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.
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.
A fan narrates one of his author heroes
Posted on September 15, 2018 by AudioFile Editors
Kirby Heyborne loves Ray Bradbury, and his enthusiasm about narrating A MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY is infectious. Listen as he shares insights into and excitement over this collection of captivating short stories.
“Ray’s at his best in this collection.”—Narrator Kirby Heyborne
A MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY: And Other Stories
by Ray Bradbury, read by Kirby Heyborne
Recorded Books AudioFile Earphones Award
Strange forgotten towns, attics that transport one back in time, mystical visitors in the night—narrator Kirby Heyborne takes listeners through these subtly strange tales with the steady grace and tempo of a pro. Heyborne presses his own unique stamp into the words of master storyteller Ray Bradbury as everyday life collides with magic and surrealism.
Now Hear This: Kirby Heyborne. Written By: Joyce Saricks (author). First published May 15, 2018 (Booklist).
Acclaimed for his youthful voice and the skill with which he reflects emotions and channels authentic characters, Kirby Heyborne makes magic in the audiobooks he narrates.
100 Sideways Miles. By Andrew Smith. 2015. 7hr. Tantor, CD, $34 (9781494514099). Gr. 9–12.
Finn Easton’s life has been marred by two events: the freak childhood accident that killed his mother and caused his epileptic seizures and his father using him as the model for his cult sf novel. In a performance as intense and emotional as it is humorous, Heyborne explores Finn’s coming-of-age story, powerfully depicting memorable characters.
The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding. By Alexandra Bracken. 2017. 10hr. Recorded Books, CD, $87.75 (9781501962387). Gr. 4–7.
Unexceptional Prosper Redding seems to be a misfit in his powerful family until he discovers that he is host to an ancient demon, one with revenge on all Reddings on its twisted mind. Heyborne creates spot-on voices for the varied cast and highlights the chuckle-aloud humor as well as the hold-your-breath suspense.
Four-Four-Two. By Dean Hughes. 2016. 7hr. Recorded Books, CD, $66.75 (9781501926815). Gr. 7–10.
Heyborne’s reverent narration honors Hughes’ novel and the courageous Japanese Americans of the highly decorated 442nd Infantry Regiment Combat Team as he follows two Japanese American friends in WWII. He convincingly conveys all the emotions the young men experience: fear, tension, tenderness, mercy, anxiety, and courage.
Full of Beans. By Jennifer L. Holm. 2016. 3.5hr. Listening Library, CD, $27 (9780735207561). Gr. 3–6.
During the height of the Depression in Key West, Florida, 10-year-old Beans Curry will do just about anything to help his impoverished family. Heyborne’s engaging tenor makes the lively dialogue among members of Curry’s “Keepsies” gang both youthful and genuine with memorable and authentic voices.
Scowler. By Daniel Kraus. 2013. 11.5hr. Listening Library, CD, $45 (9780385368377). Gr. 9–12.
In this Odyssey Award–winning recording featuring a depraved father who escapes prison and returns to torment his family, Heyborne’s impassioned reading keeps the dark story in check as his tones ebb and flow with the characters’ emotions. Growling, yelling, and whispering his way through this disturbing and unsettling novel, Heyborne pulls off another winning performance.
Skink—No Surrender. By Carl Hiaasen. 2014. 8hr. Listening Library, CD, $40 (9780804166904). Gr. 7–10.
This hilarious ecothriller explodes with humor as Skink, Florida’s ex-governor and resident ecoterrorist, bursts out of the sand where he’s been hiding to catch turtle-egg poachers. Luckily for young Richard Sloan, Skink is also available for other services, like helping find Richard’s missing cousin. Heyborne’s narration perfectly captures the zany, grisly humor required to convey Hiaasen’s novel.
I love everything about audiobooks: the stories, characters, authors, producers, publishers, and the listeners. Thank you to those who like hearing me tell a story. I am honored and blessed.
The Ethan I was Before by Ali Standish Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © "A perfect listening experience!"
