Acquired Audiobook By: I started to listen to audiobooks in  as a way to offset my readings of print books whilst noting there was a rumour about how audiobooks could help curb chronic migraines as you are switching up how your reading rather than allowing only one format to be your bookish choice. As I found colouring and knitting agreeable companions to listening to audiobooks, I have embarked on a new chapter of my reading life where I spend time outside of print editions of the stories I love reading and exchange them for audio versions. Through hosting for the Audiobookworm I’ve expanded my knowledge of authors who are producing audio versions of their stories whilst finding podcasters who are sharing their bookish lives through pods (ie. AudioShelf and Talking Audiobooks; see my sidebar). Meanwhile, I am also curating my own wanderings in audio via my local library who uses Overdrive for their digital audiobook catalogue whilst making purchase requests for audio CDs. It is a wonderful new journey and one I enjoy sharing – I am hoping to expand the percentage of how many audios I listen to per year starting in 2018.
I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Rational Creatures” via Audiobookworm Promotions in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
From one Janeite to another, this felt like it was hand-picked for us,…
I’ve been a Janeite for a very long time – during #AustenInAugust , I had the joyful pleasure of submitting a guest essay to commemorate how Austen has been moving in and out of my life over the years which ran on a featured day on Roof Beam Reader’s blog. It is in of itself a quite all-inclusive look at how Jane Austen has left a strong impression on my life.
As soon as I first learnt of this blog tour, I had an intuitive reaction to the premise and the sampler I listened to for the collection. It simply felt like it was hand-tailored to those of us who are consistently in awe and love for all stories inter-related to our beloved canon of Jane Austen! There is such a wide field of choices – it is hard to pin down whom to read first, which series play off the original characters so well as it give you goosebumps as you read their new stories as they are so accurately portrayed and which collections of anthologies best hug back into the style of Jane Austen as well.
It isn’t enough to write a variation, sequel, re-telling or experiment with a unique portal of insight which can flourish in the after canon realms – for me, it has to play homage to the original author, the original novel & maintain a sense of loyalty for how Jane Austen herself presented her characters to us. For me, that is a hard rule and one I won’t break as I pick up new stories to read. This is one reason being able to read the Miss Jane Austen series by Collins Hemingway has been such an enjoyable journey (see also my reviews).
Imagine my joy to find this collection on the foot-heels of celebrating the third Miss Jane Austen novel going on a blog tour this October. I am thankful for those writers who are re-experimenting with these characters and re-settling us into their lives as if they are still vibrantly alive and living new adventures to be shared with us all.
An informative conversation with Victoria Riley:
the questions were provided by Audiobookworm Promotions wherein Ms Riley was able to select the 10 questions she preferred to respond to directly.
Generally speaking, I do provide my own interview & guest post topics for authors I am featuring on Jorie Loves A Story – however, due to how chaotic my Summer became, I must admit, I lost sight of a few of the blog tours along the way. Including being able to submit my own questions for Ms Riley. However, I’ve read over her responses in this conversation and love her candor and her willingness to share a personal glimpse into being a narrator, why she personally is passionate about Jane Austen and how adaptive you have to be to get the narrations recorded! I felt this would be a delight of joy to share with my readers – especially as she picked the questions to respond to (as there was quite the long list!) – this felt like a very organic convo to promote.
I also found another interview by Ms Riley you might enjoy reading which was featured during this year’s #AustenInAugust!
Riley responds: Well, I’ve always said that I’d be happy to just sit in a cupboard all day reading books. I didn’t know that I could actually do that and get paid for it. Dreams do come true, folks.
How did you wind up narrating audiobooks? Was it always your goal or was it something you stumbled into by chance?
Riley responds: I’m actually a classically trained actress and was originally interested in theatre. When I started out, audiobooks weren’t really a big thing and it didn’t occur to me as a career. I gradually veered into voiceover and my first audiobook was through my VO agent. I then set up my own studio at home and audiobooks are just one of the things I work on.
A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career?
Riley responds: I wouldn’t say it’s essential, but it really, really helps. We’ve been trained to analyse scripts and characters, to convey nuance and emotion. With audiobooks, you have to do it all with your voice, though, so it is an added skill. However, I do think that some people are natural storytellers. My Mum worked as a primary school teacher and I still remember the way she read books to me before bed.
What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?
Riley responds: I LOVE Jane Austen. I love her female characters with their fire and intelligence. To have such strong minds, but be so restricted with their options in life. For marriage to be your only way forward when you have so much to offer the world. It makes me feel claustrophobic just thinking about it. From a working perspective, this is also my first collection of short stories. Short stories are a real art form. You have to draw the reader (or listener!) into the tale very quickly and make them care about the characters without the luxury of a whole novel in which to do it. I really enjoyed each one being a separate little project, so I had a sense of closure and achievement after each one.
What types of things are harmful to your voice?
Riley responds: I wouldn’t say I’m that careful with it to be honest. I’ve had vocal training drummed into me for decades, so I think it really comes naturally to me to support my voice well and to speak from the diaphragm. I’ve been trained to project to the back of a theatre, without a microphone, night after night after night. Some narrators get tired voices, but you can’t shut me up!
Who are your “accent inspirations”?
Riley responds: Absolutely everybody! I love accents. I have a broad Lancashire accent myself. I hope you can’t tell from ‘Rational Creatures’! If I hear a good accent, someone on TV or in real life, I’ll be there mouthing the words, fascinated by how they’re forming the sounds. Penelope Keith is a good one for very upper class ladies. Pam Ayres for West Country. Some elude me, though. My Cockney wanders all over the place, though you get a snippet of it in ‘Rational Creatures’. My boyfriend has a London accent and sometimes he helps me with pronunciations. I’ll be texting him asking things like ‘Transport or traaaahnsport??’.
