Q&A With Trudi Trueit
In the fourth interview, Explorer Academy author Trudi Trueit takes a break from the book to talk a little about … herself! (For more about Trudi's secrets behind creating the series, check out part one, part two, and part three of our chat.)
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS: Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret introduces readers to a school that trains kids to be explorers. What do you think it means to be an explorer?
TRUDI TRUEIT: I think an explorer is someone who wants a deeper understanding of the world—whether they’re searching for knowledge or exploring underwater caves. It’s someone who pursues his or her passion to make a difference. That’s what I wanted in this series: not just for Cruz and his friends to learn about the world, but to figure out what they’re passionate about and how they can use that to make a difference.
NGK: What’s your favorite animal?
TRUDI: I really like weird animals like slugs, snails, and octopuses. And I like that these weird creatures might help improve our lives. For instance, scientists are studying how slugs move—they actually glide along mucus that they excrete—to improve robot locomotion.
NGK: Cruz has Mexican heritage, Emmett is Chinese-Canadian, Sailor is from New Zealand, Bryndis is from Iceland … basically all of the Explorer Academy students are from all over the world. Which of those places would you most like to visit, and why?
TRUDI: Iceland. The landscapes are so beautiful, with the glaciers and volcanos and everything. I’d love to see it.
NGK: Do you have pets?
TRUDI: Yes! Three cats, and at least one is usually sitting on my desk when I’m writing. Pippin is just the sweetest boy. Woody got his name after a vet found him living in a woodpile. And Emmylou is still a kitten and loves taking naps with her brothers.
NGK: When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
TRUDI: I’ve always wanted to write. I was on my school newspaper when I was 12, and my teacher encouraged me to ask the local newspaper editor if I could write for her. And she let me! I started writing a column about things that were important to kids. It just shows that you can always find ways to express your passion no matter where you are.
NGK: What are your favorite fiction books for tweens?
TRUDI: When I was a kid, I loved this book called Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me by E.L. Konigsburg. It was all about friendship and really inspired me to write books in which friendship is a very powerful thing.
I also love Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, The Giver by Lois Lowry, Holes by Louis Sachar, and Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.
NGK: If you could give advice to your 10-year-old self, what would it be?
TRUDI: I was the tallest kid in my class, wore glasses, had crazy hair, and played the saxophone and the clarinet. So I never felt like I belonged, and I always wanted to be someone else. But all those things made me who I am today, and I like myself today! So I would tell my 10-year-old self to hold on to who you are. Don’t try to fit in—the world should fit to you, not the other way around.
Interview by Rachel Buchholz
READ ABOUT HOW TRUDI CAME UP WITH THE BOOK'S CHARACTERS, AS WELL AS HER METHOD FOR DREAMING UP THE FUTURISTIC TECHNOLOGY AND HER WRITING PROCESS.