A Conversation between Grace Callaway, #1 National Bestselling Regency Author of “Her Husband’s Harlot” and audiobook narrator Erin Mallon

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Erin: What was the experience of listening to the Her Husband’s Harlot audio for the first time? This is your first title to be released as an audiobook, right?

Grace: I got tingles all over! It is a very special experience to hear one’s work performed … to literally have life breathed into the words. I have to confess that not only was this my first title to be released in audio format, but also the first audio book I’ve listened to. Given that Her Husband’s Harlot is an erotic Regency romance, I wasn’t sure how the work would come across read aloud. But after I got over blushing at the steamy scenes (gee, did I really write that?), I was truly impressed at how your performance evoked a spectrum of emotional responses, from titillating to humorous to heart-warming.

To return the question, when you first read the book, which scene came alive for you the most? Which one did you think would be the most challenging to perform? And which came to you most readily?

Erin:  The opening scene hooked me in immediately! I love when writers trust themselves and their readers enough to forgo a lot of exposition upfront and instead dive right into juicy conflict, so I was excited to find that on the first page we were already wandering the halls of a brothel with Helena in hot pursuit of her husband.  That opening chapter has so many rich layers for a narrator to explore.  I mean, a disguised woman trapped in a dark closet with her new husband who doesn’t recognize her while they watch a bawdy threesome who don’t realize they’re being watched?  Does it get any more fun than that?

There are several times in HHH when a character chooses to disguise his/her voice.  This was definitely a challenge! I wanted to honor these moments of the story while staying certain that the listener was always hip to the charade (and clear on who was speaking).  This meant keeping the core components of the voices consistent in those situations and yet altering them just enough to convincingly dupe the other characters in the scene.  The moments where Nicholas’s anger and shame cause him to slip into his native accent created similar challenges.

Chris and Rob, the amazing guys who run Brick Shop Audiobooks have the sharpest ears around, so they kept me on track and let me know if I’d missed the mark and needed a do-over.

As for which scenes came easiest, I have to say any and all between Marianne and Helena.  Marianne was such a treat to play!  I found her character to be equal parts love and disdain, and the opposite of Helena in so many ways, that switching between the two roles became a fun little roller coaster ride for me.

Did the characters sound the way you “heard” them in your head while writing them? Were there any surprises?

Grace: I was amazed at how you got the nuances of all the characters. The heroine and hero were exactly how I heard them in my head. No real surprises … which I think was a good thing!

Given that there are quite a few characters in the story, I was also impressed by how unique they all sounded . What was your process for figuring out how you would perform a character?

Erin MallonErin: I find constraints can be a great boost to creativity.  Knowing I only have my voice to work with teaches me to be very specific and intentional with the choices I make.  Though, even without the physicality I rely on in stage work, there are many avenues to explore in creating character in audio books.  There’s pitch, gender, rhythm, dialect, and most importantly the abundance of clues great writers such as yourself give to us narrators.

For central characters like Helena and Nicholas I wanted to create voices that sat easily in my vocal range but even more importantly, voices that were easy on the listeners’ ears.  After all, they’ll be listening to them for a solid 12 hours and 14 minutes!  Once I had the main characters established, I had a great deal of fun figuring out the supporting cast, though the choices were always sparked by the writing itself.  For example, when I was investigating Paul Fines I picked up on a haughty yet lovable air he seems to carry with every word he says, so I felt I could take his voice to more dramatic places and still keep him grounded.

There’s a lot of freedom and fun in the confines of that tiny booth!

You mentioned that the HHH audiobook somehow helped you in writing your next book (this made me very happy to hear). Can you explain what you meant by that?

Grace: I was working through a scene in Her Wanton Wager (the next installment of the Mayfair in Mayhem series) and felt that something in the heroine Percy’s reaction did not ring true. I happened to be reviewing the audio of Her Husband’s Harlot at the same time, and hearing your performance of Percy (a secondary character in that novel) brought home to me one of the traits that I love best about her: her playfulness and the way she doesn’t take herself too seriously. Hearing Percy’s “voice” inspired me to take the scene in a different direction—one that ultimately proved so much fun to write and was authentic to her personality. So thank you!

