October Theme (Inspiration): Girl In the Mirror by Trudi Trueit

The tiniest spark of an idea for a book can come from anywhere, anyone, or anything at any time. Over the years, my work has been influenced by thousands of things, some as unexpected as a stroll through the mall, others as fearsome as a life-threatening asthma attack. But when I really consider what it is that that propels me to create, what truly moves me to write, it is nothing that can be found in the outside world. Ideas come from without. Inspiration comes from within. And for me, inspiration comes down to two things.

The first is heartache. In elementary school, I was a nerdy, uncoordinated, class brain who wore cat’s eye glasses and had unruly hair. That's me over there on the left side of the page (my Carol Brady hair brushed into 'school photo day' submission). Suffice to say I know a bit about childhood angst. I remember how painful it was when I got teased about my glasses, my weight, my hair, my straight A’s, my clarinet, or my name (Trudi Fruity - ugh!). I just never seemed to fit in. Fortunately, I found solace reading books and writing stories and plays.

A few years ago, I tapped into this loneliness and frustration when writing the Julep O’Toole series. Julep gets her journal read out loud over the P.A. system, she throws up on the gym floor, she gets her skirt caught in the automatic toilet. All fictional situations, of course (and not all in the same book), but these ideas were born out of my own struggles to find my place at school, in my family, and in the world.

The second seed of my inspiration is hope. Hope helps you survive the heartache of life. It is what lifts you up. It is the promise that tomorrow just might be better than today. It's also one of the reasons why I, personally, like to read. When I was in the sixth grade, I found a friend - my first real and true best friend. We passed notes, wrote silly poetry, and made up fun nicknames for each other. I was Trubin (so much better than Trudi Fruity!). We laughed a lot, which is why I love to write stories infused with plenty of humor. Our friendship helped me cope with my awkwardness and my feelings of not fitting in. It eased the pain. The joy of friendship is often reflected in my work. In Secrets of a Lab Rat: No Girls Allowed (Dogs Okay), the main character, Scab, says his best friend, Doyle, knows him “from the bones out.” It's all I wanted as a child, someone to know me and love me, for me.

This week, I am finishing final revisions on a tween novel called Stealing Popular (Aladdin, fall 2012). It’s about a new girl at school, who is frustrated by the way the popular girls, The Somebodies, treat the unpopular girls, The Nobodies. Furious at the social injustices she sees going on unchecked around her, the heroine takes it upon herself “to steal from the fabulous and give to the freaks.”

There they are again. Heartache and hope.
Wouldn't you know it?