How did you decide how each character should sound in this title?
Riley responds: Well, a lot of the characters are very well-known anyway, which helps. I didn’t feel as though I was creating them from scratch. Most of them just jump off the page too. There are simple things like class to consider. Also character traits, like arrogance, pomposity, shyness or humility, which affect voice and delivery. I love a character that you can really embody. When it’s so obvious how they should sound that you don’t even really have to think about it.
How does audiobook narration differ from other types of voiceover work you’ve done?
Riley responds: It takes a REALLY long time, especially if you’re fully producing the work yourself. It takes around six hours to produce one hour of finished audio, sometimes longer. That doesn’t even include all the prep work you have to do first, reading the work in full, researching characters and pronunciations, deciding on voices. Editing takes forever, combing through the recording, editing out little sounds like mouth clicks or any particular noisy breaths. I also regularly do radio jingles, which is a good comparison, because it takes no time at all! Audiobooks are not for the faint-hearted.
If you could narrate one book from your youth what would it be and why?
Riley responds: Apart from absolutely everything by Jane Austen? I have so many author heroes! However, if it’s from my youth, then I’m going to plump for Roald Dahl’s ‘The Witches’. His stories are so evocative and he doesn’t shy away from darker themes. I was born in Pendle Witch country, so this one struck a particular chord with me.
Any funny anecdotes from inside the recording studio?
Riley responds: We’ve all done silly things. Giving an Oscar-worthy performance, then realising you haven’t pressed record. Stuffing a cushion up your jumper to stop tummy rumbles reaching the mic. Gradually getting more naked as you stifle in the booth in summer. We’ve all done it.
“But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.” (Persuasion, Jane Austen)
Jane Austen: True romantic or rational creature? Her novels transport us back to the Regency, a time when well-mannered gentlemen and finely-bred ladies fell in love as they danced at balls and rode in carriages. Yet her heroines, such as Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, and Elinor Dashwood, were no swooning, fainthearted damsels in distress. Austen’s novels are timeless classics because of their biting wit, honest social commentary - because she wrote of strong women who were ahead of their day. True to their principles and beliefs, they fought through hypocrisy and broke social boundaries to find their happily-ever-after.
In the third romance anthology of The Quill Collective series, 16 celebrated Austenesque authors write the untold histories of Austen’s heroines, brave adventuresses, shy maidens, talkative spinsters, and naughty matrons. Peek around the curtain and discover what made Lady Susan so wicked, Mary Crawford so capricious, and Hettie Bates so in need of Emma Woodhouse’s pity.
Rational Creatures is a collection of humorous, poignant, and engaging short stories set in Georgian England that complement and pay homage to Austen’s great works and great ladies who were, perhaps, the first feminists in an era that was not quite ready for feminism.
“Make women rational creatures, and free citizens, and they will become good wives; - that is, if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers.” (Mary Wollstonecraft)
Stories by: Elizabeth Adams, Nicole Clarkston, Karen M Cox, J. Marie Croft, Amy D’Orazio, Jenetta James, Jessie Lewis, KaraLynne Mackrory, Lona Manning, Christina Morland, Beau North, Sophia Rose, Anngela Schroeder, Joana Starnes, Brooke West, and Caitlin Williams
Places to find the book:
Published by The Quill Collective LLC
on 18th July, 2019
Format: Audiobook | Digital
Length: 18 hours and 3 minutes (unabridged)
The stories & authors of “Rational Creatures”:
as well as noting which characters are featured per story
Christina Morland “Self Composed”
Eleanor Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility
Nicole Clarkson “Every Past Affliction”
Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility
Amy D’Orazio “Happiness in Marriage”
Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice
Joana Starnes “Charlotte’s Comfort”
Charlotte Lucas Collins from Pride and Prejudice
Anngela Schroeder “Knightley Discourses”
Emma Woodhouse from Emma
J. Marie Croft “The Simple Things”
Miss Hetty Bates from Emma
Previously, I’ve read Love At First Sight by Ms Croft.
Caitlin Williams “In Good Hands”
Harriet Smith from Emma
Brooke West “The Meaning of Wife”
Fanny Price from Mansfield Park
Jenetta James “What Strange Creatures”
Mary Crawford from Mansfield Park
Elizabeth Adams “An Unnatural Beginning”
Anne Elliot from Persuasion
Karalynne Mackrory “Where the Sky Touches the Sea”
Sophia Croft from Persuasion
Lona Manning “The Art of Pleasing”
Penelope Clay from Persuasion
Beau North “Louisa by the Sea”
Louisa Musgrove from Persuasion
Sophia Rose “The Strength of their Attachment”
Catherine Moreland from Northanger Abbey
Karen M. Cox “A Nominal Mistress”
Eleanor Tilney from Northanger Abbey
Jessie Lewis “The Edification of Lady Susan”
Lady Susan from Lady Susan
Most of the collection installments are available in audio,
the few which are not are noted below for easy reference.
I hope one day they all will include an audio release.
The Quill Collective series:
(read about the series on their site)
The Darcy Monologues (volume one)
Dangerous to Know:
Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues (volume two)
(*this one is not in audiobook)
Rational Creatures (volume three)
Yuletide: A Jane Austen-inspired Collection of Stories (volume four)
(*this one is not in audiobook)
Converse via: #RationalCreatures & #QuillCollective + #AudioReads
OR #loveaudiobooks, #JaneAusten and #Janeite or #Austenites
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: