Yea! I’m thrilled to say that my latest novel – Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley – is now available in audio format!
It seems like it’s been a long time coming. First I had to wait for my favorite narrator, Marian Hussey, who is very much in demand, to become available. And then the production process itself took a few weeks.
She studies the material ahead of time with some general direction from me as to how I see the characters and what I want. In this case, since Marian had already narrated my previous two P&P sequels (The Darcys of Pemberley and Return to Longbourn), I just requested that she voice the characters the same way to make the transition from book to book as seamless as possible for the reader/listener. After she had recorded the book, I “proof listened” to it, noting the changes I wanted as I went along. Once I was satisfied, the entire audio book had to go through a final quality control review before being released.
I think the result was well worth the wait, though. I especially appreciate Marian’s gift for unique character voices and the way she transitioned from a young, tentative-sounding Georgiana in the beginning to a more mature and confident young lady by the end of the story. (The audio book is now available at Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.)
Personally, I love the audio format, which allows me to multiply my reading time. In addition to whatever book I’m reading with my eyes at any given period, I always have a second one going – reading it with my ears whenever I’m in the car. It sure makes traffic slow downs easier to take. I’m in no hurry to get where I’m going when I’m wanting to find out what happens next in the story! Sometimes I’ll even sit for a few minutes after I arrive, just to get to the end of a scene or a chapter.
Although reading while driving could be considered a sign of our busy times – another form of multi-tasking – I think audio books also hearken back to a simpler age. Didn’t we all love having bedtime stories read to us when we were children? And in Jane Austen’s day, before television and other modern options, it was a common form of group entertainment. She refers to it in this passage from chapter 14 of Pride and Prejudice, for example. Unfortunately, this is not a very resounding endorsement of the entertainment, thanks to Mr. Collins’s limitations:
Mr. Bennet was glad to take his guest into the drawing-room again, and…glad to invite him to read aloud to the ladies. Mr. Collins readily assented, and a book was produced; but, on beholding it… he started back, and begging pardon, protesting that he never read novels. Kitty stared at him, and Lydia exclaimed. Other books were produced, and after some deliberation he chose Fordyce’s Sermons. Lydia gaped as he opened the volume, and before he had, with very monotonous solemnity, read three pages, she interrupted him.
I also had fun finding references to reading aloud in several of Jane Austen’s preserved letters. Here’s an excerpt from one dated December, 1816, to “My Dear E.”
Uncle Henry writes very superior sermons. You and I must try to get hold of one or two, and put them into our novels: it would be a fine help to a volume; and we could make our heroine read it aloud on a Sunday evening…
I’m not quite sure of the context, except that I’m assuming this letter is to one of Jane’s many nieces and that the Henry mentioned is Jane’s brother. In any case, Jane apparently found Henry’s sermons much more worth listening to than Fordyce’s!
Below, she is writing to another of her nieces with literary aspirations – Anna, who has sent chapters of her own work to her Aunt Jane for her comments. The letter is from May/June, 1814.
I am very much obliged to you for sending your MS [manuscript]. It has entertained me extremely; all of us indeed. I read it aloud to your Grandmama and Aunt Cass, and we were all very much pleased… A few verbal corrections are all that I felt tempted to make… If you think differently, however, you need not mind me. I am impatient for more, and only wait for a safe conveyance to return this book.
Imagine the privilege of having the great Jane Austen critique and compliment your book!
But her comment about a few verbal corrections reminds me of another aspect of producing an audio book. I mentioned above that as I “proof listened,” I made note of changes to request. What I didn’t mention was that some of those errors were the author’s, not the narrator’s. Oops! There’s nothing like hearing my own words read back to me – exactly as written instead of what I thought I wrote – to bring the flaws to light. Thanks to this process, I’ve been able to correct a half-dozen minor typos and a couple of annoying word repeat issues.
So now that you know, should you feel disappointed that you had already purchased the earlier, slightly flawed version? Not at all! You now can claim to own a special, limited first edition!