Friday, August 26, 2022

Q&A with Michelle K. Dumont


Michelle K. Dumont is the author of the new children's picture book An Alphabet Tail. She also has written the picture book A Mardi Gras Tail. A licensed respiratory therapist and asthma educator, she lives in New Orleans. 


Q: An Alphabet Tail is your second book based on your bulldog, Phoebe--what inspired you to write the book, and how did you come up with the various types of dogs to include? 


A: I find inspiration everywhere. I take pictures (or screenshots) on my phone all the time. As of today, I have 21,712 photos! 


I thought an ABC book of dogs could be really fun and I could write it in a whimsical fashion. I especially love to rhyme. “I for Irish setter. Have you ever knitted a sweater with an Irish setter?” The thought of Phoebe sitting on a sofa with an Irish setter surrounded by balls of yarn really made me laugh. It's original. 


I also learned a few things along the way. Take for instance the xoloitzcuintli or xolo. I didn't know that there was a Mexican hairless dog!  


Q: What do you think Jennifer Zoe Taylor's illustrations add to the story? 


A: Jennifer and I met on a movie project. We clicked. We have similar thought processes. When she told me she was an architect, I asked if she would like to try her architecture skills on animation. She didn't think twice about drawing a basset hound on a merry-go-round.  


Q: What initially intrigued you about writing children's picture books?


A: I had been writing stories with older audiences in mind. One day during a writer's workshop, the instructor gave us a prompt and I wrote a story about my bulldog. That's when I first thought of writing for children.


Q: What do you hope kids take away from the book?


A: I think children should have fun reading and learning. Don't be afraid to be silly or stretch your imagination. Who says an ori pei can't wear a pink tutu and dance in the ballet.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I've written several more books in the Phoebe series but I've also been writing a book about a mouse with an "unusual" ability.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Hmm... There's always more stories to tell. I have 21,712 ideas floating around in my phone and my head.


I have a serious love for the New Yorker cartoons. Especially ones about dogs. :)  


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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