Transcript: Children Chatting with Brianna DuMont

DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a certified or verbatim transcript, but rather represents only the context of the class or meeting, subject to the inherent limitations of real-time captioning. The primary focus of real-time captioning is general communication access and as such this document is not suitable, acceptable, nor is it intended for use in any type of legal proceeding.Transcript by

Children Chatting Podcast: Discussion between Brianna DuMont and the Children Chatting Kids

DANIELLA: Hello everyone! You are listening to Children Chatting with Authors. Today, we're going to be joined by Brianna DuMont, author of the nonfiction series, Changed History.

LAUREN: So this question is from Daniella, and she asks, how did you choose which stories to include? Did you do specific research or did you stumble upon certain things?

BRIANNA DUMONT: The answer is both. Absolutely. So I love to watch documentaries and I'm always reading different articles. And whenever I come across somebody who sounds cool, that I've never heard of, I have a huge file I keep, handwritten and on my computer, and I just add the name to the list. So I stumble across stuff all the time and I just am always compiling things and looking for patterns. And I'm like, "Well, all these people have something similar. What can I make out of that?" And other times I have a very specific idea.

BRIANNA: Like when I was doing Famous Phonies, I got my degree in classics and I knew that Homer had never existed. Like that's just a well-known fact in the classics world. It's like, there's no way one blind bard was walking around Greece, collecting stories and writing them down. It's an oral tradition that was passed down through the centuries. And I was like, "If he doesn't exist, a bunch of people probably don't exist." So then I had to start stumbling across new ones, but it all started with Homer.

NICHOLAS: My name is Nicholas, and my question is, where did you get the idea for the story?

BRIANNA: Where do I get the idea for the stories? So, as I said, it's a lot of just stumbling across cool people and seeing the patterns and seeing how they fit and connect together. And then once you have a couple of names, it's a lot more research. You can spend hours going down different holes and finding new stories, and one usually connects to another. So it's mostly just reading, writing a lot, watching a lot TV is mostly documentaries, and keeping notes.

LAUREN: My name is Lauren, I'm the children's librarian at the Studio City Library. And Brianna, I noticed that you tried in all three of your books, you tried to get someone from each century. And I was wondering if you did that on purpose?

BRIANNA: I did. I like to go across the range of it instead of having a bunch of groupings. I tend to go more towards the classical world, just cause that's what my background is, and that's what I'm most familiar with. But I know a lot of people especially really love the modern ones, like World War II. So I try to have a World War II person in each one. And then as many women as I could find. And it was a lot more difficult than I was anticipating in the first book. I think there's only one woman and she actually never, really never existed, Pope Joan. It was a lot easier for Thieves, women have been able to cross lines and do things they weren't supposed to do in history under the guise of different things. And we got the woman on the cover for the third book, so that was a coup for me.

SEBASTIEN: Hi, my name's Sebastien. My question is, how did you decide who to put into your books?

BRIANNA: It was a lot of back and forth with the editor. I usually come to the editor with a list of like maybe five extra names that actually get into the book, and we kind of debate who would fit and why. So for nonfiction, this is an interesting fact about writing in general, if you want to be a writer and you want to have your book published, if you write a fiction novel, you have to have the whole book written before you can sell it to a publishing house.

BRIANNA: For nonfiction, you have to write a proposal. And it really is a list, it's a list of chapters and it says what the book is going to be about. And then it's a couple sample chapters to see how you write. So whenever I sold my books, I wrote three chapters and then gave them a list of people that I kind of wanted to include. And then they gave me a deadline, usually a five months after that to write the rest of the book. So I chose them. I really gave them just a wide range and we kind of discussed who should we put in?

BRIANNA: I think for Phonies we actually had Mary Magdalene to go into it. I remember that pretty well. And I'd already written the book, the chapter on it. They're like, "Eh, let's do George Washington instead." So George Washington wasn't even in the original proposal. And then for Fugitives, I think we had some guy that, he didn't even have a name in history, but he stole a bunch of money from Venice. And we're like, "Eh, there's got to be somebody more, somebody who has a name, at least in it." So his picture, they already did the cover art for him. And we got the cover art. So we put his cover art onto the front page of the book, right here, but his chapter never made it in.

BRIANNA: So it's just, it's really a lot of working with the editor to kind of make a decision on who fits the theme the best, who's maybe had a little bit of a well-known name, so people are like, "Oh, I know who this is. I know who Shakespeare is. What does she have to say about Shakespeare that hasn't been said before?" A fine line of not known and known.

SEBASTIEN:Okay. I was wondering if there's going to be an audiobook for them?

BRIANNA: That's a good question. That's a publisher question. I'm not quite sure. I would love to hear an audiobook though. I should tell them about that. I do have, so right now, I'll just tell you that I'm working on a series about Mesopotamian myths. I'm going to be doing that in e-book, audiobook, and paperback book as well. So for some reason, nonfiction, especially children's nonfiction, audiobook kind of isn't as big of a focus. E-book and paperback is especially paperback. I would say that probably not an audiobook. But for the mythology ones, there will be.

SEBASTIEN: Okay. Thank you.

LAUREN: Brianna. Before we let you go, I just wanted to talk a little bit about two people that really stood out to me from your books. So in Thrilling Thieves, Robert Smalls, can you talk a little bit about him?

BRIANNA: Robert Smalls was, actually, I stumbled across him in a really interesting way. I was in South Carolina visiting family and we were walking down by the ocean, and there's a sign there talking about him because that's where he jumped on the boat and sailed to freedom. And I was like, "What is this? I have never heard of this." So I took a picture of the plaque and I went home and I Googled it and I found one book, and he's not even the main person in the book. It's actually about eight men who became the first eight African American men after the Civil War to be in the House of Representatives. And so he only had a couple of chapters, but it was fascinating. And there's the museum in South Carolina, I called them and I asked them a bunch of questions because they know of him and they are the ones that gave me the pictures.

BRIANNA: Let me see, yeah, this picture, that was his tag. And so it was mostly kind of piecing together information that is, I mean, he's ripe for a book of his own at this point, in my opinion. And somebody needs to do it. It probably should not be me. I think he has relative still, like this needs to happen for him.

LAUREN: And then another person that stood out was from your book, fantastic Fugitives, Virginia Hall.

BRIANNA: She's so cool.

LAUREN: Can you tell us a little bit about her?

BRIANNA: I think that she is fascinating in the fact that she just had this will that she would never give up. I mean, after a hunting accident, only had one leg and yet she still managed to hike with one leg through the snowy Alps with two men, she was trying to get them all to safety and I just ... the will to overcome in World War II and to beat evil back is just amazing to me. I don't know if I would have the strength to do it. So she was considered, for everyone who doesn't know who Virginia Hall is, she was considered the most dangerous of all spies. The Nazis would put up signs, saying, "Look out for the woman with the limp." And she would try to train herself to not walk with a limp anymore. But she ended up being one of the most fabulous spies and retired to a life of making goat cheese, which...what a life.

MILES: Thanks for listening to the Children Chatting With Authors Podcast.

[Music outro]

DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a certified or verbatim transcript, but rather represents only the context of the class or meeting, subject to the inherent limitations of real-time captioning. The primary focus of real-time captioning is general communication access and as such this document is not suitable, acceptable, nor is it intended for use in any type of legal proceeding.Transcript by