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
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.