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Episode 46

In this episode we have a spectacular interview with the author of over 200 books Hazel Edwards who is joined with equally spectacular audio book producer and author Sarah Bacaller. Add in audio book reviews, chats about mosquito bites on the tips of your toes, industry news including information about the upcoming Writer's Week in Adelaide, and the amazing psychological benefits of snuggling up with a good book! Oh, and a mission to deep dive into choose your own adventures...


What inspired you to write this book? And adapt to audio?

Many writers are time-poor. They want to learn strategies to write better, and reading candid memoirs of practising authors helps. Being able to listen on audio while exercising or multi-tasking domestic stuff, is more manageable.

What is the Memoir about?

'Not Just a Piece of Cake’ takes the reader behind the books.

Collaborating with illustrators, performers, co-authors and even family.  Heart tugging fan mail. Literary speed- dating with characters from a different perspective. Dealing with the Plateau of Boredom and the Map of Serendipity. But also sharing 'the process of the process of writing' and why storytelling matters culturally, and personally. And why a 6 year old knew she wanted to be an author.

Hazel Edwards has a cake-eating hippo on her roof , an OAM for Literature and thousands of book-children,as well as a real family, Then there are Hazelnuts she has mentored and a readership in thirteen languages.

Using ‘anecdultery’ which is Hazel’s term for story-telling, she explains where her ideas came from and why writing, longterm, is mentally risky but vital culturally and contributes to a non-boring life. The hippocampus is where memories are kept, even those of Antarctica, where Hazel was an expeditioner. Now Hazel’s hippocampus is overflowing. Her stories have given adult fans and child readers diverse insights into other worlds, both fact and fiction. She is now sharing the creative process of her quest and the quandary of how much to reveal.

(OAM is not for Hippo as an Outsized, Awesome Myth)

In what ways would this book be useful?

The reality of being an author, when you also have a family.

Strategies for those contemplating writing as a life/workstyle.  Impact of creating stories which skill the reader to 'be' someone different.  Mysteries. Non- fiction. Crime.

The busy-ness of long term creativity including poignant fan mail, ideas, collaboration , author touring and  multi-media.

Slices of an adventurous life behind & beyond  the beloved hippo eating cake on the roof. Why being an Antarctic expeditioner or trekking in Nepal is research. Literary speed dating with  Hippo answers to common questions asked of the character.

Diverse workstyle of the mind behind the fantasy of writing children's books, longterm.

What’s the best response you’ve ever had to your writing?

Fan mail was the reason I included the chapter in the memoir on readers responses.

How much research is involved in your writing?

A lot.  For the adult fiction and non fiction I’ve researched /participated on an Antarctic expedition, interviewed over 25 celebrants for Celebrant Sleuth: I Do or Die’, and travelled on The Ghan outback.

But for many of the children’s stories, I eavesdrop. An unusual viewpoint, phrase or funny situation is the basis of most picture books.

Collaborating with someone from THAT culture or with that skill  is another way of researching .

Why adapt a print story into e-book and audio?

To reach a wider readership and enable switching between mediums.

Because each of the chapters is self contained, it appeals to those with limited time to listen/read in segments in their favoured medium.

Audio is valuable for those wishing to improve their literacy, or for whom English is a second language.

Those with eye issues can change the size of the font for e-books.

I chose Voices of Today rather than narrate myself because I’m not a professional actor. I’ve audio recorded ‘Celebrant Sleuth’ in a studio for Audible’ but it takes me twice as long.  I have recorded my short picture books successfully but they were done in one session in a studio.

I also appreciate how Voices of Today offered audition tapes and also handle the administration of uploading to the various online portals.

I also liked the suggestion of including a clip from Garry Ginivan’s ‘Hippo Hippo’ the musical as an introduction. That was one of the most creatively satisfying productions in which I have been involved across all my books.

Some questions for Sarah:

What did you enjoy about working on Hazel’s audiobook memoir?

As a writer myself, and one with a young family, I became thoroughly absorbed in Hazel’s recounted adventures. There were many intelligent observations, tips and tricks for making the most of time, ideas and experiences. Hazel’s quick wit often had me laughing out loud, and her candid reflections on some of the more complex aspects of life resonated and encouraged me. It was a great book to produce – and a total privilege to encounter the author who wrote those Hippo books (that were read to me as a child, and that my Mum now reads my own kids!)

What is the value in producing a book like this in audio form?

In a way, it gives it a new type of life. Erin is giving voice to Hazel’s words – so there is a degree to which an author relinquishes creative control and leaves it in the hands of the narrator – and that is a type of generosity that opens a text to new readers (or listeners). I am a total audiobook addict – while also being addicted to print books, writing and ideas in various forms – so I can sing the praises of audiobooks all day. But in this case, it has relaunched a title published some years ago, and has increased its visibility and accessibility to people who, for a whole lot of reasons, either need or want to listen with their ears, rather than read with their eyes.

What are the relational dynamics between audiobook producer, narrator and author?

It depends who you talk to and who they work for! Voices of Today is a small, independent producer. I like authors to be able to choose their narrator, and to introduce them to each other. That can be a really productive relationship. All the authors I’ve worked with so far have been wonderful in giving space to the narrator to ‘do their thing’. As the co-ordinator of that relationship, I’m very conscious of both respecting one another’s boundaries and work. So far, that’s gone really well! As producer, I was checking in with both Erin and Hazel, sending project updates. I also did the project proof listening and editing, so it was a very hands on process – partly because we are a small company! But it was a real delight and I’m proud of having been part of it.

Sarah lives and works on Bunurong/Boon Wurrung land.

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Click below to learn more about this author's spectacular literary work!

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