Melissa de la Cruz is the author of more than 50 books, among them several bestsellers. She has been publishing with Disney since 2006, inspiring readers of all ages to engage not just with Disney original series and movies, but with her own compelling characters. High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: The Road Trip (Disney Hyperion, April 1) takes readers on the exhilarating adventures of the “real East High” students as they travel to a High School Musical convention and challenge themselves in musical workshops and relationships alike.

In this interview, de la Cruz shares her first experience with High School Musical when her daughter was 8 years old, and the ways in which she has followed the franchise since. She names the teachers who inspired the enthusiastic Miss Jenn—shoutout to English teachers in high schools everywhere!—and how they showed her she could be a writer before she realized it herself. A longtime friend of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series showrunner Tim Federle, she discusses the importance of trust and freedom in building upon an existing series.

From the Kirkus review: “The book contains chapters that offer pithy first-person accounts from each character…The plot includes references to the series and themes straight from the musical: nurturing your talent, showing others how much they matter, and acknowledging the importance of teamwork.[F]ans will appreciate the inside jokes, but explanations in the text make it accessible even to those unfamiliar with the program. A lighthearted and charming read.”