Hi readers! I am very excited to welcome author Victoria Grossack and narrator Erin Evans-Walker to Austenesque Reviews today! As you may already know Victoria Grossack has published two Austen-inspired mysteries – The Highbury Murders and The Meryton Murders. Not too long ago The Meryton Murders was released on Audible audiobook with Erin Evans-Walker as the narrator. I know many of you who love audiobooks are probably happy to hear that! Today both ladies stop by to chat about audio books, The Meryton Murders, and Jane Austen! We hope you enjoy!
Erin, how long have you been producing audio books?
Victoria, what made you decide to do an Audible recording of The Meryton Murders?
One reader of The Meryton Murders in the Kindle edition who reviewed the book very favorably requested that I arrange an Audible recording. I had never explored this seriously before, because paying for this upfront is expensive – and since I didn’t know what I was doing, I didn’t feel qualified to hire or supervise anyone. The process is expensive for a good reason – the narrator has to have the talent to read and act and have the technical knowledge to make a recording that meets all of Audible’s requirements.
But Audible now has a creation exchange to match authors and narrators (called producers), where they agree to share royalties. This means that your producer has a vested interest in making sure everything is done right – and of course producers will only apply for projects they consider worthy. So I figured out how to sign up, put out a request for auditions – I wanted a British female voice – and within three hours Erin applied!
Erin, what made you interested in narrating The Meryton Murders for Audible?
I knew from the beginning that I wanted to do a Regency period novel. I grew up watching loads of film and TV adaptations of Jane Austen works with my mother and sister, and Pride and Prejudice was a long-time favourite! Before starting narration, I read a lot of books aloud to friends and family (and anyone who would listen, really). One of the last ones I did before signing up with ACX and Audible was Jane Austen’s Persuasion, and it was so much fun! So I jumped at the chance to narrate The Meryton Murders.
Victoria, were there any characters you especially enjoyed writing?
I love them all, but Mr. Bennet, Mrs. Bennet, and Mr. Collins all have such distinct personalities and ways of speaking that bringing them to life was great fun. I also discovered more depth in Mrs. Philips and Miss Bingley – and even in Mary, Kitty and Lydia. And then I found a way for Mr. Darcy to save the day, like a hero should, even though he was on his way to do something else.
Erin, what was the greatest challenge about recording The Meryton Murders?
Mrs. Bennet’s voice. I had in my mind Alison Steadman’s fantastic performance from the 1995 miniseries adaptation, but the tone can get a bit… shrill. It sometimes seemed no matter how much I adjusted the microphone settings, reading her dialogue would clip and distort the recording, so I would do it again… and again. My poor neighbours probably wonder what on earth kind of spasms and flutterings my nerves were subjecting me to!
Victoria, what was the greatest challenge in doing an Audible recording of The Meryton Murders?
We decided that Erin would read the text – all of the story – but I wanted to record the Author’s Note myself. Only two pages, and only total of five minutes, but that was hard! I had to learn not to swallow the ends of my sentences; I had to attain a rudimentary competence with the software and hardware, and I had to read while huddled in a blanket with the microphone to reduce the echoes.
Erin, what was the most fun in recording The Meryton Murders?
That is a difficult question… it was a lot of fun overall! I think Jane’s soothing tones and Miss Bingley’s snideness were probably the most fun to perform. Mrs. Bennet and Mrs. Philips had some really entertaining dialogue, too! The banter between the characters really shines throughout.
Victoria, what was the most fun in doing the Audible recording of The Meryton Murders?
Recently I gave a presentation on writing Jane Austen Fan Fiction to a JASNA chapter, and at the end I played the first chapter of Erin’s recording of The Meryton Murders for everyone. Watching the faces of the audience – hearing people laugh when they should – was incredible. My story is no longer just mine; it has a life of its own.
Erin, you mentioned being a fan of Persuasion and Regency novels, do you have any favorite Jane Austen or Regency novels?
