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Monday, August 5, 2019

GIVEAWAY of Rational Creatures + interview with audiobook narrator, Victoria Riley!

You can catch Christina Boyd, Austenesque Editor Extraordinaire, in this year's Janeite Convos, but today she's stopped by to have a chat with the narrator of the audiobook version of the feminist-Austen short story collection, Rational Creatures — as well as give three of you a chance to win something!
And keep an eye out, because later in AIA, you'll be hearing some of my thoughts on Rational Creatures!


by Christina Boyd, Editor, Rational Creatures
Rational Creatures, feminist stories, jane austen, feminist jane austen, giveaway, austen in august, christina boyd, the book rat, book rat misty

Jane Austen’s novels evoke romantic imaginings of fastidious gentlemen and gently bred ladies ... Yet through her veiled wit, honest social commentary, and cleverly constructed prose in a style ahead of her day, Austen’s heroines manage to thwart strict mores—and even the debauchery of Regency England—to reach their fairy tale endings. But have you never wondered about her other colorful characters like Mary Crawford, Hetty Bates, Elinor Tilney, Louisa Musgrove, et al.—and how they came to be? In Persuasion, Mrs. Croft says,
“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.”
Those words have always struck me as terribly modern and I have wondered what Mrs. Croft might have been thinking when she said those very words to her brother Captain Frederick Wentworth.

I believe several of Jane Austen’s characters might have had feminist sensibilities, even if they yielded to the expectations of their sphere. It was the intent in our anthology, Rational Creatures, to remain true to the ladies we recognize in Austen’s great works—whilst stirring feminism in the hearts of some of these beloved characters. Publishers Weekly said of this collection of backstories or parallel tales off-stage of canon:
“Austen’s characters glow with the beloved novelist’s timeless blend of romantic intrigue, witticisms, and biting social commentary of life’s absurdities.”
When auditioning a voice actor for our audiobook, we knew the narrator had to have the ability to assume the roles of sixteen different Austen leading ladies as well as the countless supporting characters for each story…without being over-the-topic or making any a caricature of what we have seen in film. We auditioned over eighteen narrators and finally the Rational Creatures team agreed Victoria Riley, a British voiceover artist and audiobook narrator, was our choice. How delighted we were to learn Victoria is also an Austen fan and is quite knowledgeable of our source material! Originally trained as a theater actor, Victoria Riley gradually moved into voice work and is now happiest behind the mic. She loves classic literature and travelling the world. If she isn't recording, she says she’s probably lying in a hammock in some far-flung place, reading book after book after book. Sounds like our kind of people! –Christina

The Interview with Victoria Riley, Voice Actor

AIA: When did you know you wanted to be an audiobook narrator?
Victoria Riley: 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.

AIA: How did you wind up narrating audiobooks? Was it always your goal or was it something you stumbled into by chance?
Victoria Riley: 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.

AIA: What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?
Victoria Riley: 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.

AIA: How did you decide how each character should sound in this title?
Victoria Riley: 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.

AIA: Any funny anecdotes from inside the recording studio?
Victoria Riley: 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.

Those anecdotes! Too funny. Thank you, Victoria, for sharing a little about yourself and this new audiobook. We wish you much success and look forward to listening to these sixteen stories. (I understand it is about eighteen hours of audiobook! WOW!) Here is a SoundCloud link to the sample clips for Rational Creatures.

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.
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 * Caitlin Williams * Edited by Christina Boyd * Foreword by Devoney Looser * Narrated by Victoria Riley

Giveaway Time!
Christina Boyd of The Quill Ink Blog will give away a FREE Audible code to download #RationalCreatures audiobook to TWO lucky winners who comment on this blog post.
Also, the Quill Ink will give away a $15 Amazon gift card to one random winner who takes the
(skip over the email sign up—it is not necessary for the results) THEN tell us in the comments which “rational creature” you are.
Giveaway open until September 5th, 2019. Open internationally. Good luck!

And you can connect with Christina anywhere on social!

Jane Austen, Austen in August, blog event, Jane Austen fan fiction, JAFF, The Book Rat, BookRatMisty
Click here to return to the master list of Austen in August posts!


  1. Apparently I am Mary Crawford, an "orphaned heiress" who is "charming, witty, and handsome"! It's almost like you know me!

    If I'm lucky enough to win, just in case this doesn't provide you an email contact for me, here is my disguised email address:

    jsmith[delete brackets]3may[delete brackets]2011

    [at symbol]


    1. Oooooh yes! I love Mary Crawford and think Jenetta James, the author of the short in "Rational Creatures," wrote a remarkable character story.

