Transcript: Children Chatting With Author Amy Hest

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: Discussion between Amy Hest and the Children Chatting members

DANIELLA: Hello everyone! You're listening to Children Chatting With Authors. Today, we are going to be joined by award-winning author, Amy Hest of the book, The Summer We Found the Baby. And, I have a question for Amy. My name's Daniella. So my question is what inspired you to write this story, and why did you choose to set it in New York as opposed to a small town?

AMY HEST: Well, that's interesting. Then why did I choose to write this story? It's about World War II, and I'm very attached to things that happened during World War II, but on the home front, because my dad was a soldier in World War II, and I wasn't even born. I wasn't born till 1950, which is after World War II, but I used to hear a lot of stories about his being a soldier and his being away from home for three years. And, and that started me thinking about, about writing a book set in that time and during World War II. And I set the book in a small town east of where I live. I live in New York City. I live smack in the middle of New York City, but I wanted this to be set in a beach town, and I totally made up the town called Belle Beach.

AMY HEST: But I could picture it when I was writing the story. I could absolutely picture it and I wanted to be there on that beach with those kids. And I love babies and I love the idea of finding a baby, I thought it was just so, what could be more exciting for goodness sakes than finding a baby? I can't imagine, and maybe finding a puppy and [inaudible 00:01:59] to me that would be also very exciting, but finding a baby, it was just, I don't know. It just seemed so dreamy to me. I wanted to write that story and I knew right away whose baby it was. So it was kind of a mystery when I was writing it, trying to figure out step by step, how to unravel the mystery. Even I knew the answer before I even started writing the book. Does that answer your question, Daniella?

DANIELLA: Yes, it does. Thank you.


CYRUS: So my question is, well what's the idea for their pet dog?

AMY HEST: I'm a big dog lover. I mean, I'm like a dog crazy person, okay. And I just like to put dogs in my book. I just think they add a lot of charm and color and they bring out a lot of what I love. When I write a book, I always put the things that mean something to me in the book. Dogs mean a lot to me, babies mean a lot to me, ice cream means a lot to me, walks on the beach mean a lot to me, romance means a lot to me and I kind of stuck all of those things. I put everything I could think of in this book. A lot of me is in this book and dogs are certainly a part of my life and naughty dogs, especially. It seems to be my specialty. I am, I'm getting a dog I think this summer, I'm on a puppy list. And I hope to be able to train this dog better than other dogs that I've had in my life. I love them, but they're usually quite naughty. So that's that's a good question. I like that question about dogs, [inaudible 00:03:59]

AVERY: How did you get the idea to put the book in different points of character's view?

AMY HEST: Oh, wow! That is a [inaudible 00:04:07] question that's like it's, they're all good questions, but I really like that one because that was something that I decided so early when I started. You know, it took me about 10 or 12 years to write this book, by the way. So it took a long time to get all those different points of view right. I knew somehow, right from the start though, that this was a story that had to be told from different points of view. I thought it would be more exciting, first of all. And I, I liked bringing in the different characters with your different voices and going back and forth from one voice to the other. That was a lot of fun for me to do. And also when I'm writing, like I, I take on the voices of the different characters.

AMY HEST: So I'm not just sitting here at my computer quietly, writing a book. Maybe that's what you pictured writers doing. There's actually a big commotion here in my bedroom where my desk is. When I'm working on a book like the Summer We Found the Baby cause I'm reading out loud as I go. And I read with great drama and great expression in my voice because I need to hear how each person sounds. So like when I, when Martha was saying something, I would always make, read it out loud, read what I wrote out loud to make sure it sounded like someone who was six, like someone who was a little bit breathless and someone who's a little bit excited to tell you her, her point of view, she doesn't have attitude yet, the way her sister Julie has kind of an attitude because she's getting to be older and more sophisticated and she's kind of bossy. So when I read it out loud to myself, as I'm writing, I get into the voices, the different voices and that's that kept me going for 10 or 12 years when I was writing this book. And I would, I would flip from one voice to the other. So I was never, ever bored writing because I was changing voices all the time. Does that answer the question? Does that work for you by the way, the three different voices? And then another question?

ADALINE: My question is what inspired you to write the book?

AMY HEST: Ah! Well, what inspired me to write the book? That's a really good question also. Is my great love for that whole period of time, which is World War II. And I wondered what it would be like to be here on the home front when someone you love is a soldier fighting a war and Bruno's brother was off fighting that war. And I got the idea because my mom used to talk about what it was like to be missing my dad, when he was a soldier during World War II, he never talked about being a soldier, but, and he never really talked about the war, but my mom used to tell me about what it was like to be here in New York when he was like halfway around the world in a war. And, and that kind of inspired me, I think a lot about my parents and what they went through in their lifetime.

AMY HEST: And I, I like to address that, in some of my stories, like the ones I've written, other books about that era, World War II. I feel very comfortable there writing about that. I feel more comfortable writing about that period of time than I would writing, like contemporary story, something that takes place now I did most of my, my longer books take place way back when I was a little girl, because I can relate to the characters more somehow. They're not hip, they're not cool, the way you guys are. I, you know, my characters, they're never hip, cool characters because I'm not hip or cool, or, you know, and I never was. So I have to write about people that I know and understand. Like I write about me, and I know and understand me and I know that I'm not cool, so my characters are usually not that way. They're, they're more like me.

GABE: Hi, my name is Gabe. And my question is, if you weren't an author, what would you be?

