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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



The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Geometry Girls & The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Math Girls

Mathematics helps to have critical thinking and a logical mind. But many young students doubt its application in everyday life. However, this science is all around us and helps us to solve all kinds of situations. Tom Durwood demonstrates this in the Ruby Pi Adventure Series. In this collection of two books, different girls solve cases using applied mathematics.

The series consists of The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Geometry Girls and The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Math Girls. Each book contains five stories with valuable lessons about the use of geometry, the Gaussian series, and more. Among the mysteries are topics including cartography, economics, architecture, and more. The details for solving the mysteries are verifiable, and each story is set in a different time and place in the narrative, providing a variety of content in a reading that is easy to follow.

The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Geometry Girls is the first book in the series, and its first protagonist is Rupashana Lal Pyradhakrishnan, called Ruby Pi. Who also appears in the first story of The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Math Girls. But the stories are independent and can be read in any order. I liked how Tom Durwood creatively shows science, perfect for inspiring a teenage audience to find their own way in the mathematical world. Both books have helpful illustrations and diagrams to understand the riddles and codes to solve. The information shown is from different cultures. And it shows us that knowledge is a gift earned with time, which we should not waste.

Regarding the narrative, some scene changes feel abrupt, although they don’t affect the story. But I would have liked a little more explanation to make the content feel more fluid. But that’s a minor detail, considering that all the stories, though short, convey a lot of valuable information. One of my favorite parts was Tom’s Notes which appear at the end of each adventure. There they describe actual historical data and mathematical curiosities that give a more realistic context to the adventures. It shows that there was a lot of research work for this series. Tom Durwood astutely conveys teaching about subjects not taught so thoroughly in school. That’s why I give it 5 out of 5 stars. Ruby Pi Adventure Series is perfect for young teenagers who love historical fiction with adventure, mystery, and, especially, realism.

The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Geometry Girls Pages: 178 | ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0BFG186JR

The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Math Girls Pages: 205 | ASIN : B0BFGBSZYZ

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