And from the point of view of a narrator, what draws you to a script? What aspect of a written piece inspires your best performance?

Erin: I think what draws me to want to hang out with friends is the same thing that draws me to want to narrate a book.  Do I want to spend time with these people?  Do I enjoy their company?  Do I want to learn more about them?  For me, falling in love with the characters is a prerequisite to doing great work.  We narrators spend hours (sometimes days) alone in a dark little room, and thanks to the company of your fascinating characters, my days spent working on Her Husband’s Harlot were happy days indeed!

009_rtGrace’s Bio: Grace Callaway writes steamy historical romances set in the Regency and Victorian eras. Her debut manuscript, Her Husband’s Harlot, was a 2010 Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® Finalist and a #1 National Regency Bestseller.

Outside of writing, she holds a doctorate from the University of Michigan and practices clinical psychology in a medical setting. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family and has a passion for hiking, cooking, and all things BBC.

Buy: Her Husband’s Harlot (Mayhem in Mayfair #1) [ebook], [audiobook]

GIVEAWAY: 1 copy of Grace’s e-book is up for grabs! Open to all. Enter by leaving a comment – why do you love audiobooks? Last day to enter is Dec 23rd, 2012.

Review: The Dark Desires of the Druids 1: Murder and Magick by Isabel Roman

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Mmm-mmm delicious. I love the plot to this novel, which looks like it will drive the second in the series. I also love the romantic conflict- it’s simply too yummy. Roman certainly has a way with storytelling, twisting and weaving different threads into one cohesive whole. I listened to the audio version of this book and was tempted more than once to click double speed just so I could devour this novel faster. Of course, I didn’t, that would take out half of the fun. Medea Carter Beckett is truly the best narrator Ravenous could have found for the job.

Magickers are being hunted. In the age of the English witch hunts, known as the Great Purification, one man rises above the rest to the head of the assault. Nobody is safe while Corwin continues to breathe. He is clever and charismatic, wooing people to his viewpoint. A bill is in parliament and if the Magickers are to have any hope at all for survival it must pass.

Malcolm Wargrave, earl of Preston, is on the fence. He is neutral and has not taken a stance, either agreement or disagreement to Corwin’s speeches. He is Lady Raven Drake’s lover. They started their affair almost immediately after their mutual friend’s house party began. She was a virgin when they met, and while she gave him her virginity she could never be his as she belonged to another. That and because she kept a secret from Malcolm.

Gareth, Viscount Moore, is Raven’s intended. They are engaged for several purposes. Not only were they well matched as both were Master Magickers, but they also stood as the only defense for their people. As the heirs to two of the very last powerful lines of Magickers, their alliance would create a new line of Masters. Their children would be powerful. United in marriage, their union would be a beacon of hope to their people.

Raven will face the toughest decision of her young life – will she give into her heart or into duty?

Rating: 5 Stars

Buy the audio version here.

Review: Maestro’s Butterfly by Rhonda Leigh Jones

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Listening to the Maestro’s Butterfly is an experience that will leave you flushed and begging for more. You’re in luck too because there are two more books after this! Rebecca Rogers is a truly phenomenal narrator. Her character voices are a treat and she’s a real actress. Quivering sighs, harsh words, moans, groans, she does them all without ever breaking form. Rogers draws you into Jones’ secret world of vampires and you can not escape… just like Miranda you are trapped, captivated and set a fire.

Jones’ mythology is unique. Her vampires have heartbeats, never get sick, can’t reproduce, and fangs that extend. The feeders once bitten become the perfect meals, producing more blood, become slightly stronger, and live longer younger. Holding one’s breath even ruins the flavor of blood. To be taken by a vampire is to know the true meaning of sex as they love to combine feeding with intercourse.

