Whew! I planned to post this interview yesterday morning, but we had an insane storm come in early last night. We lost our internet early in the day, and now we have about three inches of ice and another three inches of snow.

Jessica Lee Anderson is the author of Trudy, the Milkweed Prize for Children’s Literature winning novel. It’s a fabulous book that intrigued me from the moment I saw the cover.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on a middle grade novel about an insecure girl named Calli. Her moms have decided to foster children, which is nothing short of a disaster for Calli. However, by sharing her home with foster children, she rethinks the meaning of family.

Did anyone inspire Trudy?

My grandmother has suffered with Alzheimer’s for the last decade and it has been a painful process to watch her lose everything.

What were your favorite books in school?

I’ve always loved books! I don’t have any favorites (too hard to narrow down!), but I read almost everything by Judy Blume. (I even named a pet turtle “Dribble.”) I read My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George several times too.

What are some books that you have recently enjoyed??

I just finished TTFN by Lauren Myracle – I literally laughed out loud several times. Another book I just read and loved was Looking for Alaska by John Green.

What did you do before you were a published author?

I was a teacher (K-6). I still teach, but now I teach a writing course.

If Trudy were to be made into a movie, who would you want to play the characters?

This is a tough one because I have my own mental snapshot of my characters. Not to cop out on the question, but I’d like to see who the casting director would choose. I think Abigail Breslin is a great actress and is around the same age (11).

Did you have any teachers like Ms.Gwen?

Yes! Her names was Ms. Wilson and she helped me through a tough, lonely time when I moved from Hawaii to Texas. She cared deeply like Ms. Gwen.

How long did it take you to write Trudy? How many drafts?

It took about six months to write, although it went through about six drafts. I wrote the book in 2002 and it came out in print in 2005.

What was the hardest chapter to write?

I’d say all of the chapters in the last 1/3 of the book since I felt Trudy’s emotions so deeply since the disease hits close to home for my family.

Did you write as a kid? How much?

I did, but I wasn’t confident since I stunk at writing school assignments. I wrote short stories when I was young and wrote my first “book” when I was in 6th grade. I tried writing a novel in high school, but the middle of it fizzed out.

What is your favorite part of being an author?

I love the craft of storytelling and becoming so involved in the plot/characters that I feel as if I’ve escaped. I’ve received some emails/letters from readers telling me what Trudy meant to them and how, which always makes me feel overwhelmed and touched. I also adore doing school visits and connecting with students.

Have you ever considered blogging?

I love to read blogs, but I’m rather inconsistent about blogging. I occasionally post a blog on my Myspace account.

How long did it take you to come up with chapter titles?

The chapter titles flowed naturally, and after drafting each chapter, I created the titles.

What was your publishing experience like?

Let me just say I love my editor! He did an amazing job of bringing out Trudy’s personality. Milkweed Editions is a smaller publisher and everyone was great to work with. It did take a while from the point of submission to publication, but that is part
of the process.

Do you plot extensively or just sit down and write?

This depends on the project. I’ve worked on some projects for educational publishes, which requires outlines and much preparation. When writing fiction, I plot the story in my head and “listen” to my characters. Then comes the fun of sitting down and
letting the story organically take shape.

Are there any questions you’ve wished you could answer, but no one ever asks?
Who is my writing role model?
David LaRochelle. I met him at a conference and he provided some incredible advice and guidance. He is a voracious writer and has spanned many genres. I absolutely adore his books, especially Absolutely, Positively Not.