Monday, December 22, 2008

Author Interview! Dave and Lillian Brummet, authors of Trash Talk, and Towards Understanding

Hello everyone! I hope you are enjoying your week! I have decided to put up a surprise author interview. I am currently reviewing Trash Talk, Dave and Lillian's guide to help you save the environment, while saving money. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did!

Q: When Writing Trash Talk, how long did it take you to come up with all of that useful information about saving the environment while saving money?

Answer: Well, the concept began 1998 during a discussion with one of the clients of a business I was running then serving the upper middle class. She was ashamed to be seen taking in returnable items (i.e. soda and alcohol containers) because her friends would see her as a “scrooge”. The same thing with getting second hand children’s Halloween costumes – she just couldn’t be seen doing that either. She could see the sense in it, but because her family could afford more she just couldn’t see herself doing these kinds of conscious living activities. But then when the recycling blue box pick up service started in her neighborhood she just had to have that box out there so her neighbors could see she was participating. It was then that I realized that society needed to be shown that waste management was not always a matter of money, it is certainly not about false pride; its about leaving a lasting legacy and living a conscious lifestyle. So when a course I was taking on writing had an assignment on nonfiction articles the Trash Talk articles were born. That column ran for nearly 8 years and was published internationally. Dave helped at every turn in the journey, he was my counselor and supporter, but also my editor and proofreader. Eventually we decided a book was in order and we compiled all of the articles, along with more than 140 resources and a lot of additional information into the book Trash Talk. So all of the information took about 10 years to get to the stage we see in the book now.

Q: Where did you find all of the sources for your research?

Answer: We were both raised by very conscious living parents; their every day activities involved reuse – seeing value in something that would normally be looked at as useless. With that kind of background, it was easy for us to continue the lifestyle when Dave and I began our life as a couple. Over the years we have been members of a variety of organizations such as the Canadian Wildlife Federation, Granby Wilderness Society, Seeds of Diversity, the Recycling Counsel of BC and Zero Waste San Diego. These organizations, among dozens of others, proved to be invaluable along the way. The Internet is the key to any writer’s career; anything you want to know is there.

Q: Have you ever written any YA or adult fiction before? If not, will you?

Answer: I have several short fiction stories in the works now, but no – neither of us have written fiction as part of our career just yet. Dave has amazing talent with fiction and has several fantastic projects he’s been working on – but time is always a factor for us so these projects are often set aside for months on end. Non-fiction is the most lucrative market for most freelance writers and it is how we began our career, which lead into 3 published books and hosting two radio programs… who knows where we’ll go from here? J

Q: Was it hard to have 2 people writing the same book?

Answer: Not at all. I know a lot of folks might cringe at the idea of working with their spouse, but balance is really the key. Understanding each other’s strengths and knowing when to use them will keep the relationship going. For instance, the research and information gathering, the outline, first and second manuscript drafts are often my responsibility. Dave comes in and works magic with the words, using humor and reaching the audience in a way that it seems we are simply having a cup of coffee and a nice discussion with them – rather than telling them how to do something. His editing, proofreading and rewriting skills are essential to every piece that leaves the office. Dave is a talented musician and is also quite gifted with graphics and photographs – so he handles the CD or book cover designs, various ads, images that accompany our articles and maintains our main website as well ( I do most of the marketing – handling the contacts, keeping track of who needs to be followed up on and setting aside all our records in an orderly way so that Dave can prepare our books for the accountant. I handle the blog, newsletter, myspace site as well as the networking, social networking, and hosting activities for our 2 radio shows. So you see, we work well together because we know how to divvy up the chores and get things done without stepping on each other.

Q: How much did you write a day in general?

Answer: An excellent question. How long I spend writing varies. For the creation of a book like Trash Talk I was writing, editing, rewriting or researching for the book 6-10 hours a day, 6 days per week for almost a year. Once the manuscript was done, there was very little writing for that project except for the query letters, press releases and other items that come about with the marketing end of things.

Q: What are some other things you do to save money, and the environment that you didn't include in Trash Talk?

Answer: Certainly – the book was really only the beginning. In fact the Trash Talk column continued 3 years after the book was published and we could still be writing it today, if we hadn’t decided to move on to other writing activities. With that in mind I suppose one could say there is enough material for a sequel to the book. J For our everyday life – with every project, we look at how we can reuse something rather than purchasing a new product. For instance we gleaned used wood to create more than 1/2 the fencing around our property. The scraps from that project were used to build the raised flowerbeds that now surround our cement pad patio area. We upgraded our car by leasing the safest and most environmental car available that fit our budget. We upgraded our bikes so that we can continue to use them rather then the car whenever the weather allows. For the holiday gift giving season this year we created trays of mixed cookies, cakes and balls; meals of lasagna, stew or enchiladas; and home made ornaments. To present these gifts, we placed them in reusable containers and homemade reusable gift boxes and gift bags.

