Monday, November 1, 2021

THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM--Big News from Kathleen Burkinshaw and an Audiobook Giveaway!

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.


 United Nations Office of Disarmament Education Resource for Teachers and Students
October 2018 BOOK RIOT list of "30 Fascinating Historical Fiction Books for Middle School Readers" 
Nominated 2019 NC School Library Media Assoc. YA Book Award
Finalist 2018 Sakura Medal, Japan
SCBWI Crystal Kite Award Finalist(southeast region)
Scholastic WNDB Reading Club Selection, 2018 & 2016

An Interview with Kathleen Burkinshaw

Carol: For my new followers who might not be familiar with your book, please summarize it for them.

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?

KathleenThe 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

CarolPlease tell me a little bit about yourself, how you got into creating audio books, etc. What is your background? 

Yuuki: I started out as a stage combat performer during my childhood, performing in local community shows and festivals. I then started performing with the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, and then started voiceover work, which led me into the audiobook world. 

Carol: What goes into preparation of recording a book like TLCB? How long did it take to record—was it over many sessions? 

Yuuki: In terms of preparation for audiobook reads, I've found it best to read the work at least once, maybe twice before I start recording, taking notes along the way. Recording The Last Cherry Blossom did take around a week, as I tried to fit in a few hours of recording each day. 

Carol: Were parts of the book difficult to narrate? What was that experience like for you?

YuukiThe book became difficult to narrate the more I got closer to the end; the emotions became so real that I needed to take a few breaks in between. Kathleen's story and words are also powerful and hit home in many ways, as I also have family from Hiroshima as well. Her novel is such a rare gem that paints the most genuine picture of how families in Hiroshima (including my own) lived during the war, and I feel honored to have been a part. 


Leave your name and email address (if you are new to my blog) in the comment to enter the giveaway. If you decide to follow my blog or share this on social media, I'll enter your name twice. Kathleen will arrange for the winner to receive a download code for the book.

REMEMBER: I cannot enter you unless I have your name and email address. If you're not sure, leave your email address in the comment. Giveaway ends at 6PM on Wednesday, November 3. 

Congratulations to Barbara Younger who won Headstrong Hallie from last week's blog. 



Theresa Milstein said...

I remember this book and interview back then. So happy to hear there's an audiobook version now!

Carol Baldwin said...

Glad you remember the blog posts, Theresa. Your name starts this list!

Lisa Kline said...

This book should become a classic. I read it several years ago and it has stayed with me. So glad that it has been made into an audiobook, available for even more people.
It was very moving to read about Yuuki's emotional response to reading for the audiobook.
-Lisa Williams Kline

Carol Baldwin said...

I agree, Lisa!

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Carol,
Thank you for sharing about the audio book for Kathleen’s The Last Cherry Blossom. It is so great that the publisher found someone so in tune with Kathleen’s Mother’s story.

Please add my name to the people hoping to win a copy.

Never Give Up

Rosi said...

What a fascinating post. Thanks for that. I will pass on the giveaway.

Esther M. Bandy said...

This sounds like an amazing book with a powerful message! Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Joan and Esther. I'll add your names!

Kathleen said...

Theresa, thank you very much. I'm so glad you remembered TLCB and that first interview on Carol's blog!

Kathleen said...

Lisa, thank you so very much for your kind words. It means so much to me especially since I consider you one of my mentors on my writing journey (right along with Joyce Moyer Hostetter).Thank you for your friendship and all your encouragement.

Kathleen said...

Joan, thank you so much for your friendship and support. And yes, it meant so much to me to have that connection and through that I had opportunity to meet Yuuki, who has so much talent, compassion, and grace- and now someone I can call a friend.

Kathleen said...

Esther,thank you so much for your kind words.

Kathleen said...

Thank you so very much for your friendship, kindness and support! I'm so happy that you are the first blog that Yuuki and I have had an opportunity to be interviewed together. So glad to do a giveaway of an audio download code for The Last Cherry Blossom!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Kathleen, for giving me the privilege!

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

Oh my! I am eager to hear this! Thank you so much, for the interview with Kathleen and Yuuki. And a big congratulations to both of you!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Joyce. You're in!

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Kathleen,
You are welcome. You are amazing. I am so glad that Yuuki did the recording for you! Enjoy your day!

Never Give Up

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Carol,
Thank you. I am honored to be in!

Never Give Up

Kathleen said...

Rosi, Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview.

Kathleen said...

Joyce, thank you so very much for your friendship and support. As I had mentioned before, you truly are a mentor to me. <3

Terri DeGezelle Michels said...

I am so thankful this story. Well done, thank you!

Carol Baldwin said...

thanks,Terri, for leaving a comment. I hope you read or listen to it--but this giveaway is over.

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