Jul 262019

Happy Friday, readers! As you might have seen earlier this week the Audible audiobook for Rational Creatures was released! Woot woot! 🎉 And today we are happy to welcome the narrator of this lovely collection, Victoria Riley to Austenesque Reviews for a little tête-à-tête. We hope you enjoy!

Hi Victoria, it is so lovely to have a chance to chat with you! We are great admirers of Rational Creatures and we are so excited that this lovely anthology is now available on Audible audiobook. How about we start by talking a little bit about Jane Austen. Have you read/seen/heard of any Jane Austen novels prior to this project?

Yes, absolutely. I devoured all of Jane Austen’s novels in my teens. I’m a huge fan of the classics and Jane Austen is one of my favourites. The only one I hadn’t read was Lady Susan, so it was wonderful to be introduced to a work with which I wasn’t familiar. I loved the idea of exploring the characters in different ways and narrating a collection of short stories was particularly appealing. Fully narrating and producing an eighteen hour book is a considerable undertaking, but with short stories, each one feels like a new project, so it’s a lovely way to work.

That is wonderful to hear that you enjoyed working on this project, Victoria, and that you were already familiar with most of Jane Austen’s novels and characters! Do you have a favorite Jane Austen novel? What do you like about Jane Austen?

I love her heroines with their wit and wisdom. The idea of living in a time during which marriage is viewed as your sole option for progression in life is terrifying to me. The way that Jane Austen examines, questions and mocks these social constructs is wonderful. My favourite is Mansfield Park, because it’s darker and more disturbing than the others.

Oooh! That is a rare pick for a favorite, although some critics argue about it being her best novel. Speaking of bests…while we absolutely adore all the anthologies by The Quill Ink Collective, Rational Creatures holds a very special place in our hearts because of its focus on women strength and intelligence, and this anthology illustrates the variety of ways these women seize their own happinesses. Can you share your thoughts about the theme and message of this collection?

It was difficult in the Regency period to be a feminist when all of society was structured to ensure you were dependent on men. There are references throughout the book to Mary Wollstonecraft’s ‘A Vindication of The Rights of Woman’, which was an exploration of feminism before the word ‘feminism’ even existed! Jane Austen’s heroines are witty, intelligent, intellectual and often even manipulative in their quests for happiness. They are depicted to be at least equal to their male counterparts. These were difficult themes to explore at the time and Jane Austen published anonymously as it was not even considered ‘ladylike’ to be an author. Some of my other favourite authors are George Eliot and the Brontë sisters, all of whom wrote under male pseudonyms in a bid to be taken seriously, which is so shocking when they are all such accomplished writers.

It is indeed shocking to see for how long women were considered “inferior” because of their gender. And I really love how in her novels Jane Austen takes special pains to portray women that are strong, independent, and capable. What is something you learned while recording Rational Creatures? Was there anything that surprised you?

Well, there is a common subject of discussion amongst narrators. We are all voracious readers, but there are some words which we have only ever read in our heads. We suddenly discover, upon narrating these words, that we have been mentally mispronouncing them for decades! Mine from this novel was ‘tryst’, which I’ve been mentally mispronouncing as ‘try-st’ for my entire life. From a previous novel, it was ‘tousled’, which I’ve been mentally mispronouncing as ‘toozled’ forever!

How funny! That is something that is also true for us Americans that read British novels and pronounce some new-to-us words differently in our heads…like for me it was cravat. What was the greatest challenge about recording Rational Creatures?

Narrating audiobooks is incredibly laborious and time-consuming. Each hour of finished audio takes at least six hours to produce. People think you’re just reading into a microphone, but it’s so much more in-depth. You have to read it and prep first, researching characters and pronunciations. It then takes about two hours to actually narrate one hour as you inevitably make mistakes and have to re-read parts. It can also get very hot and stuffy in the booth, so you need to take regular breaks. Then it takes about four hours to edit and master each finished hour of audio. That’s the really laborious part! Combing through each moment checking and editing out any little mouth clicks or particularly loud breaths. Then you have to listen to the whole thing through whilst following the text to check for errors. Then re-record any mistakes and edit them in. It’s SUCH hard work, but we do it because we love it. It’s an art form.

That is an extensive process, but that is great to hear that it is work you love to do. What did you enjoy most about recording Rational Creatures?

The characterisations. I loved creating the voices! Also, my natural accent is broad Lancashire, so narrating some of the really posh characters was great fun.

I bet!! I imagine it is fun to narrate any Jane Austen novel or inspired story as her characters are so wonderfully drawn and diverse! Out of all the women featured in this anthology was there any that you felt a connection or partiality towards?

There are some moments in the book which are so poignant. There is one particular moment with Sophia Croft, which is so clever and upsetting. It’s really insightful writing. I loved voicing Lady Susan too as she’s really sassy. Of all the women, though, I think I will choose Hetty Bates. She’s so humble and kind (which isn’t very me!) but it’s her love of animals, which really strikes a chord. I’d always prefer to be with dogs than people!