Q: When you were younger, did you learn basic steps to saving the environment?

Answer: Well sort of. Neither of our parents are environmentalists and both of our parents are just now getting on the recycling systems in the cities where they reside. However we just sort of felt that living that way was right for us and the more we learned to be more environmental, the more we felt at ease in this life. Being gardeners played a huge role in how we felt about the environment. One can see the direct impact of small changes in a micro system, and one can also benefit by being exposed to the myriad and variables of the life there. We grow everything organically – we even build the soil we grow in with healthy compost and worm castings – amending only with kelp meal and a few minerals.

Dave and I both love the environment itself. I was constantly being called off of the mountains by my mother when I was young – being told to get down from the tree or to come into the house. Dave and I found we love to do soft impact activities, meaning we leave very little footprint when canoeing, hiking or mountain biking. When outdoors, we tend to clean up trails and streams, lakes and beaches… and this led to the lifestyle we have today.

Q: What would you say to someone that just littered in front of you?

Answer: It would depend on the situation I suppose. For me it isn’t about pointing fingers and making judgments or accusations… it is about taking personal responsibility. How much better am I if I decide to walk past that item the person just dropped? However, to answer your question, if it was a friend – I’d confront them with their unconscious action in as kind of a way as possible. Some people just haven’t considered the impact that they have. If it the individual was a stranger I’d probably just pick the item up and dispose of it in the recycling bin. The fact that I took action will not be lost on those around me, whether I decide to make a speech or not. They will see me picking up that garbage and that will spark change in their lives. It might sound corny but it is totally true! Let me tell you this story…

About 9 or 10 years ago I started cleaning up the streets around my neighborhood while walking the dog we had then, and was very shy about doing so. I tried to time it so I was out when my neighbors were at work or when they’d be the least likely to see me – or I’d make Dave come out with me. Eventually the work I was doing spread out a little further and I was cleaning by some busier roads. I often worried what those people driving by must be thinking. Then one day I was approached by a neighbor who said she thought what I was doing was wonderful. Then someone drove by and said a similar thing. Soon I realized that some of the garbage I had seen earlier, but hadn’t gotten yet had been removed… and then I noticed this happening time and time again, even on trails where I thought no one was aware that clean up projects had been done. You see, what happened was that people had witnessed the actions we were taking and began taking action themselves because they could see the direct result of it first hand. I didn’t say a thing to anyone - didn’t lecture them about having litter on their property line… didn’t leave little notes on their doors – I just cleaned it up.

Q: What is some advice you would give to anyone that wants to become an author?

Answer: The best advice any author could receive is: Do your research. Whatever stage you are at, whatever you are facing – research it. Find out the details from other authors and research the person or business you hope to work with. Find out what their guidelines and policies are, make a note of the person you will be dealing with. Provide them with exact and complete information.

Always research your market and query them in a professional manner before sending a finished product. Doing it right is essential - there is but little chance to make an impression with a reviewer, editor, reader or publication. However, even with the best of preparation you will be caught off guard or unprepared. Don't sweat it too much if you make a mistake. Think of it as a lesson.

Q: What inspired you most to write about this topic?

Answer: I felt compelled to leave a real legacy – I realized, through a series of accidents, that all one’s degrees and acquirements, their finances or careers… all of it can be taken away in seconds… and what was that person’s efforts worth? What was their value… the reason why they survived and are here today? These are the driving questions that lead me to reach for new ways of creating positive change in this life.

With deeper understanding into the incredible value of individual actions and how little we realized our value as an individual – I was driven even further. I read a study that said that 66% of us would do more positive actions in life if we really felt that it had a measurable impact. Society is so depressed, we feel bombarded by negativity and yet by taking positive action our emotions become elevated and we feel better about life. At the same time, by taking direct action on a daily basis we save money around the home and office, easing financial burdens.

So with this understanding I have felt compelled to continue this project of reaching others, showing them how they can make a real and measurable difference. I am energized when I find a new way of revealing how waste management –even simple things like composting- has a profound impact on the planet. That is why I’m so excited about our Conscious
Discussions talk radio program – it offers us a whole new way of reaching people giving our life meaning by doing so


Diana Dang said...

Aiee, I have to do an interview with them too! But I never got the chance to get around it. Lol, you have a couple of questions there I was planning to ask. Better come up with new ones. Px

Diana Dang said...

Oh yes, and that is a great interview. =) Would never thought of asking some of those questions you have there.

addicted reader said...

Sorry about stealing some of them from you Diana!!! THats soo cool that we get to interview the same people! Thanks for reading the interview! I'll be looking forward to yours!

Diana Dang said...

Haha, it's alright! There is so much one can ask!

You're welcome! =)

addicted reader said...

Lol, I hear ya! lol