In the Maestro’s Butterfly, Rhonda Leigh Jones sets a sexy stage and does not fail to deliver. If you’re into dominant/submissive power plays, vampires, and kinky sex you will love this story. There are elements of S&M, including whipping, public/stage sex, voyeurism, sex with multiple partners (not at the same time unless you count in sync with watching others), and anal sex. Very hot!

Miranda wants to be dominated. She wants to include fear, surrender, and the unknown in the bedroom. She longs for it and is afraid of her desires. Her dreams involve running down darkened streets and being caught and forced upon by the mysterious hunter. In her day life she’s a musician and with a lucky break gets Claudio du Fresne to tutor her for half price. One night after a performance of his, he invites her back to his place and along the way they strike a bet. He will be the partner she has always dreamed of and if at the end of 30 days he will make her his forever… if not she will allowed to leave and he will continued to tutor her at the prearranged deal.

But there is a darker side to this story. Miranda is unaware of Claudio being a vampire. That’s not all… in addition Claudio has struck another bet, this time with his brother, Victoire “Jack” du Fresne. If at the end of 30 days Miranda stays with Claudio, Jack will pay for Claudio quarter of a million dollar performance piece. If however, she bolts like Jack suspects, Miranda will belong to Jack… whether she wants to be or not.

Rating: ★★★★½

Get the audio version here.

Special Features at Love Romance Passion

lrp2It has come to my attention that some readers of Love Romance Passion are unaware of certain features here. In case you also were unawares, I have compiled and shared them below.

Book Reviews:

You have the standard book reviews, but did you know that Love Romance Passion provides a space for guest reviews and advance review copies? You can submit your book reviews directly to me or through the submission form. Authors and publicists promoting review copies can email me at loverompass@gmail.com with an inquiry. Learn more about review requests and Love Romance Passion’s policies under advertising.

Movie Reviews:

Occasionally, I review movies. I tend to share the newest viewings, which can mean current theatrical releases. Just as I can’t read all the romance books out there, I can’t watch all the romantic movies. Readers are welcome to share their movie opinions through the submission form outlined earlier.

Interviews:

There are several types of interviews at Love Romance Passion. The first is the author interview, which you see the most of around here. Another form of the author interview is the Kiss and Tell blog series. Any romance or erotica author may submit an article to it by emailing me. Lastly there are the Between the Sheets interviews with professionals related to the romance industry, but aren’t necessarily authors. So far Love Romance Passion has featured model and audio book narrator interviews; we would love to have you too!

Guest Bloggers:

Many guest bloggers here at Love Romance Passion are authors. I love having them here and I hope you do as well. I am always looking for guest bloggers, and you don’t have to be an author to contribute.

Carnivals:

Carnivals are a newer feature. They come out every Sunday. I have three in rotation right now to which bloggers can submit related articles. They are: love of movies, author love , and romancing the novel. Currently offline as interest seemed to be small.

Reader Highlights:

LRP highlights readers every Sunday. They are bloggers, commenters, guest reviewers, and more. Check them out and learn some fun and cool things these ladies love about their romance.

Forum:

Love Romance Passion also has a forum for readers, authors, and bloggers. This tucked away feature deserves some attention! You can register here. Currently offline as interest seemed to be small.

Book Store:

This is an ebay run book store that helps readers find romance books in print and audio format. It’s also a great way to contribute a little towards the running of this site.

LRP’s Best:

LRP’s Best is where I pull from regular circulation, the blog posts I find most interesting and fun to share with new comers and regulars.

On Youtube:

Love Romance Passion’s Youtube channel. I hope to use this feature to share with everyone videos from guest bloggers, authors, readers, and more. If you make a video and want it to appear on LRP’s channel upload file to http://www.mediafire.com/ and email me the link.

On Twitter:

I am on twitter. I share links to contests and articles I am reading and enjoying from other blogs. You can find me at reviewromance.

