In Talks with Dave Brummet & Lillian Brummet

Q: How many (books) bookshelves do you have in your home?

L: A walking tour through our home and studio reveals 3 wall units upstairs, 4 shelves in the studio and 1 shelf in the kitchen – all of them filled with books. I’d guess at perhaps 6-dozen novels, and probably 8-dozen reference books ranging from photography, music, computer programs, gardening, writing and health.

Q: Why did you feel this book needed to be written?

D: I think the times we are living in dictate a turn towards people growing more of their own food in their backyards. With this in mind and the fact that we have been doing exactly that for over 30 years we felt our collection of well-refined recipes could be very relevant and well received. We have had people showing keen interest ever since we started the project so many years ago. Another twist of the book is that it is not as meat-heavy as the average North American diet tends to be. As former vegetarians, we realized a compromise is all too possible. Like the Asian style of diet they have a small serving of protein with a lot of vegetables and rice or noodles. The typical North American plate has a big chunk of meat with a small portion of vegetables possibly. I always feel less energetic after a meal heavy in protein unless I have just been on a big hike or ride and have the need for that kind of portioning to replace what I burned off.

Q: What was your path to publication?

L: From One Small Garden started out as a collection of recipes we gathered from friends and family or created ourselves and over the years this developed into 2 binders filled with recipes. We decided to systematically go through them deciding on the best-of-the-best and organizing them for ourselves. It helped that at the time (1998), I had been in a car accident and was home to do this task. After we became writers and had been in the career for a few years, we decided that this collection needed to be published. That was some 18 years ago… and since then the manuscript has been worked on sporadically, set aside while we took on various life challenges, business and work projects, publishing 6 other books and renovated and landscaped 2 different homes we bought/sold. Finally in 2019, we again took up the task of completing the cookbook project, organizing for beta testers/readers, editing, book cover design, etc. and by early 2021 it was released.

Q: What are the biggest surprises you’ve encountered as a writer?

D: The surprise was that the work only increases after your book is published. As a self-promoting team we have to do everything we can to get the book to the attention of the audience we wish to target. Of course this was different decades ago when you might have a publishing company involved in this, but the world of books has changed. Unless you are a big name you are going to be on your own for the most of it and it can be intense. You need to have a well thought out plan and stick to it in order to get noticed. Flexibility is the key – always be ready to adapt to what ever comes your way. It will keep you pliable and ready for anything.

Q: What is your proudest writer moment?

L: Our Trash Talk series is probably the project that I find the most pride in. Through this series we have influenced people all over the world to live more proactively, consciously saving money and reducing consumption of resources, while helping their own communities. My proudest moment came when the Recycling Council of British Columbia presented us with an award for “outstanding use of various media in on-going outreach work to reduce waste in our environment” and then we were recognized as Community Heroes by the LiveSmart BC program. Mere words cannot describe how it feels to hear from our former radio listeners, and our readers over the years… their stories of how we influenced them to become proactive and make a difference.

Q: What business challenges have you faced as a writer?

D: The learning of new software and web design has been a big challenge in my end of things. There is always something to learn in the realm of graphic design but it is a challenge I love to take on as it only increases my knowledge and ability to do all of our own promotional projects for all aspects of our business. 

Q: What is your writer life philosophy?

L: Find a problem that affects people’s lives and the health of the planet, solve the problem and provide a step-by-step guide for others to follow. For me, the task of making that information palatable and enjoyable for the reader comes afterwards. Writing is a way for me to leave a positive legacy, to make a difference for others and to have a lasting impact on the environment.

Q: What is the wisest thing anyone has said to you?

D: My African friend and drum mentor David Thiaw once said to me: “Share the information I have given you with others to perpetuate the craft of drumming. Don’t keep it to your chest like a thing to be hoarded, but give it willingly and share it with anyone that will listen”. I take this approach with everything I write or teach my students. I founded my drum studio on the premise that absolutely everyone goes away with some tidbit of drum, percussion or music knowledge that was not known to them previously. 

Q: When starting a book project do you choose the title first, or does that come later?

D: Sometimes the title might be preconceived but usually by the time the manuscript is finished the title has gone through a few changes. It really depends on the market you are aiming to sell to and also what is relevant to the times. Often by the time you finish your book maybe someone else has used a title similar to yours so you might change it based on that.

Q: What impact do you hope this book will have on the reader?

L: I hope that people are able to reduce food waste and enjoy a more frugal menu plan that is filled with fresh, locally grown produce. From One Small Garden encourages the concept of growing food, even if it is just a few pots on the front step or a vine trellis with beans or cucumbers growing up it, blocking the sun on the deck. It encourages composting, and gives some tips for energy and water conservation. I hope that people are healthier and have found ways of extending their budget based on ideas we share in the book.

Q: How many books or short stories have you written?

L: I’ve only written a couple non-fiction short stories, numerous non-fiction articles, both product and book reviews, and a total of 7 published books, if you count an e-book (Jump Start For Writers) that no longer exists. Currently we have a 2-book series on green living (Trash Talk), 2 books of poetry (Towards Understanding; Rhythm & Rhyme) and there’s marketing advice for writers (Purple Snowflake Marketing). Our most recent release is a cookbook: From One Small Garden that, as you might derive from the name, focuses on recipes that help people take advantage of garden harvests and reduce food waste.