This debut audiobook will grab listeners' hearts and not let go. Ethan and his family have moved from Boston to Pine Knot, Georgia, supposedly to help his grandfather, but really to help Ethan recover from "the incident" involving his best friend, Kacey. Narrator Kirby Heyborne is extraordinary in the way he inhabits the character of 12-year-old Ethan, vocal cracks and all. He gives listeners the sense of eavesdropping on his innermost thoughts as he slowly finds his way back to the Ethan he was before. He voices Grandpa Ike with just the right balance of crustiness and compassion and gives tones of believable frustration mixed with longing to big brother Roddie, who had to leave girlfriend and dreams of baseball stardom behind. A perfect listening experience! N.E.M. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2017, Portland, Maine [Published: MARCH 2017]
Four-Four-Two by Dean Hughes Winner of Audiof=File Earphoens Award© "Heyborne's voice captures the heroism that these forgotten patriots showed on a daily basis"
During WWII, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, composed solely of Japanese-American soldiers, became one of the fiercest and most highly decorated units in the U.S. Army. Finding a fine vocal balance between youthful confidence and understandable apprehension, narrator Kirby Heyborne completely draws the listener into the story of two Japanese-American men, boys really, who leave the poverty and indignity of the internment camps to join the army. In the battle scenes Heyborne's voice captures the heroism that these forgotten patriots showed on a daily basis. His voice shines even more brightly when describing the personal drive it took to insist that they not to be left behind when it came to serving their country and honoring their families back home. B.P. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2017, Portland, Maine [Published: FEBRUARY 2017] Read more and listen to a sample from the book!
North Texas Teen Book Festival
Grand Ballroom 4 Level 4
Irving Convention Center
Join Listening Library's game show-inspired audiobook panel as they talk about their experiences telling stories, creating characters, and making funny sounds with their mouths. Kirby Heyborne, Tara Sands, Dan Zitt
There are prizes to be won and every attendee will recieve a FREE audiobook! PLUS the first 200 recieve a wristband for an ice cream social!
Map to Irvine Convention Center
Davis County Library South Branch
725 South Main Street
Bountiful, UT 84010
Signing from 8:00 - 8:30 pm
A CELEBRATION of BOOKS and AUTHORS for TEENS
Join me to learn how to use your voice to make some noise! An interactive panel on audiobooks, narration, and life in general.
300 South Main Street
Washington Convention Center
801 Mt Vernon Pl NW
Washington, DC 20001
Special audiobook panel with narrators Kirby Heyborne and Amy Rubinate
Converting Prose into Verbal Message
The Greater Columbus Convention Center
400 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43215
"Old Wolf" - Read by Kirby Heyborne, winner of AudioFile Earphones Award, Oct. 2015
A stirring performance by Kirby Heyborne complements this thought-provoking exploration of nature's complexity. Heyborne richly captures the various roles and voices of grey wolf pack members. Through a deep-toned, slow-paced narration, he conveys the age and wisdom of Nashoba, the old wolf who finds his role as pack leader challenged by Garby, a younger, angry, and aggressive wolf, whom Heyborne portrays with a stronger, faster-paced voice. Heyborne's versatility in pitch brings out the enthusiastic naïveté of 13-year-old Casey and the high, raucous cawing of Merla the raven. The emotional highs and lows in the characters' changing relationships are further expressed through Heyborne's dynamic use of volume. Overall, this is a beautifully intense and haunting listening experience. M.F. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine [Published: SEPTEMBER 2015]
Read review on AudioFileMagazine.com: http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/104169/
"I'm honored to be named 2015 Voice of Choice by Booklist. I love my job." Kirby
Why Kirby Heyborne? You need only check out the YouTube videos of the 2012 and 2014 Odyssey Awards presentations to understand the connection between rock-star narrator Heyborne and librarians. (Heyborne won both years for his narration of Daniel Kraus’ YA novels, Rotters and Scowler, published on audio by Listening Library.) At both ceremonies, he sang hilarious, original songs praising librarians. In many ways, these videos and this mutual affection speak to who Heyborne is: a multitalented performer with a great sense of humor who has the skills to connect with listeners even when reading disturbing, sometimes horrific, stories. Continue reading full article...
Following the recent announcements at the ALA Midwinter Conference in Chicago, Kirby has four Audiobook performances seclected for awards.
The Madman of Piney Woods was named an ALSC Notable Children’s Recording. In the words of the ALSC committee: “J.D. Jackson and Kirby Heyborne superbly tell the story of two boys, one the descendant of slaves and the other of Irish immigrants, in this companion book to Elijah of Buxton.” You can read more about the ALSC Notable Awards here.
Three recordings were chosen as a YALSA Amazing Audiobook –
Skink was named a YALSA Amazing Audiobook AND it was in the “Top Ten” selection. "Terrific!" In the words of the YALSA committee: “Heyborne narrates this audiobook flawlessly, coupling a wide range of character voices with an appropriate amount of intensity and humor.”
Hollow City – "Heyborne’s superb narration captures the children’s terror and determination as they continue their quest, despite the monstrous creatures that pursue them."
Noggin – "The standout of this narration is how Heyborne excels at conveying the quiet, tender moments of Travis’ story."