On Facebook:

Love Romance Passion is on Facebook twice. First as a fan page and second as a Network blog.

10 Reasons Why I Can’t Read Georgette Heyer

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By Zarabeth, guest blogger

I know a lot of people like Georgette Heyer and this post isn’t meant to step on your toes in any way if you do, but I really can’t read her! I am a huge fan of historical romance novels and was excited to try the genuine article. I tried, I really did, but she’s not for me and here’s why:

  1. The Language. I can’t read Regency speak, it’s not only another time period it reads like another language!
  2. The Diction. Not only do I need a Regency dictionary, I need an Oxford-English dictionary to get through the book! Talk about over my head. I would read and re-read, get frustrated with myself, the book, and the story. I put it down and vow never to force myself through another novel.
  3. The Turns of Phrase. Thief Cant, Dandy Cant… I cant, cant, can’t! Can you say yikes?!
  4. The Dialogue. What on earth are the characters saying? Really?
  5. The Format. Why is all the dialogue ending in exclamation points!!!!!
  6. The Descriptions. Down to the tie of the cravat and elegantly style coiffure… honestly who knows what they look like?
  7. The Historical Accuracy. The difference between Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer is that Austen transcends Regency and becomes universal. Heyer is so wrapped up in Regency she can never leave it.
  8. The Writing Style. Is it me or does Heyer read like narrator omniscient? A plot twist (and I use that word very lightly) occurs and I know all to well where it’s going.
  9. The Manners. I thought I liked Regency manners, but honestly in a Heyer all I want is for them to shake it up a little. So regimented.
  10. Wasted space. Side characters get way too much time to talk and dither about. I want more focus on the main characters and their love story!

I think it is simply time to walk away, without the disappointment and state that I am just not smart enough to read her! I will stick with my guilty pleasures, Thank You!

P.S. Stay tuned, in a few days Keira will be posting her differing opinion in 10 Reasons to Love Georgette Heyer.

How do you feel about Georgett Heyer romances?

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Between the Sheets with Rebecca Rogers, Narrator of Maestro’s Butterfly

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Between the Sheets is a play on words, not only referring to sex and the bedsheets but also to the pages of a book. This section of the blog is dedicated to going beyond the printed page to learn more about the industry, the parts usually forgotten by the time the product hits the shelves. Today’s special guest is Rebecca Rogers, the narrator of The Maestro’s Butterfly, to talk about audio books… and more specifically erotica audio books.

How did you get started in book narration?

My family and I own a Renaissance Festival in Washington State. One of our vendors asked me if I had ever thought about recording audio books. I told her that it was a dream of mine. She happened to be one of the cover artists for a local audio book company and was able to get me an audition!

What was the first book you narrated?

My first book was Bound To Die by Brian Lutterman.

What’s your favorite part about narrating?

bedsheetsI love performing and storytelling. Making a story come alive is like magic!

In your opinion, what is the hardest aspect of the whole narration process?

The most challenging aspect for me is doing the author justice. Not having direct contact with most authors, I have to use my best judgment when developing a character’s voice.

Did you feel strange narrating erotica?

No, I didn’t feel strange at all! It was new territory for me, admittedly, but I had a lot of fun with it. I also wanted to sound genuine. It was a challenge that quite often had me laughing!

What do you do to prep for a new narration?

Research is vital. Most importantly I need to KNOW the characters. I try to nail it the first take to minimize corrections. In order to do this I need to know my pronunciations, know when a character has an accent and be familiar with the setting.

Tell us about the narrating process after prep!

Most recently my process has been relatively solitary. I come to the studio with my water and apple slices having prepared several chapters for recording. I act as my own engineer, punching and rolling when I make a mistake. When my session is done I load my files onto a hard drive for my engineer. Once the engineer has listened and we’ve made any corrections we call it a wrap!

I really enjoyed your rendition of Maestro’s Butterfly, how did you decide on the character voices?

