Anyone who knows me or reads my audiobook reviews regularly will know that Rosalyn Landor is my hero. Her recording of Lisa Kleypas’ Devil in Winter was, I think, the first historical romance audiobook I listened to and I was so thoroughly taken with her performance that I was hooked on audiobooks from that moment and haven’t looked back since. I’ve listened to her probably more than any other narrator – which isn’t surprising, since much of her work is in my preferred genre of historical romance – and while I can’t actually say that she’s recorded more in the genre than any other narrator (I haven’t counted!) her name does appear more than any other in AudioGals’ Guide to Historical Romance. She’s narrated books by the biggest names in the genre – Mary Balogh, Lisa Kleypas, Courtney Milan and Julia Quinn, to name but a few, and I’m delighted to welcome her to AudioGals to talk about her latest performance – in Julia Quinn’s Because of Miss Bridgerton – audiobook narration and her career in general.
Giveaway is closed
Entry is simple. We gave away one (1) download of the audiobook Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn, narrated by Rosalyn Landor, generously provided by Harper Audio. Just complete the easy entry form below the interview by midnight US Central Time Monday, April 11th. No comments are necessary to enter although we’d love to hear your thoughts in our discussion area. You may only enter once – anyone entering more than once will be disqualified. We’ll contact the winner on Tuesday, April 12th, so watch your email as we must have acknowledgement of your win within 48 hours. If we don’t hear from you, we’ll select another winner.
Caz: Welcome Rosalyn!
Rosalyn Landor: Hello Caz! It’s delightful to have this opportunity to introduce myself in person to the AudioGals readership.
Caz: You’ve been narrating audiobooks for a number of years now. I’d love to know how you started out.
RL: I suppose it’s an extension of a career that began many years earlier – I’ve been an actress since the age of seven! I had a friend in New York who had been borrowing audiobooks since their inception and who felt it would be a great way to utilise my British accent. I went ahead and submitted a tape recording, (goodness, that dates me!) and after that, Books on Tape contacted me and asked me to come in and do some pages for them as a “cold read”, something I’d not rehearsed and was to narrate on the spot. They hired me about a month later to narrate a book, and and shortly after that for another – and that’s where it all began.
Caz: Did you start off recording romances?
RL: In essence, I’m one of the earlier romantic fiction narrators, and at the time I began narrating in the mid 2000’s, the divisions were fewer and I think less clearly defined than we see them today. Historical Romance, Chick Lit and Contemporary romantic fiction predominated, and if anyone DID narrate Erotica, it was done very quietly (no pun intended!) and often under a pseudonym.
Caz: What was the first audiobook you recorded?
RL: I started narrating historical fiction in my first year with Random House – when it was still known as Books On Tape – and I was hired to read A Rose for the Crown by Anne Easter Smith. This was a beautifully realised account of the story of King Richard III and his mistress, and really set me on the path I have followed ever since – firmly in love with romantic stories that tend to captivate my imagination.
Caz: I’ve said in the introduction that the bulk of your work seems to have been in the sub-genre of Historical Romance, although I know you narrate in a number of genres (non-fiction, fantasy and women’s fiction, for example). Is there something about that particular type of romantic fiction that particularly appeals to you?
RL: As many listeners will know, I was extremely fortunate to work for Lisa Kleypas on some of her historical romances, and that seriously committed me to the genre. It also gave me an opportunity to start to understand what the audiobook audience wanted from their audio experience. It wasn’t enough to just narrate the story – vocalising the characters was also very important, passion needed to be conveyed in a very real manner …
Caz: At the risk of making you blush, this is one of the things that always stands out for me about your narrations. Somehow, you know exactly what I want to hear from the heroes and heroines I’m listening to!
RL: Well, I’m always delighted when listeners enjoy my interpretation of a story, although I’m mindful at the same time of keeping as close as I can to the author’s intent. But as far as what appeals to me about historicals … among all the classics I studied for exams while at school (Austen, the Brontës, R.D Blackmore), I had also read most of Jean Plaidy’s books during my late teens, and thereafter the majority of Georgette Heyer’s, although I seem to recall some of hers were no longer in print at that time. I found them all incredibly engrossing and loved the amount of detail the authors brought to bear, both in terms of the dialogue for the characters and the vivid descriptive narrative created for them to inhabit. The amount of research these authors engaged in must have been phenomenal.
As a child actress, I was cast as Helen Burns in a 1970 film version of Jane Eyre, which is, to my mind, one of the quintessential romances of all time – and was costumed in totally authentic garb for the majority of the 4 weeks of filming. Not one detail was overlooked, and I understood from that point on how it must have “felt” to wear these clothes, how cold children would have been, how one had to move and walk differently. All these experiences have undoubtedly contributed to my understanding of the women I portray in many of the historical fiction books I narrate today.
