Hello Readers! This month I had the honor of interviewing Trudi Trueit, talented author of the Julep O' Toole books. Kick back, relax, and enjoy the interview (and pick up a Julep book when you're all done)!
Bookworm:What inspired you to write the Julep O' Toole books?
Trudi: I think I knew what I didn't want to write before I knew what I did want. I didn't want to create a tragedy with sick or dying family members. And I didn't want to write a fairy story (no magic dust or special powers). I wanted to write about an ordinary girl who has to grapple with everyday realities like uncooperative hair, a crazed PE teacher, and a wardrobe her mom picked out (ugh). Although many of Julep's challenges bend toward the extreme (not many of us get sucked into an automatic toilet), all the things that happen to Julep could happen to you or me. We all struggle to find our place in the world. If readers see that in Julep, and see the humor in it, then maybe it will help them get through the rough patches in their own lives with a lighter heart.
Bookworm: Did you always know that you were going to be an author?
Trudi: I always knew that I was going to be a writer, but not an author. I got hooked on storytelling in the second grade when I wrote a ghost story and my teacher read it to the class. I saw the way the other kids listened intently, and I realized that writing could be a powerful thing. It could capture people, get them thinking, and entertain them all at once. It became a passion. I wrote a teen newspaper column for my local newspaper at age 13 (it was the closest thing we had to a blog back in those days). I fell in love with journalism; telling other people's stories and sharing their issues. In my career, I've been a TV news reporter (and weather forecaster), a media specialist, and a freelance writer. After doing all of these things, I felt I was ready to tell my own stories.
Bookworm: What was childhood like?
Trudi: I grew up in Kent, WA, a middle-class suburb of Seattle. My mom stayed home for most of my childhood, then went to work part-time when I was 12. My dad was a computer programmer (for some reason, I did not inherit his math genes). My parents were, and still are, my biggest supporters. However, one of my siblings was emotionally difficult and rebellious, and that disrupted our family harmony. I think I was over-compensated. I felt it was my responsibility to be the perfect daughter and the perfect student. I was hard on myself. Maybe that's why Julep is just an average student. She's far from perfect. But she is all the things that really matter: compassionate, unselfish, and loving.
Bookworm: Is Julep based on you?
Trudi: Like Julep, I am a middle-child, with an older sister and a younger brother who has asthma. Julep's longing to find her value certainly came from my own experience. But Julep is definitely her own person. She is feisty, defiant, and an average student. I was a shy, straight-A, never-break-the-rules type of girl. But that's the beauty of writing. Your characters can say and do things that you would never dare. I am probably most similar to Julep's BFF, Bernadette (who, by the way, is named after my calico cat). Bernadette is Julep's conscience. She thinks everything to death. That's me.
Bookworm Readers would like to give a big thank you to Trudi Trueit. Also, watch out for her new series, Secrets of a Lab Rat, about a fourth-grader named Scab, who "loves concocting strange inventions and tormenting his sister, Isabelle"! Book #1, No Girls Allowed (Dogs Okay), published by Simon and Schuster's Aladdin Books, will be coming out in the spring of 2009, so keep your eyes peeled!