Kathleen Burkinshaw is not only a dear friend of mine, but no stranger to this blog. I've shared her story of writing and publishing her debut middle grade historical novel in three different blogs: I interviewed her about how the book was built on her mother's experience in Hiroshima, reviewed the book, and then checked in with her post-publication. It's only fitting that she asked me to share her news about the audiobook that was just released!
In this post you'll to hear from Kathleen and Yuuki Luna, the narrator. PLUS, if you click here, and then click on Sample, you can hear Yukki read the book.
An Interview with Kathleen Burkinshaw
Kathleen: THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM is about a young girl's life in Hiroshima during WWII. She discovers a shocking family secret right before her world is about to become a shadow of what it had been. THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM (TLCB) is based on my mother's experience surviving the atomic bomb. It is through her 12-year-old eyes that readers witness that horrific day.
The novel is written with information on the culture, mindset, and daily life during WWII before the bomb was dropped-something that hasn’t been done before. My hope is not only to convey the message that nuclear weapons should never be used again; but to also reveal that the children in Japan had the same love for family, fear of what could happen to them, and hopes for peace as the Allied children had. The ones that we may think don't belong or are our "enemy" are not so different from ourselves.
Carol: What was involved in making TLCB into an audiobook?
Kathleen: The audiobook process for TLCB happened later than most books, since the hardcover of TLCB first published 5 years ago. In my contract with TLCB's publisher, Sky Pony Press, the unexercised audiobook rights reverted back to me after a few years. So, once they were mine, my agent Anna Olswanger, Olswanger Literary, began submitting to audiobook publishers in January 2021. I received an offer from Dreamscape in April! Naturally I was ecstatic!! 😁
I hoped that they would choose a Japanese or Japanese American voiceover artist and was overjoyed when Yuuki Luna reached out to me on Instagram after recording TLCB. Once she told me of her connection with Hiroshima, that her grandfather was a Hibakusha (atomic bomb survivor) from Hiroshima, I knew that it was meant to be.
We did not have an opportunity to be in touch while she was recording TLCB with Dreamscape. However, after that was finished we had an opportunity to meet each other on Zoom (she lives in California). Not only that, but that day I had the honor to meet her mother, a second generation Hibakusha like myself, and I introduced them to my daughter, Sara, a 3rd generation HIbakusha like Yuuki. I could feel my mom with us.
Yuuki's lovely voice and grace added so much to my written words about my mother's story. When I first heard her narration, I cried. It touched me so much to hear a young voice for my mother's character in Yuriko. I also cried because I thought an audiobook would not happen. Although, I must confess that I haven't listened to the chapters about the day of the bombing or after that. I know it will be extremely emotional for me because I already hear my mother's voice and her cries when I read the words. And I know it was emotional for Yuuki to read as well because of her compassion and connection to the story.
I'm so grateful that The Last Cherry Blossom is now accessible to more readers and I'm thrilled to say that in addition to being available through Audible, Libro.FM, and anywhere audiobooks are sold, it is also on Hoopla Digital.
Interview with Yuuki Luna