Creative, talented and versatile, Kirby has received a number of Audio File Magazine’s Earphone awards for excellence in narration and has had many titles nominated for the prestigious Audie Award. He recently received the highest honor bestowed by the American Library Association for young adult audiobooks - The Odyssey Award. (http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/odysseyaward)
He has narrated over a hundred titles including: Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, Black Swan Green, Breathers and The Genius. He is known to deliver raw emotion without drawing attention to the performance itself. Kirby is considered one of the finest narrators working today.
Written by: Douglas Hulick • Read by: Kirby Heyborne
Drothe is a "nose," an information gatherer, for the criminal masterminds who run the city. He earns extra money on the side, running small con jobs for himself. When he acquires a rare, magical book in one of his cons, all manner of very bad people come after the book, and after Drothe. Kirby Heyborne seems to have taken his inspiration from 1930s gangster movies. His thieves speak with steely resolve, and his crime lords may have some Edward G. Robinson in their DNA. His performance improves upon an already good book a caper about a smart thief is read by a true professional. Listeners will root for this thief--as long as he's portrayed by Heyborne. G.D.
Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine
Tantor Media • Fantasy • 15.5 hrs. • Unabridged • ©2011
By Alexander Nazaryan
"Gone Girl," Gillian Flynn: The year's best thriller is capably narrated in tag-team fashion by Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne.
by Zack Smith, guest blogger for Pop Candy.
I got sucked in big-time this past summer by Gillian Flynn's nail-biting thriller Gone Girl, the tale of a wife who disappears in a marriage that's gone very wrong. Listen to a sample, click here.
To give myself something to do at the gym (and keep myself from flipping to the end), I downloaded the audiobook version from Audible. The result literally kept me up, and got me thinking – what's it like to create an audiobook? I caught up with the actors who brought Nick and Amy Dunne's marriage to life, Kirby Heyborne and Julia Whelan, to found out about the hard work and challenges that come with putting an audiobook together.
Q: Gone Girl the book is a huge hit, and the audiobook has been a big seller on Audible. What was it like to work on this project? What was your initial reaction to reading the book?
A: Kirby: I was drawn in immediately to this story. On the first page, Nick fantasizes about opening Amy's skull so he can sift through her thoughts. The question, "What are you thinking Amy?" set up Nick perfectly. I knew then where Nick was coming from and I tapped into the part of me that marvels at the wonders of women. They are a delicate, important, and confusing species. Case in point – how does Gillian Flynn know so intimately the thoughts, feelings, and insecurities of men like Nick and me?
A: Julia: My initial reaction to reading the book was that I couldn't believe how lucky I was that producer Kelly Gildea had given it to me. I couldn't wait to get into the studio. Also, I was a bit crunched for time when I sat down to prep it, so the plan was to annotate and prep my chapters and skim Kirby's, but that proved impossible. I was hooked from the beginning.
Q: What's the process of creating an audiobook like?
A: Julia: When something is as well written as Gone Girl, it almost makes it harder to narrate, because you wonder what you could possibly add to the telling. But, as difficult as it is for a narrator, I think it's harder on the author. I write myself, and I can't imagine anyone else reading my work out loud. Some authors get freaked out by it, and understandably.
A: Kirby: Once I receive the manuscript, I spend a few days reading and taking notes on characters and tone. Then I go into the studio and dive into the author's world. The days are long and physically and emotionally exhausting.
Q: Do you find people recognizing your voices from audiobooks when you're doing something like trying to order pizza or calling tech support, you know, "I know that voice from somewhere...?"
A: Julia: An old college classmate contacted me after his mom, who loves crime fiction and especially Gillian Flynn, gave him the audiobook. He was shocked to hear my voice, because he didn't even know I had started doing this job. But no, no one "on the street," per se, has recognized me.
A: Kirby: My wife is the only one who recognizes my voice when I call. It might be because of caller ID though…
Q: What was it like being inside the twisted heads of Nick and Amy? What's really interesting to me about this as an audiobook is that you have these two first-person narratives that are both very much filtered through what the characters are telling us and aren't telling us, and that has to be subtly hinted at through your performances.
A: Kirby: Nick is the audience's gateway to the story. People relate to him. I found myself sympathizing with Nick a lot. He's a good guy. I hated Amy. As I was reading, I kept telling my wife all the evil and selfish things Amy did, and we hated her together. As I'm typing this, I realize that Nick, like Amy, was flawed and selfish in some ways too. But, because I voiced him, I have a connection to him and a need to defend him.
A: Julia: That personal-filter is what's brilliant about the book. It takes the old Catcher in the Rye model of the "unreliable narrator" and doubles it. As a reader, your alliance with Amy shifts to Nick at the beginning of the "Boy Meets Girl" section. So playing Amy was actually playing two different characters: Diary Amy and the real Amy
Q: What's genius about her character is that her opinions make complete sense. Her intelligence and wit make her craziness even more terrifying. I've actually had that "cool girl" discussion with my friends, about women becoming what men want and then resenting them for not seeing that they were lying the whole time.There're also chapters where you have to do the voices of each other's characters. What were the biggest challenges in that?
A: Julia: Kirby recorded first, so he set the tone of the overlapping characters. But, he's a guy! Kirby's women, though high for him, were still too low for me. So I tried to contact Kirby's cadences and rhythms. But at a certain point you have to say, "You know what? These are two different people – Nick and Amy – with two different perspectives on each character. It makes sense that the satellite characters would sound different to each of them." That's where 1st person narration becomes a saving grace.
