Gina Vivona Author
Growing up with Bugs Bunny-filled Saturday mornings, Gina developed a great appreciation for a witty, cunning character. Kazmir isn't as much of a "lil stinker" as Bugs, but he can carry his own weight in wit.
Kazmir, the story and audiobook, has been a family affair in the making. Husband, Michael Woodrum was the one who suggested to turn the story into the audio version. "I was so excited to hear my characters come alive when Bryan, Colleen, and Steve animated their parts," recalls Gina.
"It would have been impossible to finish my story before now. All these people and their talents needed to first come into my life. When they arrived, the road was easy and fun.
I hope you will enjoy the adventure with someone you love."
Bryan Cranston Narrator
Though many know him as “The One Who Knocks”, Bryan Cranston is also the one who narrates the adventures of Michael-Ann and Kazmir on their journey through the Five Skies. Over the years, Bryan Cranston has had a litany of career-defining performances, whether as the overwhelmed patriarch on “Malcolm in the Middle”, as the groundbreaking president LBJ in “All The Way” or as the aforementioned Walter White in “Breaking Bad”.
Bryan was initially drawn to the story of Kazmir by the positive messages that it conveyed. Using only his voice to pull together the connective tissue of the story was a unique challenge that Bryan sought out, as he is accustomed to being able to convey emotion using his entire body. However, his genuinely warm and sincere tone added a calming guide for the listener to experience the magic of Kazmir and Michael-Ann’s journey. We were extremely delighted that he was able to add his unique talents to telling this tale.
Nida G. Sanger Editor
Nida grew up with an English teacher mom who saddled her with the annoying lifetime habit of correcting other people's spelling and grammar mistakes. Fortunately, it also inspired a lifetime love of reading and some of her fondest memories of childhood involve being curled up with a great book.
So when Gina shared an early draft of Kazmir with Nida, she simply couldn't resist the opportunity to help the story come to life. Armed with a sharpened pencil, Nida found it easy to inhabit the magical world of Kazmir and Michael-Ann.
Colleen O'Shaughnessy Voice Actor
Michael-Ann, Prince Ahmed, Queen Mother, Daka-la, Felicia Morgan, Gwen, Opling, Answer Head, Wish Weaver Spider
Colleen O’Shaughnessy has been voicing characters since her college days. Though back then, the subjects of her voiceovers were unwitting animals and babies. Nowadays, her voiceovers expand to a litany of classic cartoon roles including Sonic the Hedgehog’s steadfast sidekick “Tails”, Digimon’s leading lady “Sora”, and The Avengers' pint-sized powerhouse “Wasp”. That last role she particularly loved, enjoying the fact that the Wasp was, “funny and sarcastic…but also a badass”.
In preparing for her multiple Kazmir roles, Colleen tested her voices out against the toughest critics of all: her children. Luckily, reading and acting out different roles is a pastime for Colleen’s entire family.
Steve Blum Voice Actor
Kazmir, Farouk, Mosaic, Prof. Neville Fraser, Optionator, Puffinhuffer, Question Head, The Great Hammer Shnail, Helmet Head, Somebody
Steve Blum’s voice is behind some of the most iconic animated characters in the past few decades, ranging from Cowboy Bebop’s martian bounty hunter “Spike Spiegel”, the musclebound Lasat from Star Wars Rebels’ “Zeb Orrelios", and everyone’s favorite metal-clawed Canuck “Wolverine”. Of the latter role, Blum mentioned that every time he tries to get into character he can, “feel the adamantium surge through his bones.” It’s that kind of passion that Steve brought with him into the land of the Five Skies.
When Steve approaches any project, the thing he hopes to encounter are real characters with a great sense of purpose. Upon reading the journey that Michael-Ann and Kazmir take throughout the Five Skies, Steve realized that it encompassed all of the elements that keep him excited about this business and agreed to lend his vocal talents to the team.
Michael Woodrum Producer, Engineer
Michael, the consummate producer, is at the top of his game bringing words to life with sound and music. Michael Woodrum has a ton of experience producing and engineering with rock, pop, and hip hop royalty such as Willie Nelson, Clint Black, Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, Snoop Dogg, Backstreet Boys, Joss Stone, and exciting indie artists such as The Well Pennies, P. Hux, The Show Ponies, and BC Jean.
When given the task of bringing "listening life" to Kazmir, Michael jumped at the opportunity. The story's magic is matched by Michael's musical magic ability in the studio. There he mixed and recorded the character's dialog, added effects to move the story along, modulated the narration to add to its drama, recorded and mixed original music and co-produced with Parthenon Huxley a very special song just for the book.
Bill Brendle Composer
The lush undercurrent of music that populates the world of Kazmir was composed by the prolific Bill Brendle. His musical talents have existed in a variety of spaces over the years, whether it be as a composer at Hollywood Bowl, a collaborating pianist working with pop luminaries such as Justin Timberlake and Whitney Houston, or as an arranger on perhaps the most successful musical reality show of all time, “American Idol”.
When working on Kazmir, Bill endeavored to give each character their own theme, aurally isolating and enhancing the characteristics that they brought to the story. The unique soundscape Bill composed for the story adds a layer of mystique and adventure to Michael-Ann and Kazmir’s quest.
Parthenon Huxley Songwriter
Prolific songwriter Parthenon Huxley has been accused of creating pop songs so infectious that Rolling Stone magazine once raved, “You could land a marlin with these hooks!”. Along from having a successful solo career, Parthenon tours with the current incarnation of ELO, now known as “The Orchestra”.
We approached Parthenon with creating an original theme song to accompany the book. To create emotional territory, he drew inspiration from his own daughters, Fiona and Imogen. What Parthenon created, “My Special Angel”, is a beautiful tribute not only to the book, but to the universal bond shared between parents and their children worldwide.
Performing on "My Special Angel":
Bill Brendle wurlitzer and mellotron
Tom Witt bass
Parthenon Huxley guitar and vocals
Paul Allen drums
This work is dedicated to Michael and Leo, who keep me grounded and laughing out loud.
My family, friends, and life experiences supplied the inspiration.
Many people made this book possible through support, encouragement and creative input.
Thanks for the nudge.
Michael Woodrum | Nida Sanger | Bryan Cranston
Jay Vigon | Elliot Abbott | Betty and Matthew Arnold
Amy Color | Simon Abbott | Dick Monda | Matt Bett
Don Foster | Clayton Henry | Viktor Budnik | Janie Hewson