Name something that you would love about living in Jane Austen’s time. Name something that you would find challenging about living in Jane Austen’s time.

The clothes! I love a Regency era evening gown. All silk and bosoms! Gorgeous. However, I would most definitely find the dependence on men challenging. I have no desire to be ‘married off’ for social advancement! I would very much like my own country estate, though. Oh, and some ponies, please.

Excellent answers, Victoria! We are so with you on the country estate!! Yes, indeed! We appreciate you answering our questions today. Congrats to you and all the authors involved on the release of the Audible audiobook of Rational Creatures!

~ Want a Sample? ~

Here is a fabulous sample of Victoria Riley narrating Jenetta James’s story about Mary Crawford titled “What Strange Creatures.”

To listen to more samples, visit here.

Check out Rational Creatures on Audible audiobook

Amazon US    I    Audible US    I    Audible UK    I    Audible France    I    Audible Denmark



Christina Boyd is generously offering a $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky reader as a giveaway prize in celebration of the Audible audiobook release of Rational Creatures

To enter this giveaway, leave a comment about Rational Creatures, audiobooks, or my interview with Victoria Riley.​

  • This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you Christina
  • This giveaway ends August 2nd.


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  50 Responses to “Interview + Giveaway with Narrator Victoria Riley!!!”


    Thank you so much, Meredith, for hosting our voice actor Victoria Riley. We auditioned eighteen narrators and when it came down to the final four, the deciding factor was her enthusiasm for this project and knowledge of the source material. That is huge when undertaking a project like this with sixteen protagonists, all with varying personalities and traits, and then all the supporting characters and interpretations/perspective of Austen’s canon. At eighteen hours of finished storytelling, we couldn’t be more pleased—Especially with the professional, clear audio quality. I hope audiobook fans will download Rational Creatures to their audible library.


    I did not realize that it took six hours to have a one hour finished product. I was interested to read Christina’s comment that 18 people were interviewed. I have so enjoyed these anthologies and have heard one audiobook. I think that audiobooks allows the characters to become alive. It really is a totally different experience. I cannot imagine the correct pronunciation of some words and the correct accent. Thank you for the giveaway.


      I think it is amazing to learn all the work that goes into Production of an audiobook. Some, I guess, could just “phone it in” but I am Certain the quality wouldn’t be there. I am fortunate to have been able to hire pros who have produced quality worthy of my authors’ words.


    Victoria did such an elegant job of breathing life into sixteen unique characters. I cannot imagine how difficult that would be! Thank you, Victoria, for all your dedication and hard work. You really made these characters come alive! Thanks for hosting, Meredith!


    What a fantastic interview, thank you ladies! Victoria, it was a complete delight hearing you read Lady Susan. I think my exact words to Christina when I first heard it were “it felt like someone else had written it” because it was so fresh – it certainly shows that you enjoyed her sass, because you read it exactly how I imagined she would sound. I would never in a million years have guessed you had a Lancs. accent – brava! I also had a giggle at what you said about reading words a certain way in your head – I recently wrote a piece on my blog about just this. I had misread the word “mistrial” as “mis-tree-ul” and couldn’t fathom why my friends laughed when I questioned a news article about a famous case being dismissed due to one! (My husband’s version is the name Penelope, which he always pronounces like you would say “antelope” – ha ha ha!”) Anyway, great interview, brilliant narration and another super collection from Christina. Thanks for hosting Meredith!


    Thanks for interviewing Victoria, Meredith. I love how audios, well done, can bring stories to life .
    Nothing like having someone characterize a story collection with authentic accents ☺
    Congrats Cristina and Victoria !


      I agree! I enjoy when an accent is authentic or at least a hint but not a caricature. Love my audiobook library.


    Great interview! The project sounds daunting. My husband is an author, and we have just finished producing his second audiobook. His audiobooks are only five hours long, so I guess our narrator had it easy! I agree with Christina; picking a narrator is a tough job. I look forward to hearing your interpretation of these wonderfully rational creatures.


      We think Victoria did a great job. She would do her performance and production of each story. Then she would send us the audio story. The author of each story and I would listen to it and flag anything that might need correction like an odd pronunciation or reflect a different character’s voice better— and she would make the adjustment. Then after all of it was complete, we’d go through it all again and note anything like audio mechanical sounds or other quality issues in production — and then many hours later, it was ready. Quite an undertaking. But the finished product is well worth the effort. Victoria is a pro! It is a pleasure to work with someone who takes such pride in their work. I’ve been lucky with my narrators for all three anthologies.


    What a wonderful interview! Thanks so much for hosting the Rational Creatures audio-book, Meredith, and thanks, Victoria, for your amazing production and for sharing your thoughts!


      I am thrilled you too liked the audiobook, Joana. With several of your own novels already in audiobook, it means a lot that you approve. Thanks again for your awesome Charlotte story.


    Very interesting article. My dog loves audiobooks because I walk longer. I do to for the same reason. We’d both like to win this one. Thanks for the opportunity.


