An interview with Val Dumond
Q. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
A. I knew I was a writer when my insides tickled with glee whenever I found a pencil and a blank piece of paper. In the second grade, I put booklets together. By fourth grade I began to keep diaries — a habit that continues today with dream journals and scraps of paper filled with notes and cluttering my life.
Q. When did you make writing a career?
A. The first aroma of printer’s ink (when I delivered our high school newspaper to the print shop) filled my soul and directed me to apply for a job as “Women’s Page Editor” at the city newspaper a few years later. The ink spread to two other newspaper chains, where I filled editors’ chairs and had a heckuva lot of fun.
Q. You were married. How did you meet your husband?
A. He walked into my office one day; we went out for coffee, and were together for the next 20 years. He whisked me off to Florida where our son and daughter were born and raised.
Q. Did you work outside your home during those years?
A. Only with volunteer jobs, but I still wrote articles and hounded publishers.
Q. You haven’t mentioned your education. How do you train for writing jobs?
A. Writers keep their eyes open. Yes, a college education helps, but mine wasn’t necessarily aimed at professional writing. When you’re in college you learn lots of fascinating things (among them, keeping your eyes and mind open). Writers never know when they’ll need some tidbit they came across in the process of living. I guess you’d say, writers are fonts of trivia. I took Liberal Arts courses for a couple years after high school and was bored. At the age of 42, I returned to college and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. I later added credits in Education and still later attended Law School.
Q. So how did you escape the confinement of offices to pursue your writing?
A. I was directing an advertising agency for a major savings and loan when the market tipped upside down. I struck out on my own and offered writing classes to area colleges and writing training to businesses. That evolved into increased writing time and diminishing teaching time. Writing is the easy part; promoting your books takes time too.
Q. How did your first published book come about?
A. In the midst of teaching writing, I quickly picked up the confusion of most writers about the “rules” of grammar. I set out to write them all down, once and for all. The result was my first book, Grammar For Grownups. I secured an agent through a summer writing conference, and the book publishing fever began.
Q. You became rather well known for your work with inclusive language. How did that start?
A. In the 1980s, concern surfaced about the male dominant sexism of U.S. language. I thoroughly researched the market for books on the subject, and found none. So I wrote a little booklet titled SHEIT. My agent sold it as Elements of Nonsexist Usage and the fun began. That book found its way into most high school and college libraries, even into libraries outside the U.S. I began to receive requests for help in making language — particularly in business — less sexist.
Q. You later wrote about other ways to be inclusive through words. Tell about that.
A. Surprisingly, judges, lawyers, and businesses eagerly asked my help to remove sexism from their writing. I covered other “non-” words: non-racist, non-ageist, and non-classist in my book, Just Words, with its extensive glossary of alternative terms.
Q. What other books have you written?
A. The list got longer during 2012 when I undertook my “Twelve In 12” project — to publish a book a month throughout the year. I made it — adding a couple of novels, a collection of my short stories, and placing all my manuscripts on Kindle. No, I didn’t write a new book each month; some of the manuscripts had been prepared years earlier and stored in the back of my computer.
Q. What is your favorite kind of writing?
A. Easy! I love writing historical fiction; or is it fictional history? In 2014 I wrote Pandora’s Hunnert Januarys, the history of women in the 20th century, as seen through the eyes of a woman who lived the entire 100 years. The fictional story is supported with achievements of real women of that century.
Q. Where can I find out about your books?
A. Turn to the BOOKS page on this website. My books are all available on Amazon, where you can read more on my Author’s Page and record a review of my book after you’ve read it.
Q. What other things grab your interest?
A. My favorite activity is helping a new writer publish a first book. I also garden (herbs and tomatos and raspberries), play sudoku and word puzzle games, and write plays. Playwriting is good exercise for any kind of writer. But my very favorite time is spent recording the lives of my characters in my latest novel (and yes, I’m working on another one).
Q. Does that mean you’ll continue to write and publish books.
A. You betcha!