Host Becky Parker Geist – also the narrator of Bartlett’s audiobook – interviews author Wendy Bartlett. Wendy’s book, The Flood: the Dangerous Exploits of Three Girls, a Cat and a Boat (The Elizabeth Books Series, Book 4), is geared for kids ages 8-12. Hear about what the audiobook production experience was like for this author as her book was brought to life in audio.
I’m happy to be here.
So could you tell us just a little bit about the flood and what inspired you to write it in the first place?
Sure, there was a big earthquake in 1989 in the Bay Area, and I lived here at the time and I thought to myself, wow, what is a bridge goes down. What does it mean? Do they’re left alone? What did they have to kind of make up the story and what they should do, you know? So I took that idea and I changed it to a flood which is very topical right now. And I may I made a flood somewhere in Sacramento River area, and where the three girls and a cat had to find their way in a boat to try and find their parents when they didn’t come home from a meeting they had said they would only be an hour at. Meanwhile, of course, a whole place flooded and they had to figure it out. Mostly the 11 year old girl had to figure it out, which she resented. But she did it and she did a good job.
Who’s this book targeted for?
This is targeted for kids anywhere from seven to 12. I would think that the heroine is 11. And then her, her little sister is four. The friend they pick up on the way is seven, so that we have kind of a big age range there. But, but it’s an 11 year old would happily read it.
Yeah, I agree with that. And do you have a background in teaching or?
Yes, yes, I taught for many years different ages. I taught for five years at UC childcare. And I taught second grade in England for a couple of years. And I taught Junior High School in art history. So and I certainly subbed in Oakland many years,
So you know kids pretty well sounds like.
I do and I have a daughter as well. And I thought of her a lot when I was writing this.
Yeah, the main character really is a very brave little girl, as it turns out.
Yeah, she has to be brave. She feels she should have some grown up telling her what to do. But all she has is the memory of what grown ups told her, so so she has to put that in practice.
Yeah, I think that’s it. One of the interesting things about bravery is that we’re only really brave when we’re doing things that were kind of scared of doing.
Exactly right. She was scared, but she did a great job. There’s a lot about the relationship of the kids as well, particularly her with her little sister, that interaction, you know, where she kind of has to take on the parental role and, you know, very cute.
Yeah, well, I think it’s, in addition to being cute it’s an adventure that it really does point out some of those great characteristics that when we exhibit them as people when we feel really proud of ourselves. And I think especially kids when they are put in a crisis situation, but have parents and or adults in their lives that they can emulate in those moments. That, you know, it’s a moment of growth and a moment of, you know, of standing up in a new way in the world.
Yeah, a certain pride of having come through it, like winning a race, you know that it’s going to be a tie. It’s going to be a tie. It’s going to be a tie and you win. Yes. Because you had to put all that effort into it. It is definitely an adventure. I mean, you know, they stay two nights, in different houses. It’s three days of rowing, they’re trying to make a sail, the cat falls in, you know, they fall in and the cat falls in and everything. And one of one of the big adventures was when they look out the window, and they see that the boat which is saving them has drifted away into the reeds somewhere. And the heroine has to jump in and swim to the boat. It’s very exciting, you can’t really do it. And I don’t think I should say anymore how they managed.
It’s very exciting, it really is. It’s a lot of great adventures that they have in the course of a couple days. And I love the way that you speak from the child’s perspective so well. I’ve also been a lot of time, my life as a teacher and parent, and it just felt very true to me.
Well, you certainly did a great job.
One of the things I wanted to mention is that, that I, I have sailing experience and I did own a sailboat for quite a number of years. And so I went sailing in the South Pacific and I really learned how to sail. So I put my knowledge into all the parts about the boat. So I really knew what I was talking about
It rang true. What would you say is your biggest goal with your book and your audio book?
Well, I listened to thriller writer Joanna pen and she is really into audio books and she listens to audiobooks herself. And she is actually going to start speaking them herself or whatever you call it. She’s gonna do her own. Well, I tried to do my own for about 35 pages on another book. And it was it was such a lot of work. I thought that when you came along, and there was only a few hundred dollars difference, I thought you do it! Totally. Totally worth it. And you did a great job, so I was thrilled. Thank you. We’ll go there. And my goal Well, I I don’t know. I mean, it’s I do feel like it’s something a kids can read online. They can buy a Kindle or whatever, you know, anywhere. They want to buy it online. And then, like in a foreign country stage, Japan where one of the little kids is Japanese, they can follow along and they can listen to the book while they’re reading it. So it’s kind of almost teaching them how to read or say they’re seven years old, and they’re trying to read the book. They can have the audio book along with it. So there’s lots of ways to use the audio book. Apart from just sitting in the car for a long trip, you know, and getting to listen to something. Whereas if you were trying to read you might feel car sick.
Here, the educator in you that is speaking. And I would say if you have one piece of advice for authors in a similar situation to your own as you got started in this process and the audiobook process, what would that be?
Well, I would say find a good narrator which I will certainly managed to find one and I’m kind of lucky about that. Because I think I’m a great narrator. So somebody had to be better than me. And, and that’s what’s important. You know, if you think you’re really good, you want to get somebody who’s even better. And then you’ll be just so pleased with the result. So, I love the way you narrated the little girls voice and you were very consistent all the way through, you know, each child had their own voice, and it was I really believed in them. And I stepped away from being the writer in and I just started listening like it was somebody else’s book and I just got completely absorbed in to the way you had narrated. It was really wonderful.
Let’s listen to a sample of the flood the dangerous exploits of three girls, a cat and a boat, which is book four in the Elizabeth books written and illustrated by Wendy Barnes. With narrated by Becky Parker and produced by Pro Audio voices. This book is now available as an audio book in print. And as an ebook
[Sample of the audiobook]
Wendy, thanks again for joining us.
It was my pleasure for sure.
In this episode we discuss about:
- The audiobook production process for Wendy’s first time having one of her books converted to audio
- The adventures of the girls in this story
- Wendy’s background as an educator and why she developed the characters and story as she did
- Favorite moments in the audiobook
- The importance of strong female characters in children’s books
And you can hear a clip from the finished audiobook that is now available on most audiobook retail and library channels.
For more about the author, visit https://wendybartlett.com