      I love audio books for road trips & tedious chores like weeding and laundry. Makes the time


      I love audiobooks for long drive and while I do tedious chores like weeding and laundry. Makes the time more enjoyable.


    That’s funny (but also very true) what you said about mis-“pronouncing” words in your head. I remember as a kid, I was reading a book with a character named Naomi. I’d never heard of this name or seen it, and just couldn’t get my brain wrapped around it. I ended up just “saying” Nonomi in my head, so I could continue reading the book.


    A lovely interview, Meredith!! And I really enjoyed your responses, Victoria. With so many stories and soooo many characters, I can’t imagine how much work goes into reading these works. And then pronouncing all of the words properly!! Yikes!! Being a rather voracious reader, I possess a decent vocabulary, but there are a good number of words which I have NO idea how to pronounce!!

    Thanks for a welcoming and very informative interview, Victoria and Meredith!!

    Susanne 🙂


    Victoria and Christina Boyd, thanks for your hard work in making this audiobook come to life! Meredith, thanks for hosting the interview!


    Enjoyed the interview. Congrats on the audiobook release and thank you for the giveaway!


    I was SO pleased when I heard Victoria’s narration of Eleanor Tilney’s story! She has done a marvelous job and listeners are going to love the Rational Creatures audiobook.
    And I think everyone has one of those “I’ve been saying it wrong in my head” stories. Mine was the Thames River – you can imagine how I said it 😀 And had a very public calling out in my freshman English class – even the teacher laughed (so embarrassing, but there you have it.)


    I don’t listen to audiobooks, but since sounds like a great place to begin.


    Great interview, thank you Meredith and Victoria. It is a thrill to hear a story you’ve written come to life! It mattered a lot to me that Victoria was already a Janeite — I knew she would give an intelligent, captivating performance. My mispronounced words were “lapel” and “cuticle.” And ditto on “Thames.”


    YES! That she was familiar with the source material was HUGE especially with so many characters—and not just P&P—for instance how she delivered your Mrs Clay’s POV. So awesome given she is not a huge character in canon.


    Gosh what an amount of work that’s going into it! But I bet the result is simply wonderful 😀 I have a paperback of this book & really love it 🙂


      Thank you! I am particularly proud of this story. I know we tried to present something Austenesque from a different angle.


    What a fun interview! Well done.


    Really enjoyed this interview & I loved the stories in this novel 😀 Thanks for a chance to win!!


    Wonderful interview! I can see there’s a LOT of work that goes into an audio book. Thanks for a peek inside the process.
    Thanks for a chance to win a gift card!


      This is our third audiobook for the anthologies and I meant ever amazed by the work involved. It’s so much more than just reading it into a microphone.


    This interview was just great, Meredith and Victoria. From the narration sample, I can tell this has been beautifully done, and I’m so eager to listen to these stories brought to life. Another audiobooks fan here. When I got the first little bit of news that this was coming out, I got so excited, because as with everyone else I loved these stories!

    I really cannot imagine doing voice work. First, I hate the sound of my own voice, and second, I have had to record outgoing messages for a doctor’s office I worked at and was terrible at it. I’m talking a 15 second recording, speaking quickly but concisely. You know…..’if this is an emergency, blah blah blah.’ I’d have my little script I wrote myself, practice it and make mistake after mistake, rerecording and rerecording. Of course this had to be at the end of the day when I was frazzled and tired: Every holiday, every snow day, new hours, etc. Ha, poor me. Loved my job though. Anyway, let me tell you how much I am in awe of a wonderfully produced audio book!!!! You have a great voice, Victoria. Best of luck on your next project, too. 🙂

    p.s. Loved everyone’s mispronunciation stories. 😀


    Oh how delightful to have this book in spoken words 🙂 Sometimes listening to a book while your eyes are closed is more relaxing than sitting with the book in your comphy chair. Must admit I have not read this one yet, but it sounds intruiging!!


    Oh, Victoria.I think we are alike because I prefer to be around animals than people. At the very least dogs and cats will show their true affection when they like you. But I digress.

    It’s great to know the hard work you put into producing something you love to do. I think this is my first time learning the complex process of narrating an audiobook. It’s quite enlightening to know.


      I agree. I love my fur baby so much more than humans sometimes. Haha.
      Yes, producing an audiobook is a daunting task but Victorian was a pro and made the process flow well on our end.


    I’m listening to my first audiobook right now – P&P of course and I didn’t expect I’d love it so much! Yay for discovering a new way to enjoy books!


    Definitely right Victoria.Unlikable during the Regency times are the restrictions and status of women. Congrats on finally getung this book in Audio. Loved audio books during driving esp when stuck in traffic or waiting for the kids to come out from school ( of course I am ok even if they have a delay;)


    Such an interesting interview. Now I wonder what words I have been mentally mispronouncing without realizing it!


      I know, right? I remember in one of the previous anthologies that the male voice actor said a place name really oddly — and when I googled it, of course our British actor was correct and my American self had to be satisfied that some letters are just not pronounced. Haha! Even the author was surprised—pleasantly surprised— to learn the correct pronunciation.

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