruz, the main character!
NAT GEO KIDS: Was there something major that you changed in the book after writing it?
TRUDI: When I first started writing, I knew that Emmett, who is Cruz’s best friend at Explorer Academy, was going to be the guy who tried to keep Cruz out of trouble. But he ended up being a stick in the mud, always saying, “Don’t do this, don’t do that.” I remember all of a sudden Cruz’s friend Sailor telling me, “Hey! I don’t like this guy!” And I stopped and thought, “Huh. I don’t either.”
NAT GEO KIDS: So what happened?
TRUDI: I came up with the idea of Emmett’s emoto-glasses—the glasses Emmett invents that can change color and shape depending on his mood. I wanted to give him something that would make him seem fun and cool without getting rid of his cautiousness. And by just putting those glasses on him, Emmett stopped being whiny and boring. Now he’s interesting and fun. But I had to go back and rewrite all of his dialogue!
Interview by Rachel Buchholz. Character art by Scott Plumbe. Cover art by Antonio Javier Caparo.
READ ABOUT HOW TRUDI CAME UP WITH THE BOOK'S CHARACTERS,
AS WELL AS HER METHOD FOR DREAMING UP THE FUTURISTIC TECHNOLOGY. THEN CHECK OUT THE INTERVIEW IN WHICH TRUDI SPILLS SOME SECRETS ABOUT HERSELF!