Thursday, January 5, 2012

January Theme: An Author By Any Other Name by Trudi Strain Trueit

My editor at Scholastic was on the other end of the phone. We were going over a few final revisions for my first set of nonfiction books. “Oh, and by the way," she said, "how do you want your name to appear on the cover?”

“My name? I, uh . . . uh . . . ”

I didn’t know how to answer.

I had long imagined the day when, at last, I’d see MY name on the cover of a book. But now, I had two names—maiden and married—and I wasn’t sure which one(s) to use on my very first books. Sensing my dilemma, my editor told me to think it over and get back to her in a couple of days.

As a kid, I liked my uniquely spelled first name. Even if it did rhyme with Fruity (to aid the boys in teasing me). My last name was all right, too, even if it did rhyme with Brain (also most helpful in the teasing arena given I was a straight-A student). Other than that, I had never much thought about what my name signified until that day when my editor asked me who I wanted to be.

Who did I want to be?

The easiest solution would be to use my married name, Trudi Trueit. But would people think I had made it up? I got routinely quizzed about it at the grocery store, the post office, the bank, etc. “Is that your real name?” I'd get the cocked eyebrow. Maybe I should just go with my maiden name. Or how about both maiden and married names? Were three names on the cover too much? Maybe I should do something different, like initials, except they always reminded me of one of those shady, personal injury lawyers.

Were you injured in a car accident? Don’t sign anything until you talk to T.S. Trueit. 

It was a momentous decision and it kept me tossing for the next two nights. Whatever name I chose would follow me for the remainder of my writing career, that is, if I had a writing career beyond the four-book, weather series Scholastic had contracted me to write. “You will,” said my mother with comforting assurance. My parents have always been my greatest champions. Despite the visions issues I was born with, they never stopped reminding me I could accomplish anything I wanted; I was only limited in life by my own fears. And then there was my husband, Bill, who let me cry on his shoulder after each manuscript rejection (and there were so many), dried my eyes, and told me to try again. These people, these wonderful people, had faith far beyond my own.

My mom, Shirley, holding me not long after my eye surgery
I had made my decision. I e-mailed my editor that I would be Trudi Strain Trueit. If I was getting on this new, exciting, crazy ride called publishing, Mom, Dad, and Bill - my own personal cheerleaders - were coming with me.

And that was that.


In every nonfiction book I have published (74, so far) I was, and will always be, Trudi Strain Trueit. When I published my first fiction book in 2005, I decided to go with Trudi Trueit on the cover so young readers could more easily find me. But look inside any of my fiction and you will find Trudi Strain Trueit on the title pages.

I know my name isn’t flashy or romance-novel worthy. For that I would need to be Giselle Fairchild or Chandra St. Claire. But it is a reflection of where I came from and the ones who have loved me. It is my unique and glorious history. Looking back, I now see that the question I was really pondering about my name on my first book cover wasn't, who do I want to be but rather, who am I? And that's a much better question for a writer, or anyone, to answer, don't you think?

p.s. For the sake of brevity my website is www.truditrueit.com, but log on and notice what appears at the top of every web page.

6 comments:

  1. I love your name, Trudi! I used to worry no one would be able to pronounce my last name; NO ONE could get it right when I was younger. SCHINDLER'S LIST really helped things out, though. :)

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  2. I like your point of taking your parents and Bill with you by using both names. Luckily your maiden name is short. So the whole name, Trudi Strain Trueit, is short and only five syllables. And Trudi Trueit is catchy, and easy for kids to remember.

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  3. When I first started reading your post, I thought ... Yep. I had to deal with that name decision, too. But I didn't do it nearly as elegantly or eloquently as you. I loved reading this.

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  4. Thank you, Holly, Jean, and Jody - lovely women with equally lovely names!

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  5. Love the story behind the names! Thanks for sharing and nice to meet you!

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