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

D: I do most of my learning online, for instance when it comes to understanding a new program for vector graphics I will comb YouTube for tutorial videos. Somewhere online there is a video explaining everything you need – and more usually. I would never have attempted repairs to household appliances or automobiles if I didn’t have access to tutorial videos. Learning how to do things yourself can save you a bunch of money as an entrepreneur too. However it also means that you have to be able to learn, have the patience and then actually apply that new skill. Not as easy as it sounds, believe me.

Q: What do you do when you are not writing?

D: I play drums in a rock band when ever possible. I also teach both drum kit and hand drum lessons. I have an active repair shop in which I build, fix and tune djembe drums (among others) and manufacture a few percussion accessories as well. I enjoy doing the graphic design work for all our marketing and that is a never-ending learning journey in itself, but certainly an enjoyable one.

Q: Who, or what, inspired you to pursue a career in writing?

L: The first writer I ever knew was my mother, who dabbled at the craft for a short time. Later, teachers would comment about my writing, truly moved by what I wrote. These were the earliest influences, slowly pointing me in this direction. Some of my poetry was published, then I won some writing awards… later I took some career evaluation tests and writing kept coming up as a career option. Dave’s emotional support and strategic skills have been of great value; having that strength, someone to mull over challenges with, split the work with, and just share the experience in general.

Q: What have you learned about while working with your spouse?

D: We do some of our best creative work when we are just discussing stuff together over a cup of coffee during a break. And, we always have a note pad to jot down the ideas that come bursting out because, sure enough, the best ideas are the ones that slip your memory if you don’t.

Q: Describe a typical writing day.

L: There is no real typical day for us; 2-3 days per month are dedicated to managing the blogs, about 16 hours are spent networking, advertising, sending out queries to media and following up on marketing opportunities every week, a few hours per week are spent managing social media. Any one day can also involve cleaning the office, workshop, studio… assisting Dave where I can. However, I’ll share an example of a ‘behind the scenes’ look at one day: upon waking, we have breakfast and coffee and deal with the fur kids, get some house duties done, check emails/messenger/text messages for any important communications, and after a brief discussion about what each other’s goals are for that day, split off in our different directions. I’m in the office responding to interview questions while Dave is in his office working on images and ad creations for our cookbook (From One Small Garden). After this interview, I plan to complete a few touchups to some articles we wrote last week. We always take a break to make lunch and clean up after. Depending on what Dave might need from me, I may take on the task of going through the emails etc. one more time, responding and dealing with what I can… or I might start some seeds for the garden and do some laundry. Perhaps I’ll be dealing with garden harvests or taking an online course during the afternoon hours.

Q: How do you manage social media, what social media have you used, which do you like to use the most and why?

D: I personally use Facebook for networking with specific groups and for general announcements, YouTube for posting video content and blogging for building a presence and sharing information with followers. Lillian is the one that handles the blogs and a majority of the social media and I am happy for that as she is very good at it and knows the ins and outs. She has a lot of relevant connections already from over 20 years experience of promoting our business and books.

Q: How do you go about choosing a book title?

D: For me the title almost always comes near or at the end of the writing process. If ever I have had an idea of the title first it was usually changed by the time the book was done. A title for me has to explain the book’s purpose or intent in some way. I like it to be catchy and not too wordy. Like a good melody that you can easily whistle, a good title should be memorable, appropriate and roll off the tongue easily.

Q: What is your contribution to society?

D: As a drum teacher I hope to help the next generation of drummers by passing on the knowledge of drums and percussion I have accumulated in my career. I run a program called Drum it Forward that I was inspired to create years ago. I go to the schools and offer my services as a drum doctor armed with all the spare parts I have amassed along the way and fix their gear. The schools don’t have the budget to pay for this and the poor teachers don’t necessarily have the time or knowledge, so I do it as a donation. All I ask is that if they have any spare parts or pieces laying around that they consider donating it to the cause to perpetuate the program.

Q: Tell us the process of creating the cover for your book.

D: From One Small Garden’s cover was a process that evolved over the years. By the time the final title was decided on the concept of what we wanted to portray was clear – How to cook with fresh produce. If you look at the front cover closely, in the background is an image of our actual garden ghosted out with dishes of prepared food in the foreground – from the garden to plate in a sense. The back cover concept is similar but with images of our freshly harvested produce in place of the food dishes. All from one small garden – is what we have lived for the past 30+ years as a life style and a health choice and we know it saves a bunch of money while having you eat like royalty. 

About the authors

Dave & Lillian Brummet

Lillian and her husband Dave Brummet are the team behind Brummet Media Group, high-fiving cheerfully as they pass each other on the way from checking off one item or other from their long to-do list. After moving to their dream location (in the Kootenay Region of BC, Canada), they have been methodically converting the abused lot over to the little park it has become – and in doing so have gained certification with bee, pollinator and wildlife organizations. Their home, too, has become energy efficient via the many upgrades they have done. Their business includes Dave’s music studio and percussion accessory products and graphic design work as well as numerous award-winning non-fiction books and popular blogs. Today we help them celebrate their latest book release – From One Small Garden, with over 300 delicious, nutritious recipes!

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