When cats and polygamists collide: Local writer receives Audie nomination for quirky audiobook

Adele Park pictured in her studio with her cat Allison, St. George, Utah, Feb. 26, 2019 | Photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — How do cats, polygamists and a band called the Rectal Surgeons fit into a romantic Utah satire? Local writer Adele Park puts a unique spin on young love in her Southern Utah-based audiobook “Splat! A Quirky Cat Audio Book,” which was recently nominated as an Audie Awards finalist for original work.

Splat!” is Park’s fourth audiobook and her third time being nominated for an Audie Award. Her first book, “Jitters, A Quirky Little Audio Book,” was an Audie Award winner for multi-voice performance in 2011.

The Audie Awards, sometimes referred to as the Oscars of the audiobook industry, are sponsored by the Audio Publishers Association. The awards are held as a way to recognize talent in audio publishing, and the winners are revealed at an annual gala awards ceremony in New York City. This year’s ceremony took place March 4 and awarded audiobooks in 24 different categories.

“It was an honor for ‘Splat! A Quirky Cat Audio Book’ to be a finalist alongside such fantastic titles in the original work category,” Park said. “I’m not really hooked on awards so much as I want my cast to have their voices heard in front of people that are the top leaders in the industry.”

All of Park’s stories are set in the fictitious town of Navel, Utah, a community founded on polygamy and nestled in the middle of a wild orange grove.

“I just wanted to have a unique location where I could have some kind of kooky things happen and have it be a little bit different,” Park said. “I write satires, and they’re really edgy satires. This particular one is kind of a cross between ‘Big Love’ meets ‘South Park.'”

Adele Park pictured in her studio with her cat Allison, St. George, Utah, Feb. 26, 2019 | Photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News

“Splat!” is narrated by the character Skitters, a snarky cat who likes to insult the listeners at the start of each chapter and is voiced by Eric Comeau.  

“Throughout my audiobooks, I always have people who have pets because I just think pets are funny, and I think people are funny around their pets,” Park said. “So when I started doing this audiobook I thought, ‘Gosh, wouldn’t it be funny if I had the cat narrate the book?'”

In the story, Skitters moves to a mansion in Navel where both he and his teenage owner become romantically involved with females living in a polygamist community. Skitter’s new relationship is far from perfect, with his new girlfriend fat-shaming him and putting him through a variety of struggles.

Skitter’s owner, Brandon Spinkle, who also happens to be the son of the lead singer for a band called the Rectal Surgeons, has his own share of troubles as he tries to date a polygamist girl, even after his mother becomes a contestant on a reality TV show called Celebrity Cougars.

Even though Park’s books are humorous in nature, she addresses the issue of polygamy on a more serious note in one of the chapters of “Splat!,” in which a young polygamist girl tells her story.

“We do touch on that subject in a serious manner, but we don’t get really heavy into it because we’re writing comedy,” Park said. “We’re a little careful about how we handle that. But it’s a serious topic, and I don’t want to pretend that it’s not.”

The book is narrated by a full cast of nine actors who tell the story in first person narratives. All of the actors in “Splat!” are from Utah, and most are from the Southern Utah area.

Park voices the character Moon McKenna, whom she describes as being “pretty didactic” and “all business” but who also helps women who want to leave their polygamist community.

It takes Park about a year to write an audiobook and then another year to record and edit it. Park not only writes, voice acts and edits her audiobooks, but she produces them through her business, Straight to Audio Productions, LLC.

Eric Comeau, the voice actor for Skitters the cat, in the Straight to Audio Productions studio, date not specified, St. George, Utah | Photo courtesy of Adele Park, St. George News

Park formed Straight to Audio Productions in 2008 after being unable to find a publisher to review her work without an agent and unable to find an agent who would represent her without having been published previously.

Having spent 20 years working as a TV and radio reporter, news anchor and on-air personality, Park asked herself why she wanted to be published in the first place and realized that it was because she wanted to make an audiobook.

“So I bypassed the publishing industry altogether and went straight to audio,” Park said.

After starting her business, Park built a custom studio in her house and began to write and record audiobooks at home, hiring actors from as far as New York to record with her.

Because of her history in broadcasting, Park chose to promote her books through a series of radio campaigns as part of her promotional tour. She has appeared on a number of radio stations including Road Dog Trucking, America in the Morning, and KOGO in San Diego. Last week she was interviewed by both WLS in Chicago and The Talk of Connecticut.

But radio isn’t the only way that Park promotes her books. She is also the creator of dozens of short videos, the most recent of which feature a talking Skitters the cat. She has also recently launched a podcast that she describes as being “funny, but informative segments about cats.”

Always looking for unique ways to promote her books, Park submitted her first book, “Jitters,” to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’s “Do Not Read” list. And while she didn’t expect anything to come of it, her book was selected for the list, the very same year that the book won an Audie Award for multi-voice performance.

If I cannot laugh at my own stuff when I’m writing satire, I am missing the point,” Park said. “So I don’t want to just make jokes, I want to be part of them. And so if other people are making fun of me and using my stuff to do it, that’s great, that’s what it’s there for. It’s there to make people laugh.”

Email: mshoup@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @MikaylaShoup

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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