Writer Anna Byrne’s story ,Seven Year Summer, has been produced in narrated form
A qathet region author’s book on healing and hope amid the struggle to survive is being released as an audiobook.
Anna Byrne wrote Seven Year Summerwhich she terms is part memoir, medical guide and spiritual text, and which was a finalist for the 2020 Whistler Independent Book Awards, will now be available for those who enjoy having the book read to them.
Byrne said last spring, she was contacted by a reader through her website who had heard Byrne speak about the book on an end-of-life podcast.
“She had people in her life who had cancer and was really touched by the book,” said Byrne. “We just began emailing. I found out that it was Jacqueline Kim, and her background is in film as an actor, writer and producer. She has also narrated Ann Cameron’s book hummingbirdand has moved into visual art and sound as well.”
Byrne said the two of them started talking and the audiobook grew out of their conversations. She said the connection was totally unexpected.
“I’m still in a bit of awe that this connection has come about,” said Byrne. “Here I am in Powell River and she’s in Los Angeles and somehow, we met each other and created this project together.”
The audiobook came out of Kim’s experiences and background as an actor, but also through her expertise in sound.
“We probably talked for a month before we seriously decided to go ahead and start producing it,” said Byrne. “It was a long process. The book was recorded in LA. She would go in and record it, then, there’s editing that happens, and the final mastering. It took us about six months from the time we started to get the project to completion.”
Kim is the narrator of Seven Year Summer and has also written a sound score for certain parts of the book that are particularly poignant, said Byrne.
“It’s her background, weaving these elements together,” she added.
Byrne said her part in the project, after the recordings were completed, she was having the audio come to her. She would listen for any word that was pronounced a little differently or didn’t completely align with the book.
“I would give ongoing feedback to Jacqueline and she would incorporate that, and then we decided on parts that she would re-record,” added Byrne. “It was a fascinating process to watch her, and the amount of time and hours it takes to actually record something of that length.
“The audiobook is about six and a half hours, and the way Jacqueline speaks, she’s a beautiful spoken artist. She speaks with such precision, nuance and understanding. I’m sure she’s read the book at least two or three times. She she’s a very skilled person.”
Byrne said people have asked her if she would ever have considered recording it herself.
“After watching Jacqueline go through the process, even though it’s my story, I don’t think I could have pulled off the quality, because of her training, and also her sensitivity and personal connection to the subject matter.”
Pleased with production
Byrne said she is so pleased with the production of the audiobook.
“I’m sort of in awe and so grateful,” said Byrne. “I went through seven years of cancer in my 30s and at one point was given two years to live. So, to find myself in this position, having told my story, and having people connect to the story in this way, is just a dream come true.”
Byrne said the audiobook will be released on all of the main listening platforms including Audible, iTunes and Google Play. She said locally, people can contact Powell River Public Library and request that the audiobook be purchased and made available. The library will pay a flat fee and listeners in the region can access the audiobook as part of their library membership, according to Byrne.
“The library has been so supportive,” said Byrne. “I actually did a book release there when my book was first out and they have several copies of the book in the library. They’ve been amazing. They are so supportive of local artists.”
Byrne said she is continuing to write; she has two other books on the go. One is a series of fictional short stories and the second one is going to be an account of her friend Ella Mary Morgan, a Powell River resident who died last year having an assisted death.
Byrne is also going to continue with end-of-life care. She currently serves as vice-president on Powell River Hospice Society’s board of directors.
For more information on Byrne, her website is annambyrne.com.