Interviewing The Treebobs author, Declan Harney
I’ve known author Declan Harney for over a year now, since I was lucky enough to be the chosen voice to narrate the audio versions of the wonderful Treebobs series of children’s books. Declan’s passion for writing is infectious, and I thought it would be a great idea to share his story with you…
Hi Declan! What inspired you to begin writing children’s stories?
“I have always loved writing, probably due to the fact I love reading children’s stories particularly anything magical or fantasy so my love of writing stemmed from this. One night when I was working very late in the office I just put one pen down and picked a writers pen up and went on from there.”
Is this something that you’ve always wanted to do?
“Absolutely since about the age of 8.”
Where did the idea for the Treebobs series come about?
“It actually came to me in a car park. I was stuck in a miserable job at the time and was in the car on my lunch hour making what was a futile call to an employment agency. While I was there the wind blew hundreds of seeds from a sycamore tree and I remember watching as they all whirled through the air and then the idea of the Treebobs just popped into my head. I was writing some traditional fairy tales at the time which included the characters of The Treebobs in a story. The story was rejected but the agent said she loved the idea of The Treebobs and it went on from there. The first story being The Treebobs and the Dizzy Broomsticks with the creation of Rotten Rena and Badlot Barbara the two witches.”
Each story has a moral to it that children can relate to. Can you briefly give us the morality themes of each one?
“Well there are all sorts of what I hope are positive messages in the books. In The Treebobs and the Dizzy Broomsticks there is an environmental theme when the two witches start cutting down the trees. The Runaway Cauldron shows how a common threat can bring everyone together to combat that. In The Treebobs Rescue Rotten Rena the message is about body shape and the dangers of fad diets while the Christmas story is of course all about the magic of Christmas”.
You’ve been having considerable success with the stories, and some great reviews. Can you tell us a bit more about what’s been happening?
“Yes the stories have got some lovely reviews and have been very well received in America where most of the reviews have come from. Hopefully they are soon to be broadcast on US radio as well which would be just wonderful. There is also now requests for paper back copies so the illustrations of the existing books are currently being developed as well as the creation of new stories in the same series”.
“It was fantastic receiving an invitation from a school where the Dizzy Broomsticks had been played to the children to arrive to hear children in the playground being Rotten Rena and the witches. Also on one of the reviews there is a picture of a little girl drawing pictures of the witches from what she had heard on the audio stories which is truly heartening.”
The Treebobs series is available in hard copy with beautiful illustrations, but also as a radio play style audio book, produced by Lee Pritchard, and narrated by yours truly! What prompted your decision to produce the book in audio format?
“I think the reviews say it all. A narrative breathes life into the story and giving it a sense of realism and literally opening up the imagination to the events that are happening. For me your ability to create the characterisations through the use of accent, tone and inflexion is part of that realism and with the sound effects makes an audio story so engaging for all listeners”
What kind of narrator were you looking for once you’d decided to produce the stories as audiobooks too?
“To be honest the production of an audio book was something I was curious about doing and it was hearing samples of voice overs that made my mind up. Once that was done I wanted a narrator that was clear with a good range and one who could do voices…and guess what I was lucky enough to find one!”
So, do you have any plans for any more children’s stories? If so, spill?!
“Yes indeed there are five more Treebob stories due for release this year the first two of these have just been completed. Also there is another series coming out for older children which are ghost stories as well as a spin off novelty book from The Treebobs.”
Thank you, Declan, I’ve had a ball narrating them! Currently there are 5 titles in the Treebobs series. The audio CD’s are yet to be pressed, but all of them are available to download now from Audible:
If you’d like to find out more about my audio book narrating services, get in touch!