Thank you! Maestro’s Butterfly was especially fun for me. Vampires have intrigued me for many years. I pulled some inspiration from Anne Rice’s vampire Lestat who was also French and had a vicious side. I also enjoyed playing with lead characters who were so diametrically opposed to each other; strong/male/foreign/exotic vs. lost/feminine/naive/southern. Such fun!

Besides Maestro’s Butterfly what other books have you done, either for Ravenous Romance or other publishers?

For Ravenous Romance I have read The Brotherhood: To Slay or to Lay by Elizabeth Miette, Haunted Seduction by Morgan James and Destiny’s Jewel by Rachel Kenley. With Blackstone Audio I have read Nancy Drew Girl Detective: Framed by Carolyn Keene, Nancy Drew Girl Detective: Dressed to Steal by Carolyn Keene, The Shiloh Renewal by Joan Leslie Woodruff, Foul Play by Tori Carrington, and many others.

And finally, why should people listen to audio books?

Audio books offer another level on which authors can reach their readers. Audio books are an exciting way to “hear” your favorite characters come to life. They bring you closer to the work.

Thank you so much Rebecca! It’s been a pleasure to listen and to talk with you!

Photo Credits: Frederic della Faille

Get into Bed with Rhonda Leigh Jones (Author Interview)

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Today’s intimate interview is with Rhonda Leigh Jones, the author of Maestro’s Butterfly, which was reviewed the other day. I’m excited to share her with you today as we’re going to be discussing audio books, epublishing, her books, writing and more!

Q: I have just finished listening to Maestro’s Butterfly on audio and it was wonderful. What was your inspiration for the book?

A: First of all, thank you for listening, and for having such kind things to say. For me, characters usually come before story, and so I was aware of Claudio for some time before I began to write MB. I didn’t know his name at first; I just had a face and the hint of personality. That actually came from a minor character in a movie I’d watched.

Q: Have you had the chance to hear your audio book? How did you feel hearing your writing the first time?

A: It was both thrilling and painful! Thrilling because Rebecca did such a wonderful job. I really wasn’t expecting French accents and the whole nine yards, and so it was a great pleasure to hear someone “act” my story. But hearing her say some of the things I’d written made me blush terribly. I kept putting my hands over my ears and saying, “No, turn it off; turn it off!” And then, “Turn it back on!” I can’t believe I write these things, lol.

Q: What do you think of your narrator and the voices? Did she give you chills? My favorite voice was that of Claudio. Shiver. Grin.

A: Yes, it’s pretty amazing that, on one level, you hear this woman reading the part, and on another level, you hear his voice, at the same time. I think she did a great job with Claudio. He was so much fun to write. If I have a character that could be considered my “Lestat,” meaning that I love him as much as Anne Rice obviously loved Lestat, then that would be Claudio. He’s such a beast, lol. There is an interview with him on my blog by the way, and another with Chloe.

Q: Do you think readers get more out of the audio version than they do in the print?

A: I think it depends on the reader. And I think it’s hard for the writer to say, because I’m so close to the material. I personally get a lot out of the audio version because I’ve been looking at this book in print for years, and I’m fairly sick of seeing the words. But when it comes to me in a different format, it’s like experiencing the story for the first time. For the first time, I can really step back and see – or hear, rather – what I did. I’m very glad there is an audio version because I know that there are plenty of people who would rather experience books that way. And who knows? Maybe some readers will like the story so much they have to experience it both ways.

Q: Do you prefer listening to or reading erotica?

A: I would rather read it because, honestly, I tend to skip a lot. I’m a very tough customer, and easily bored. Especially when it comes to sex, because my buttons are hard to reach. And I’m a very visual person. And if I’m terribly interested in a story, I’ll devour it quickly, which you can’t do with audio.

Q: Can you share a bit about Maestro’s Apprentice and Maestro’s Maker? What order should your books be read or does it matter?