AMY HEST: If I were not an author? I can't imagine not being an author. I've been doing this for so long, and I love my job. I just love my job. I wanted to be an author when I was in second grade. That's when I made up my mind, I was going to be an author, but if I were not an author, I would go to medical school and be a doctor if I could do it, if I could figure out math, I'm not very good at math. And I know you have to, you know, know a lot of math to pass the tests, to get to medical school. So if I could learn my math, I would be a doctor. And I don't know what kind of doctor, but maybe a pediatrician, because I happen to like kids a lot.

AMY HEST: So that would be something I could, I could see myself doing and feeling good about myself doing that. I remember my summers cause I spent my life in the library when I was a child. My mother was a great influence on me, she read more books than anybody I ever met. And, and she was only always in the library and I was always in the library. I didn't own books when I was a little girl. I mean, there was just no money to buy books. And besides there was this wonderful library in the little town that I grew up in. And so I was always there. And then when I was 16, the minute I could get a job, my first job was in the library. And I stayed there all through college, all through graduate school, I kept my job. I was a Page, I was a great Page in the library. I was excellent at putting books away and loved putting books away for some reason.

AMY HEST: I just loved my job there. I'm a big fan of libraries, as you can tell. Also, when you read The Summer We Found the Baby because that's like another character in my book, the library. It was very important for me to have a library in that story. So there's really a tremendous amount of me and the things I love in that story.

CYRUS: Hi, my name is Cyrus. And why did you do want to write this type of book?

AMY HEST: Why did I want to write this type of book? Well, I write picture books and I write chapter books. I write whatever I'm in the mood to write. Sometimes I'm in a mood for a picture book, and sometimes I'm in the mood for a chapter book. And this book was a really long project, but I love the subject, and I love those three kids. I have to tell you that I just, sometimes when you're writing a book and I've written quite a few books, but sometimes you just simply fall in love with the kids you're writing about. I just love those kids and I'm cheering them on and rooting for them and hoping everything is going to be okay for them and exploring like what hurts them also. That's very important to me in my stories because a lot of grownups tend to think that kids don't have problems like, oh, you're kid your problems aren't serious.

AMY HEST: I'm not one of those grownups. I understand that kids have real problems too, even if they don't want to talk about them. And one of the things about writing this book was that I got to explore a lot of the things that were hurting Julie and Martha and Bruno, different things. And I got to have them talk about, they told you, they were able to tell you in some ways, what was hurting them. Like Martha wanted a mom, she was really looking for a mom and I didn't want it to be sad. I didn't want you to be crying every minute because Martha didn't have a mom. So I had to balance that those things like making her a regular kid, but there's this longing in her heart for a mom. And Bruno has this longing in his heart for his brother to come home safely.

AMY HEST: And I could feel that, when I was writing the story, I could feel their, the things that hurt them and I wanted to be able to help them get it out and talk about it. So that was kind of a big piece of telling this story. And of course, the joy at the end of their reunited family and introducing the new baby at the family to the grandparents. I just get, every time I read that little section when Bruno says someone wants to meet you, at the very end of the book, he says to his, or he's thinking to his, there's someone here who wants to meet you. It just, it chokes me up even now, and I wrote the book. But it's still chokes me up because I can so picture that what that would be like, what that moment would be like for the whole family to realize there's, there's a new baby in the family. And they want so much for the baby's daddy to come home from the war safe and sound. So those were, those were all important things for me in my life, and I like to put things that are important to me in my life, in my books. I don't write, I don't like to write silly, silly stuff. I'm not like a silly, you'll never like be laughing hysterically when you read my books. I hope you're not crying too much when you read my books, but I'm not like, I don't write about silly stuff. I guess I'm not a silly person, I don't know. I write about things that are, more lifelike, I guess for me. So does that answer your question, Cyrus?

CYRUS: Yes. Thank you.

AMY HEST: You are so welcome. Do you have another question? Let's see my question, like what kind of ice cream I like? Coffee ice cream!

LAUREN: Thank you Amy for your wonderful answers.

AMY HEST: Great. You can invite me back any old time. I'd love to come back because this is wonderful. It's just wonderful. It's like I said, if you could see me, you would see me smiling right now.

LAUREN: Oh, thank you, Amy, for sharing your time and talent with us. I just want to ask you, do you think you're planning on writing another chapter book?

AMY HEST: Oh sure, I'm always writing, that's what I do. So I, yes, I'm always writing and I'm working on a longer book now, but I can't even tell you what it's about cause I don't know yet. It takes me a long time to figure it out. And I also have some new picture books coming out in the next year or two, but yes, I'm always writing stories. That's what I do since I'm not a doctor, right. I didn't go to medical school. So, and I love my job. It's like the greatest job in the world. So yes, I am writing another book, but it'll be a long time. You'll probably be 15 by the time it's published. Thank you so much.

CYRUS: I just wanted to say that I really liked your book and it was fun learning that they were actually in World War II, because at the beginning I thought it was just like in the present day. But then when they said like Roosevelt, I was like, what? This is now World War II.

AMY HEST: That's Great. Well, thank you so much for saying that Cyrus, that means a lot. It really means a lot. Cause when I'm writing, I'm not really thinking about anybody actually reading the book. It never occurs to me when I'm writing a book that somebody might read it. And, and now when I hear that you've actually read the book it's so, I mean, it makes me feel so good. So thank you all so so much!

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