  2. The character I have been paired with is Sophia Croft: "
    Rational and wise, sister to Captain Frederick Wentworth, Mrs. Croft is half of one of the few examples of a happy marriage that Jane Austen ever wrote. As a well-travelled and confident woman, she sets the standard of a good navy wife and helpmeet. “...as long as we were together nothing ever ailed me, and I never met with the smallest inconvenience.” —Persuasion, Chapter VIII."

    Thanks for the chance to win!

    1. Sophia Croft--LERVE her! And KaraLynne Mackrory's story is a poignant backstory.

  3. I took the test and the results said I was Sophia Croft. Thanks for the giveaways.

  4. My quiz results gave me Fanny Price.

  5. Woot ! I’m Sophia Croft ๐Ÿ’• (don’t enter me in the giveaway , for obvious reasons ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) Great interview with Victoria- love her funny anecdotes! Good luck , everyone on the giveaway.

  6. Woot from me too Karen, another Sophia Croft here. I'm very pleased, I love her character. By The way, I'm almost finished with the aydiobook and it's great!

    1. Oh, I am so delighted you are enjoying the stories. Thank you.!

  7. nice interview
    got Mary Crawford
    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  8. I already have this so please don't enter me into the giveaway for the audiobook. I just wanted to tell people that if you don't win go ahead and buy it, it was wonderful to listen to!!! The narrator did an excellent job!!!

  9. I got Sophia Croft, I am happy with that because I think she is an underappreciated. She was not afraid of a challenge or hard work. :-)

  10. I got "Eleanor Tilney". That was unexpected! Thanks for the chance to win. I saw this post in the Monday, Aug. 05, 2019 edition of The BookTube Your Shelf Daily Reader.

  11. Great interview! I'm so thankful for Victoria's work on this project (and yours, too, Christina)! Don't enter me in the giveaway, of course, but I did want to report that I somehow tricked the quiz into claiming I'm Elizabeth Bennet. Hah! Poor Mr. Darcy. He'd marry me and find out I'm actually more of a Caroline Bingley...

  12. This was so much fun, I got Emma which I really connect with :) Loved the quiz and learning more about Victoria.

  13. Loved meeting Victoria through the interview. Loved being part of Christina's project. Fun quiz! Ha, I got Sophia Croft as well. :)
    Please don't enter me, Christina!

  14. I got Elizabeth Bennet... I've usually ended up being a more minor character. I'm stronger than I thought ☺.
    Very interesting interview with Victoria.
    I've been wanting to read this for several years but haven't gotten to it yet. I'm a huge audiobook lover and appteciate the giveaway and chance to get to this book. Thanks

  15. I got Elizabeth Bennet..how lovely. Loved the interview

  16. I got Elizabeth Bennet too. When I first read P&P I was blown away that the heroine of a nearly 200 year old novel was so relatable. These days I am more Darcy than Lizzy though!

  17. My results: Marianne Dashwood
    A young lady of great feeling, Marianne’s high spirits and spontaneity are dramatically magnified after her father’s death, loss of her childhood home, and by acting the part of a woman wildly in love. Her disappointments, pleasures, and affections have no limits—to the detriment of all in her sphere. After she has been betrayed by a practiced rake, she finds herself at death’s door but has a second chance at love and becoming a rational creature. “I wish, as well as everybody else, to be perfectly happy; but, like everybody else, it must be in my own way.” —Sense and Sensibility, Chapter XVII.

    Whoa, the death, loss, love, betrayal, death's door, and second chance at love: no joke, all that's happened to me. This was fun, thanks for the quiz~!

  18. Elizabeth Bennet! Sweet! Wonderful interview.

  19. I am Fanny Price. I got scared when I saw "Fanny at firt. Then I saw Price.... Wheww. I never read Mansfield Parks. I think I will now. I need to know who Fanny Price is....

  20. I am Fanny Price. I got scared when I saw "Fanny at firt. Then I saw Price.... Wheww. I never read Mansfield Parks. I think I will now. I need to know who Fanny Price is....

  21. I have no idea how I got this but Fanny Price. No idea how since I am nothing like her.

  22. I took the quiz before and I think I got Sophia Croft. I just re-take it and the result is still the same. I'm happy that my outlook on life hasn't change.

    Btw, the interview is fun. It made me laugh when I read the funny anecdotes part.

  23. I got Mary Crawford. Rational Creatures sounds good.


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