A: Maker is the second in the series, but it’s actually the prequel. It’s the story of how Claudio became a vampire, and it’s set at the beginning of the French Revolution. “Claudio” is actually an Italian name, so we see how he got that. If you look beyond Claudio’s arrogance and his frightening qualities, you’ll see that he really is a very loyal man who is very concerned with family. Maker goes into that, and also reveals some of the reasons why that is true. And there is another person in the book that Butterfly readers will know. Apprentice takes place right after Butterfly, and focuses more on Adam, although it’s really more about one of the feeders. All of these books are really about how Claudio affected other people. So, though he’s the series main character, the books have their own main characters-the women he has affected.

Q: Of the three works, which is your personal favorite and why?

A: Easy! Maestro’s Butterfly, because it was the first. It was the work that really taught me how to write a novel. I suffered terribly while writing it because I wasn’t sure at first what the story was, but Claudio’s presence was so strong I couldn’t stop tinkering with it. It was a very romantic time of my life. I spent many late nights working for my vampire muse. And it led to my meeting one of my best friends, who is also a writer with a sexy vampire. We would both be up working late, and so ended up emailing and supporting each other quite a lot.

Q: I sort of have this mental picture of Claudio in my head and you mentioned earlier that he was inspired by a minor character… so dish if he were played in a movie by an actor, who would it be?

stephen-rea

A: LOL! Stephen Rea, because he looks like Rea’s Santiago in Interview With the Vampire. Except that was 20 years ago, so Rea is a bit older now, so we’d have to get someone younger. But Victoire would definitely have to be played by Adrien Brody, lol.

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Q: Tell us a little about your experience with Ravenous Romance and epublishing. How are you finding the whole affair?

A: That would be so much easier to answer if I had something to compare it to! They’ve been very good about keeping in touch and troubleshooting things and listening to me. I know that friends who are published by traditional publishers have communication issues that I don’t have. And if a mistake is made, it’s very easy for Ravenous to fix it. They seem very enthusiastic about what they’re doing. In addition, I think they’re on the cutting edge, because the industry is changing, thanks to the alternatives that technology gives us and the shifting economy. I really like the idea of epublishing for various reasons. It’s greener. It’s convenient. You can have so many more books this way. So I’ve been happy with the experience. And I think the name is perfect, since my first series happens to be about vampires!

Q: What do you think makes a great [written] bedroom scene?

A: I’m glad you asked me this, because almost everybody does it wrong. A great sex scene is all about the conversation. It isn’t enough to tell readers who is doing what to whom. Let’s face it: Sex is basically “insert Tab A into Slot B.” The rest is foreplay and there are only so many variations. Once you see where a scene is going, physically, you don’t need to read the rest. However, if the scene is about how and why this or that is done, then you have a conversation. If you stress the conversation, then you have as many unique scenes as you want to write. The conversation of sex is going to be different at different times, even with the same couple. The actions should show mood, power structure, and whatever else is going on in the person’s mind.

For instance, think about blow jobs and power. If the dominant male demands that his submissive female give him a blow job and she complies happily, that is one story. But what if she is angry with him? That should come out in the scene. What if it is a dominant female giving her submissive male a blow job? What if she is angry with him? See how many different scenes you have? And all with the same act. Nuance is everything.

Q: Got any pet peeves when it comes to romance or writing?

A: I hate HEAs. I do. I like a certain realism in writing and I don’t want things tied up neatly at the end. It seems silly to me. So I write Happy For Nows. I like to have the suggestion of motion present, even at the very end. I prefer grit and darkness, which is why I write about things like punishment. Real corporal punishment is something you will see in every erotica story I ever write. As far as writing in general goes, I don’t like it when authors get so happy about what they can do with words that they forget to tell a good story. If you must sacrifice prose or story, sacrifice prose.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

A: I can’t think of anything at the moment, but something may come later.

Thanks again. :D

Rj

It was a pleasure to talk with you Rhonda! Be sure to check out Rhonda’s blog at http://rhondaleigherotica.blogspot.com.

You can buy the audio version of Maestro’s Butterfly here.