The Book- Stealing Popular by Trudi Trueit
* Tired of the popular kids at her middle school getting all the breaks, twelve-year old Coco Sherwood is on a mission to steal from the fabulous and give to the freaks. Suddenly, girls who rarely get noticed are making cheer squad and morphing into beauty queens. But when Coco takes on Dijon Randle, the most popular girl at school, her quest to fulfill the dreams of others just might turn into the biggest nightmare of her life! Can Coco get away with Stealing Popular, or will the high and mighty win again? (Goodreads)
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The Interview- with Trudi Trueit
1.Tell me about your road to publication?
It was a loooooong journey! I used to be a TV news reporter (and weather forecaster) and while I really enjoyed telling other people’s stories, I also wanted to tell some of my own. In my spare time, I started writing middle grade fiction and submitting the manuscripts to various editors and agents. Suffice to say, I got some good, constructive feedback but no real nibbles. So I figured fiction was just not part of my future. Since I loved meteorology, I thought it would be fun to write a weather book for kids. I wrote a few chapters and submitted them to Grolier/Scholastic Library Press. An editor offered me a contract to write not just one weather book, but four. The first books I ever published were Clouds, Storm Chasers, The Water Cycle, and Rain, Hail, and Snow for the Franklin Watts imprint. Scholastic came back to me and asked if I would write more books on other topics and my nonfiction career was off and running. I’ve published 74 nonfiction books for children for publishers like Scholastic, Marshall Cavendish, and The Child’s World. While I was working on the weather books, an editor at Penguin who had been reading, and rejecting, my work for about four years, called to say she liked one of my manuscripts – at long last! The book was Confessions of a Middle Child, the first book in the Julep O’Toole series. After Julep, I wrote the Secrets of a Lab Rat series for Simon and Schuster’s Aladdin imprint and my new book is also an Aladdin release.
2. What were your greatest helps along the way?
Without a doubt, my parents, were my biggest champions. Since childhood, I have had visions issues and throughout my life many people told me that I shouldn’t pursue a career in TV news or publishing. My parents, fortunately, weren’t among the pessimists. My mom and dad always told me I could do whatever I had the courage to try. I learned that it was okay to fail – that making mistakes is part of the learning process and that you can’t be afraid to fail. Failure, if you are willing to learn from it, can teach you what you need to know to eventually succeed. It also makes you stronger. Sure, my vision challenges mean I have to do some things differently (my computer screen, for instance, is HUGE!) but I found I didn’t have to let my physical limitations keep me from pursuing my dreams.
My husband, Bill, is also an amazing help! He has always encouraged my writing, even during the lean years when I was getting enough rejections to wallpaper our living room. Now, Bill’s favorite line is, “I always knew you would get published. It was just a matter of time.” I think it’s so important to have people in your life who lift you up, not hold you back.
3. Please describe Stealing Popular in your own words?
It’s the story of a twelve year-old girl named Coco who’s seen a lot of schools in a short amount of time (she’s a Navy brat). Over and over again, at each school, she witnesses the same pattern: an untouchable clique of popular girls dictating the social order. So Coco decides to turn the tables on the popular girls, helping those she calls the ‘nobodies’ get ahead of the ‘somebodies.’ It’s sort of my take on Robin Hood for middle school readers (Coco’s last name is Sherwood, my tribute to the legendary tale). I’m glad society is addressing some of the more extreme forms of bullying that occur in school, but I wanted to explore the more subtle forms of oppression that I think many kids go through – I certainly did. The nasty comment someone makes about your clothes or weight as they pass might not seem significant but it hurts. And, if those insults continue, they can really chip away at your confidence and self-esteem. And then, of course, there’s just that whole way popular kids have of being in command. When I was young, I used to think ‘why does that girl have so much power?’ In the book, Coco asks the same question and the answer is a revelation to her.
4. What are your future plans as an author?
I love delving into the whole dynamic of friendships and relationships, so I hope to do more realistic middle grade and tween fiction. But I also think it’s important to push yourself as a writer, so I would love to do a dystopian novel, a modern-day fairy tale, or a spy series. I like putting a new twist on an old theme. Right now, I am working on a tween love story where the protagonist is a bright girl that is trying to approach love from her head and not her heart. I am an emotional person so it’s a challenge to write a character that doesn’t wear her heart on her sleeve the way I do.
5. Do you have advice for aspiring writers?
I always thought that you either knew how to write or you didn’t, that it was some kind of gift bestowed on the lucky few by the angels. But the truth is that much of a writing is a craft. You can learn how to create a good introduction, strong characters, and a compelling plot. So my advice is to learn as much as you can (and any writer will tell you that you are never finished learning) and then let your heart take over. Tell the story you are aching, and I mean, truly wide-awake-at-two-a.m.-aching to tell. If you are not passionate about your story, how can you expect a reader to be? So ask yourself, if I could only write one book in the world, what would I write about? What would I want to say? Then write and don’t stop until you have finished it. No matter how long it takes, don’t give up.
The Giveaway- Trudi is offering one lucky reader a signed copy of her new book! To enter fill out the rafflecopter form below.
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