Ruby Pi Adventure Series

Tom Durwood Author Interview

Ruby Pi Adventure Series is a collection of short stories that takes readers on an adventure through history where they must use STEM skills to solve the mystery. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

When I came across the mystifying fact that there is a dramatic drop-off of female STEM students at age 14, this became my challenge. The idea was to write a handful of stories to capture in human terms the wonder of Bayes’ Rule, and the Pythagorean theorem, and the measurement of earth’s curvature. The fact that I know very little math has not stopped me.

It seemed natural to place the stories at critical moments in history – the end of the High Maya, the fall of the Maginot Line, Mao’s Great Leap Forward and subsequent Famine of 1957, Martin Luther King Jr.’s last speech, the launch of Sputnik, George Soros’ assault on the Bank of England, etc.

The project gained momentum until it got out of hand. When I reached ten stories with nine different girl protagonists (Ruby appears twice), I cut the collection into two volumes.

Cleverly, I have surrounded myself with very talented people like Sandra Uve (foreword), Mai Nguyen (illustrator), and book designer Ben Kelley. I think the resulting two volumes give readers good value.

An underlying reason for my tackling STEM topics is that I don’t understand them, and I want to.

What is your background and experience in writing and in math, and how did it help you write the Ruby Pi Adventure Series?

I’m an English teacher, with an interest in history, pulp fiction, and critical thinking, and no aptitude in math. I am therefore the perfect person to tackle these adventure stories.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I felt that, if I could craft an honest story about a girl coming of age — and using math to carve a place in the world for herself and her family — it would be timelessly relevant. Tying my so-so writing talent to a universal set of rules is a positive.

As to specific topics, I wanted to find powerful math concepts that would hook a 14-year- old girl. Bayes’ Rule jumped out because it is such a universal tool for decision-making. Battlefield math is an easy call, and the curvature of sniper fire was a big topic at Valley Forge Military College, where I taught. Forecasting is something that all of our students need to know. The examination of volumes really grew out of the kiln story. I love the legend of Yuri Knorosov and the Maya codex and wanted to place my heroine in the middle of that. Again, that math grew out of the story.

I do not have enough real mathematics in the stories. I am working on a free-to-readers booklet by math teachers as a companion to these stories, to bridge that gap between my fiction and teaching in a classroom.

Will there be a third book in the series, if so, when will it be available?

Yes!! I have mapped out subsequent collections of historical adventures of Botany Girls, Chemistry Girls, Science Girls, Aviation Girls, and more. A Ruby story will end each collection. I hope to collaborate with other writers on these, with me editing some and writing some.

As I look at the history of each discipline, key moments jump out, so there are lots of possibilities.

This is my way of narrativizing science. This is what I have to offer.

I am currently working on “Aviation Girls.” The aim is to post this collection in December, 2023. I hope the next year will also see the completion of an epic, dark sequel to my Suez novella, “The Illustrated Boatman’s Daughter.”

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook



About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on January 14, 2023, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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