A: Kirby: I listened to some of Julia's other work to see how her voice worked. Also, I'm not as pretty as Julia. That was the biggest challenge to overcome.
Q: Julia, how did you get into audiobooks, and what are some projects you're currently working on? Also, I'm curious if being an actress at such a young age made it easier to relate to Amy's experiences as "Amazing Amy."
A: Julia: I got into audiobooks entirely by accident. I went to Middlebury College and one of my best college friend's mothers is a well-respected audiobook director at Brilliance. Knowing my acting background, and that I was getting my degree in English and Creative Writing, she asked me if I would submit a demo. I knew nothing about the industry, hadn't listened to an audiobook in my entire life. But, when I returned to LA after graduation, the business I left was very different from the business I returned to. I hadn't been gone that long, I looked pretty much the same, and I didn't have a sexy reason for having taken time off. I think it would have been easier to kickstart my career had I gone to rehab instead of college. So, while finding my way back into acting, I decided to make the audiobook demo. Shortly thereafter, the audiobooks started snowballing. After finding this new creative outlet (and enjoying it immensely), I finally poked my head up about a year ago, and gave on-camera acting a try again. I picked up some great guest spots, did a really fun role in a Hallmark movie called The Confession (airing in January), and am working on some writing projects of my own. I love acting, but to creatively combine it with doing audiobooks is wonderfully new and exciting. In audiobooks, there is no limitation on what you can play. I've read an African American Hoodoo-healer grandfather before… I don't see myself getting to do that on-camera anytime soon.
Q: Anything else you want to talk about that we haven't discussed yet, or would like to say to our readers?
A: Kirby: Audiobooks are awesome! The level of professionalism and performance amazes me. I'm fortunate to be a part of this amazing world.
A: Kirby: Discover the joy of audiobooks. It's its own medium, and I love it.
Read Q&A Interview on USA Today: Click here!
Odyssey Award Rocks the House at ALA 2012!
Kirby Heyborne’s ode to librarians closed the amazing Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production celebration at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in Anaheim....
The Odyssey Award-winning title "Rotters" closed the program, with Kelly Gildea, executive producer of Rotters speaking about the process of creating the audiobook and Rotters author Dan Kraus in the front row. The narrator of Rotters, Kirby Heyborne, took the microphone for an astonding reading from the title, then closed the program with his guitar & vocal salute to librarians. Read entire post, CLICK HERE.
Kirby is invited to attend and particpate in the American Libarary Association (ALA) 2012 Annual Conference.
May 18, 2012 - Kirby chats with Kat on BTR about his voice work on audiobooks. You can listen to the podcast here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/katholmes1212/2012/05/18/tw-voices-one-pen
THE BEGINNER'S GOODBYE - Author: Anne Tyler
A new novel by Anne Tyler is always a reason to celebrate. As always, her exploration of everyday tragedy and the way people learn to cope with loss is, at times, comic, wise, and heartbreaking. Narrator Kirby Heyborne inhabits the forlorn Aaron and his dead wife, Dorothy, with a searing depiction of middle-class America and the drama of how a single random act can change everything. Heyborne’s pacing of the dialogue between the main characters is realistic and emotionally engaging. The pain of Aaron’s grief penetrates Heyborne’s performance. The novel imparts the wisdom we all gain through loss, and Heyborne’s narration resonates with the listener long after the last words are spoken. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2012, Portland, Maine [Published: APRIL 2012] Read review on AudioFile Magazine.
Kirby Garners 3 AudioFile Earphones Awards!
Rotters written by: Daniel Kraus
Kirby Heyborne expertly plumbs the depths of Joey's despair and growing fascination with the grotesque trappings of his new occupation. He relentlessly draws the listener into the ghastly details of the grave while creating distinctive, bone-chilling voices for Harnett, the evil Boggs, and the community of diggers in this shocking YA novel.
Stay Awake written by critically acclaimed novelist, Dan Chaon
Kirby Heyborne Earns AudioFile Earphones Award for Narration of STAY AWAKE: Stories by critically acclaimed novelist, Dan Chaon. "This is one of those books that is more effective in audiobook form because of its first-rate narration—this one by Kirby Heyborne. He employs a calm, measured delivery to elicit that pleasurable queasy feeling in the pit of the stomach."
Almost Perfect by: Brian Katcher
Kirby Heyborne’s performance of ALMOST PERFECT is perfect. He nails each character and delivers raw emotion without drawing attention to the performance itself....Heyborne voices Logan’s feelings of betrayal, and near-violent revulsion, with hair-raising believability.
Jan 2012 -- "The Oscars of Audiobooks"--
The 2012 Odyssey Award for the best audiobook for children and/or young adults is won by ROTTERS by Daniel Kraus, read by Kirby Heyborne, directed by Jessica Kaye, and produced by Kelly Gildea, published last April by Audio’s Listening Library imprint. The prize is given jointly by ALA’s Association for Library Service to Children and the Young Adult Library Services Association. "Kraus's excellent text is complemented by Kirby Heyborne's expert narration that takes this terrific tale to a whole new level." (Phyllis Levy Mandell -School Libary Journal, January 23, 2012)