That’s a difficult one, but I think my answer is probably Persuasion. I love most of Austen, but there is something about the story of second chances and reconciling youth’s well-intentioned but regretted decisions that resonates. The angst is palpable, and Captain Wentworth’s letter is truly swoon-worthy…
Victoria, what is next for you? Are there any more murders lurking in Jane Austen’s novels?
I have done many thousands of words on a mystery based on Mansfield Park, but it has not yet reached its final form. Mansfield Park has incredible themes but creating a murder mystery has particular challenges. You have to entertain readers with a plot that is both logical and surprising! I hope to work on it this summer, but recently a lot of my time has been sucked up by other projects and responsibilities.
Victoria and Erin, do you have any additional collaborations planned for the future?
Ooh! I’m intrigued by the idea of a Mansfield Park murder and yay for more audiobooks!! How about we switch it up with some Quick-Fire Questions, I always love to end with these!
– What is one of your favorite scenes from Pride and Prejudice?
Erin: One of many, but when Mrs. Bennet cajoles Mr. Bennet into talking to Elizabeth about her refusal of Mr. Collins.
Victoria: Everything is so wonderful! And as the years pass, my favorites shift. But I like when Darcy comes over to listen to Elizabeth’s playing the pianoforte, and the exchange that they have about not playing to other audiences. He is in love with her, and we can see it, but we can also see why Elizabeth, given her prejudice towards him, interprets the conversation differently.
– What is one of your favorite scenes from The Meryton Murders?
Erin: Being general to avoid spoilers – the moment when Mr Darcy saves the day. That’s not a spoiler, is it? Of course Mr. Darcy saves the day!
Victoria: I really enjoyed having Darcy rescue Elizabeth from the murderer. But there’s also a conversation between Lydia and Elizabeth towards the end of the book that was fascinating to write. Although Lydia is considered thoughtless and wild by the standards of Pride & Prejudice, her sins would be considered nothing today.
– What is one of your favorite quotes from Pride and Prejudice?
Erin: “An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.” I do love Mr. Bennet.
Victoria: “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?”
– What is one of your favorite quotes from The Meryton Murders?
Erin: Mrs. Bennet was in hysterics, to which she had little right, as she had not seen the body and had claimed to dislike (the person)… But Mrs. Bennet rather enjoyed yielding to hysterics, and the occasion was too opportune for her not to take advantage of it.
This is 100% how Mrs. Bennet would react to news of a murder. Any murder.
Victoria: “We do not even know where she is to be buried,” lamented Mrs. Philips. “The vicar says she has to be buried on the north side of the church – a suicide, you know – but that it is extremely inconvenient because of the shrubbery. The service, too, will have to be amended. Still, we cannot put the body just anywhere! What are we supposed to do, leave it in a field? If we were on a ship we could put the body in a shroud and throw it overboard – I understand that is what they do at sea, because at sea north and south do not matter.”
Elizabeth thought that north and south, as well as east and west, were of paramount importance at sea, but she did not dispute the point.
– If she decided to write a murder mystery for one of her existing novels, which character (in any of her novels) do you think Jane Austen would have offed? 😉
Erin: Perhaps imagining a Persuasion murder mystery, poor Captain Benwick would meet an untimely end, tragically joining his own first love. Was his swift marriage to Louisa an ill-advised coping mechanism that failed, and in a fit of poetic melancholy he killed himself? Or was it… murder?
Victoria: I think Mrs. Norris from Mansfield Park is the most unpleasant and Austen would have had a certain satisfaction in killing her. However, I think Austen would feel free to murder just about any of her characters. No one would be off limits!
Thank you, Victoria and Erin for answering my questions! It was so great to learn more about both of you the process of creating an audiobook! I never realized how it is much more about acting than reading or reciting lines! I wish you all the best on your future projects!!
Erin Evans-Walker so kindly brings with her today 3 Audible.com codes for The Meryton Murders for me to give away to 3 lucky winners!! Woot woot! (NOTE: These codes will not work on Audible.co.uk, but I believe non US residents can have an Audible.com account!)
To enter this giveaway, leave a comment, question, or some love for Victoria and Erin!!
- This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you, Erin!
- This giveaway ends June 13th!