*Name: JD Kelly
*Tell us a bit about yourself: This is always a tough question to answer. I am a full-time voice actor, however, I’m also the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for a rock and blues band, as well as well as writing and recording my own solo music.
When I’m not using my voice for singing or acting, I try to share as much as possible on my YouTube channel, where I play Video Games and go to conventions across the country. See my answer to the ‘silly fact’ question below for one of my achievements!
Having my own YouTube channel also gives me the opportunity to film and edit video, as well as photography. I love meeting people in cosplay at conventions to create montage videos, I’ve also filmed music videos for bands and solo artists too.
One of my more recent interests is running, I’d never considered myself a runner before but now I’ve completed two half marathons (one was at Disneyland Paris) I think it’s safe to call myself a runner. In all honesty, I use it as a great way to get out into the countryside, a change from my recording studio!
How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? Before becoming a full-time voice actor, I worked in the industry part-time working on radio productions and audio plays. A friend of mine actually runs a production company so after working with them on a couple of small projects and really enjoying it I discovered ACX/Audible. I started to complete short projects in my spare time and immediately loved it, I quickly realised I wanted this to be my full-time career.
Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? I really enjoyed ‘Norse Mythology by Matt Clayton’ it was fun finding out about the myths and legends. ‘Summary of “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor’ was great too as Shawn Achors TED Talk was a huge influence on me, his book on positive psychology is fascinating!
But I am really looking forward to the next chapter of ‘The Fall Of Centuria by James A. Harris’ it was great to do the first book in this fantasy series!
Do you have a preferred genre? Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? I love narrating Fantasy novels, it’s a genre I read often. Sci-Fi is great too but I guess because the first book I really got into was The Hobbit, fantasy novels have kind of stuck with me.
I don’t produce erotic fiction, I don’t mind some raunchy romance tales but, when it gets too explicit, I can’t keep a straight face.
What are you working on at present/Just finished? I’m currently working on Alice In Wonderland and the third book in a series called 101 SNES Facts!
I have just completed Cubby and the Beanstalk an adorable kids book! (see links below)
*Tell us about your process for narrating? (Be as elaborate as you like.) I’m very lucky that I have a recording studio set up home so it makes it really easy for me to get stuck into a project. The process begins with my audition, I look for roles that interest me, books about a subject I’m interested in and other projects in genres I’ve perhaps not worked in before, I love to challenge myself.
The audition is usually a few lines or the first 5 minutes of a longer project – this is usually enough to give me some insight into the writing style so I can adapt my tone as needed. I sometimes record a couple of versions so the end producer or author has some choice.
Once hired, I then like to get some direction from the client, writers often have a tone of voice in mind for a character and it’s important to me that I stay true to that. This is also a great time to confirm any unusual pronunciations or dialects – which happens quite often in fantasy books!
Once I’ve recorded everything, I then use various programmes to edit my takes and upload them as a final audio file.
What aspects do you find most enjoyable? The thing I find most enjoyable is becoming the character, it keeps my job diverse and interesting. One day I can be playing the role of a Military Commander, and the next a Welsh Polar Bear cub! I enjoy portraying these different characters, knowing that the end listener will use this to help paint the images in their mind while they listen to the books.
Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? This really depends on the project and the length of time involved. Royalty shares mean I get paid after the work is completed, when the project makes money. This can work well for shorter projects where I can complete the work fairly quickly, but for longer projects, I do charge a ‘per finished hour’ rate.
Do you listen to audiobooks? Sometimes for non-fiction I’ll listen to an audiobook, but I can’t quit the written word when it comes to fiction. I suppose I like to hear the voices in my head using my imagination.
*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? I think it is a storytelling media that will continue to become more popular as time goes on.
However, do I think that physical books (Digital too) will become extinct? Not really, I think we will find some kind of equilibrium.
Why do you think audiobooks are becoming so popular? With media/work taking up so much of people’s time these days, and people looking for ways to continue learning and being told stories I think it allows people escapism and learning on the move. During travel, in the bath and at night before bed seem to be good moments for most people.
Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? The first audiobook I owned was The Hobbit, I had it on cassette tape when I was about 8 years old, I remember getting it when I was living in America and I listened to it countless times. I’m not sure where the cassette is now, however, I recently went on holiday to stay in some hobbit huts in the UK and downloaded The Hobbit on iTunes – listening to it while sitting next to the fire brought back some great memories from my childhood.
If you are an author, do you produce your own audiobooks or do you prefer to look for an independent narrator? Why have you made this choice? I am not an author…yet. But I think in the future it would depend on the project, and if my voice would be suitable. I hope that I have enough humility to keep perspective and make a good casting call on whether my voice is right or not.
Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) Oh definitely, it’s a system that has allowed me to forge a career out of a hobby!
Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? Only one I can think of, the script I had received was not that well suited to audio production, so I just did the best I could with it. It is extremely rare that this happens but sometimes you just have to make the best of a script you are given.
Each difficult project you get teaches you something new, lets you know what your strengths and weaknesses are and allows you to get better!
Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I have held a Guiness World Record for the Longest Marathon Time Playing Minecraft, I live-streamed it on my YouTube Channel raising over £2500 for Cancer Research UK!
Where can we learn more about you?
Social Media links:
Cubby and the Beanstalk is available at the following retailers.
Barnes & Noble:
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Cubby-Beanstalk-Victoria-Zigler/1512360104/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/d/Books/Cubby-Beanstalk-Victoria-Zigler/1512360104
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/d/Books/Cubby-Beanstalk-Victoria-Zigler/1512360104/
The Book Depository:
Cover art atatched.
2 thoughts on “Audiobook Narrator Interview – JD Kelly and Spotlight for Cubby and the Beanstalk”
Great interview, JD!
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