It may seem something of an aside, perhaps incidental to some listeners, but one of the joys for me when narrating is to describe clothing, furniture, a garden, a ballroom – because the characters then walk into the scene in my mind’s eye, fully depicted, and then I try to mirror vocally the excitement of, for example, a heroine’s first glimpse of a castle or her new clothes (such as happens in Mary Balogh’s latest novel when the heroine marries a duke) or the delights of a stroll through the very famous Vauxhall Gardens. That has actually led me to investigate some sketches of the Regency and Victorian periods. Authors are, for the most part, astonishingly masterful at researching their genre. I often find that I’m better educated after I finish narrating a novel! The times in which many of the heroes and heroines live come vividly to life as their own stories unfold, and before we arrive at the HEA, we have become well acquainted with dirty streets and the correct way in which to address a servant, not to mention the odd ear trumpet and tying of a cravat!
Caz: I had never really considered that the describing of a setting could have such an effect on your interpretation of characters, but now you mention it, I suppose it could be rather like donning a costume or going onto a set, but you’ve created them in your head!
RL: Yes, I was so fortunate to live near to castles and stately homes growing up; and having visited many in childhood, I had a perfect visual representation to work from. I think those of your readers who live in or have come to Europe on vacation and seen these types of buildings and toured inside them – or around the gardens – will know exactly what I mean.
Caz: All this brings me to your latest project, which is Because of Miss Bridgerton, the first book in Julia Quinn’s new series. You’ve narrated a number of Ms Quinn’s audiobooks in the past – how did you become involved with this one?
RL: I’m very blessed to have a good working relationship with a number of audio publishers, including Harper Collins, for whom, as you have noted, I have recorded several of Julia Quinn’s historical romances. I think her many fans particularly love the humour that she brings to her plot, and that her female characters are always intelligent enough to realise that their male counterparts are the perfect match for them! This latest novel is the first in a series resuming our association with the Bridgerton family, and I gather there are more in the pipeline.
Caz: I know that the process of choosing a narrator for a particular book varies and that often, authors have little or no say in that choice. Do any of the authors whose books you have narrated have a say in that choice?
RL: Certainly from my personal experience, the only authors that I know have a say in casting are usually those who are self-publishing via ACX (such as Courtney Milan) and offering auditions or contacting narrators directly about offering their books. Publishers usually choose the assignments we receive. I narrated a particular series a while back for an author, and then suddenly was not asked to narrate the next book. I noticed several comments from the public about the switch, but it truly wasn’t my choice and is quite frankly not in my hands. Sometimes an author will ask her readers to nominate a narrator, and this was the case with Courtney Milan, who very kindly asked me to start working with her.
Caz: Oh, the Brothers Sinister series is one of my all-time audio favourites. You and she make a great team.
RL: Thank you :) And happily, she’s asked me to narrate her latest series, The Worth Saga.
Caz: Happily for listeners, too. Can you tell us what a typical day is like for you when you’re recording?
RL: I’m one of the few narrators who does not record in a home studio and I’m very lucky that the publishers I have worked with over the past few years are accepting of that. I like having an extra pair of eyes watching and listening to make sure I get all the text correctly recorded. Actually, I find it really interesting that the mistakes I tend to make involve substituting a word with another word that often means something similar! I’m told I’m not alone in doing this though ;) I work until my voice gets tired and frankly, when you consider most narrators work regular hours, and we are essentially doing a one-person show, often vocalising several characters a day, it’s not surprising the vocal chords need a rest .
Caz: I can understand that it must be incredibly demanding. What sort of preparation do you do before you start recording an audiobook?
RL: Before I narrate, I read through the book from beginning to end to understand the scope of the text, the characters and the plot points. I’ve always loved to read and I can find the particular rhythm of a book very quickly, because yes, books do have a certain rhythm to them. When it comes to performance notes, I sometimes make markers on a page just to nudge my memory if I think I might need it. There’s a certain emotional attachment with books that I work on, and saying goodbye when I reach the last page and get to the sign off point can really be a wrench! (I have fallen for several of the leading men too!!).
Caz: I don’t think you’re alone in that – I could probably make a list! But I won’t be mean and ask you to play favourites. Obviously, you read a lot as preparation for your work, but what do you like to read for pleasure?
RL: I have a wide range of interest generally speaking; I’ve always loved historical non-fiction, and as I mentioned previously, romantic fiction, as well as biography, which I find fascinating. I have had many favourite books over the years, a few of which are children’s titles which I ‘handed down’ to my daughters, such as Alison Uttely’s The Country Child, and books by Alan Garner and E.L. Nesbitt.
Caz: I loved Alan Garner’s books when I was younger – and then I remember reading The Weirdstone of Brisingamen to my girls. Such a great book. Finally – I’m asking this for me as much for anyone else! – can you tell us anything about what you’ve got in the pipeline?
RL: I’ve just finished narrating a new book by Mary Balogh, and I’m about to start narrating a novella in Courtney Milan’s new series (always a pleasure), then a new Bess Crawford mystery in the series by Charles Todd. It is one of the greatest joys in being a narrator – I never know what I’ll be offered next!
Caz: You already know I’m a big fan of yours, but I can’t pass up the chance to thank you personally for providing me with so many hours of listening pleasure! And on behalf of AudioGals, thank you for taking the time to chat with me.
RL: It’s been such a pleasure to answer your questions and have a chance to say hello to everyone out there! Thank you so much for inviting me.
Listen to Rosalyn Landor read Because of Miss Bridgerton
Giveaway is closed – thanks!