Read more about the YALSA Amazing Audiobook for Young Adults Awards here.
See the full list of Listening Library’s ALA Award Winners here.
I love my job as an audiobook narrator. During an open house for Penguin Random House, I was interviewed by a real NPR reporter! It's a quick 4 minutes. Take a listen!
November 2014 - Audiofile Magazine announces their prestigious list of "Best Voices of 2014". Kirby Heyborne is named along with several other of the most talented narrators of the year. Congratulations to all!
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 -- 9:50 - 10:25 AM
How a Writer, a Narrator, and a Producer Collaborate
— Kirby Heyborne, narrator, Scowler (Listening Library)
— Daniel Kraus, author, Scowler (Listening Library)
— Kelly Gildea, producer, Scowler (Listening Library)
Moderated by Teri Lesesne, Sam Houston State University
Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center
201 Waterfront Street
National Harbor, MD
By John Florian, VoiceOverXtra, Story and Event Photos - 11/10/2014
(New York) - Ever evolving, the voice over industry reached a significant milestone here Sunday night with presentations of the 1st Annual Voice Arts™ Awards, honoring and celebrating best work and achievements in voice over talent, production and other aspects of the voice over business.
AND THE WINNERS ARE ...
OUTSTANDING AUDIO BOOK NARRATION – TEENS
Scowler by Daniel Kraus (Listening Library)
Artist’s Name: Kirby Heyborne
Producer: Kelly Gildea
"'Ain’t Nobody Change the World Like a Librarian,' will surely go down in ALA Annual history as one of the best surprise moments experienced by a crowd of librarians...." Read full article and watch the FULL VIDEO on the Books on Tape website.
If you're looking for the lyrics, this is your lucky day! Click this link (LYRICS, CLICK HERE) and you shall have them!
"Today I’m very pleased to welcome one of my favorite audiobook narrators to The Reading Date! Kirby Heyborne is an award-winning narrator of over 200 audiobooks, and chances are you’ve listened to at least one of them. He took time out of the recording booth to answer some questions about his very interesting job...." Follow this link to read the Q&A and enter to win a Kirby Heyborne-narrated audiobook: Audio Month Q&A and Giveaway with Narrator Kirby Heyborne
Thursday, May 29, 2014 - 7:00pm-12:00 midnight
The 19th ANNUAL AUDIES AWARDS and GALA
New York Academy of Medicine
1216 5th Ave
New York, NY 10029
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Las Vegas Convention Center
Las Vegas, NV
SCOWLER by Daniel Kraus! The dream team of star narrator Kirby Heyborne and producer Kelly Gildea previously won the Odyssey Award in 2012 for Kraus’ Rotters. Listeners who loved that complex and creepy family drama, will get a thrill out of Kraus’ latest bone-chilling story. Leave the lights on for this listen!
Read more and step into the studio with Kirby talking about narrating "Scowlers" here!
AUDIOBOOK MARATHON LIVE!
25 HOURS OF LIVE READING - WITH CELEBRITIES
The First Ever! Audiobook Marathon LIVE: An ALS Charity Event
• 25 Hours
• 12 Genres
• 2 Amazing Causes!
The Victory Theatre
3326 W Victory Blvd
Burbank, CA 91505
Audible Inc. has donated one free download with the purchase of every ticket. Attendance is required to collect.
For tickets & info about the LIVE event, click here: www.audiobooks.brownpapertickets.com
I have a $2 discount code for you. Enter this code: "billion" at checkout.
Ender's Game Alive: The Full Cast Audioplay written by Orson Scott Card, based on Ender’s Game.
"Skyboat Media and Audible, the producers of all the unabridged audiobooks of Orson Scott Card’s ‘Ender’s Game’ novels, have announced that they will be producing an audio drama based on the book by Orson Scott Card... Kirby Heyborne has been cast as Ender." Website and full story at: www.endersansible.com
The audioplay will be released in late October 2013, will have a cast of over 40 actors playing over 100 roles. It will be directed by Gabrielle de Cuir and produced at Skyboat Media by Stefan Rudnicki. All this brought to you by publisher Audible.com
Photo by Alex Linares
See Skyboat Media's Facebook page for full cast info, some fun behind the scenes photos and videos of the production, and release date of Ender's Game Alive audio drama.
Kirby is the voice of the new Jim Henson biography by Brian Jay Jones for Books on Tape! The audiobook will be released on September 24, 2013. (You can pre-order now at Amazon.com)
"All done! What a great book! Thanks Books on Tape, Random House Audio, Brian Jay Jones, and Aaron Blank!" ~ Kirby
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)