Wednesday, May 9, 2018

'Nobody sees how young you are!' Meet Voice Actor Jake Urry

Jake Urry 
is a British actor, voice artist and narrator of audiobooks, who already has an impressive list of 30+ audiobooks, and testimonials to make any author hope he'll accept a book for narration. When Jake said 'Yes' to me, I fastened my seatbelt, ready for a new way of living my own novel. I was not disappointed! How could I be when Jake attracts comments like, 'I have listened to thousands of audio books through the years, and rarely have I heard such a versatile talent as Jake Urry.' John D Mimms 

I really appreciate Jake taking the time to visit my blog and record this interview as I know he's a very private person when not being somebody else.

Photo: Tom Barker Photography
Welcome to my blog, Jake! 

Tell me a bit about yourself - what do you do when you’re not recording a book?
I co-run Just Some Theatre, a theatre company, and spend most of my time working. I share a studio with Tom Barker Photography so have access to this lovely screen, space and lighting. In my spare time, I like peaceful things like walking, the countryside, and eating salmon.

You can watch Jake's interview live, with more detail than on the blog post, here
Watch Jake's interview on youtube

Tell me about your journey as a Voice Actor
I did a couple of commercial voice-overs but wasn't inspired by reading phone messages for big companies and such-like. Then audiobooks came along and I've had a real passion for them since I started listening about twelve years ago. So, in 2016, my own narrating journey started.

You produce a lot of thrillers and suspense books. Do you see yourself branching out into other genres in the future?
I have worked on thriller, suspense, mystery, horror - dark themes. I was drawn to them because I like the narration voice I use, which is nothing like my natural speaking voice. I love the 'Vincent Price' way of creating suspense, building on it and keeping that energy going. I love that atmosphere.

Recently I have started doing other genres, fantasy and sc-fi, doing things in a completely different accent. I did a book called The Tesla Gate, by John D Mimms, in a sort of American drawl. I really enjoyed it and it's doing very well! 

I do feel like branching out more. This is the first book I've done with as much romance in it. It's not all romance as a story but Song at Dawn has more romantic elements than anything I've done before. I would certainly consider doing more in that vein in the future.

How do you prepare for recording an audiobook?
When I get the script, I look for moments of tension, big changes in the script, how that should push the story along and what the narrative voice should be like. Then, I'll go through looking for main characters, deciding their voices, before recording anything. Then I start reading and see how it evolves.

For what reasons do you turn books down?
If the story doesn't grab me or if I'm not right person for the book. I have to personally want to do it. Financially I can't do it if it won't sell. For instance, if the cover is bad, it won't pay off.

How can an author help the Voice Actor/ Producer of his/her book?
I've been lucky and worked with some great authors. On the whole, they tend to give me free rein. Some specify how they want a particular character to sound, which is fine. I usually ask for a list of main characters, and if the author can tell me anything to help me find a voice, that's helpful. Authors can give me any ideas they have but if they're happy for me to interpret for them, that's fine too.

Are there ways in which an author can hinder or even spoil the Voice Actor’s recording of a book?
What would be annoying would be an author not giving me anything at the beginning, saying, 'Do what you want,' and then came back to me after I'd recorded the whole thing with criticisms such as 'I thought the character would sound more like....' If you've got ideas, let me know at the beginning.

If you could wave a magic wand and change something about your career what would it be?
I'd make more time or get a robot to do my editing, which takes up so much time that i'd rather be recording.

Tell me about your working day. Do you work to a routine? Do you use a recording studio? Endless cups of coffee or tea?
My days starts with computer stuff. I need time for my voice to warm up so I do editing or paperwork or theatre company work first. I do some warm-ups, then go into my booth. I do drink a lot of coffee, and water as well. I try to relax as that's important. The worst thing is a deadline. You can't rush narrating.

Who or what has been the greatest help to you as a Voice Actor?
It's hard to choose. The person who put the spark in me to do narrating was Samuel West, when I heard him doing 1984 by George Orwell. I was on an acting degree and I thought, 'I want to do that!' I always thought I would have to wait until I was older, more seasoned, but the great thing about audiobooks is that they can't see how young you are. I sound about seventy-two when I'm recording but when people see me, they say, 'That's not the guy who read that!' I started doing it a lot sooner than I thought I could, and that's all down to Samuel West.

Jean: Jake made me laugh when we working on Song at Dawn because he enjoyed himself most when portraying old, male villains! NOT what I'd expected!

Jake on stage. Photo: Tom Barker Photography
What has been the hardest thing for you to overcome in becoming a Voice Actor?
Technical difficulties. I've had so many problems with microphones and software, spent so much time fixing them. Asking online for help would have saved me a lot of problems but I didn't know that was an option at the time!

If you could pick one character in one of your audiobooks, to spend some time with, who would it be and why?
I would love to spend some time with Harlan Ulrich, who is the P.I. in the The Ulrich Files by Ambrose Ibson because he spends so much time around abandoned buildings, trying to use his phone torch, and I think if he had someone there to shine a light, it would all be less scary. I could keep him company. He loves good coffee so I could learn coffee-brewing skills from him. I think he'd be pretty chilled to hang out with.

Jean: Now I've checked out The Ulrich Files, I think 'chilling' is a better description than 'chilled'!

Tell me about your latest audiobook and why we should all buy it?
My latest audiobook is of course Song at Dawn by Jean Gill. It's wonderful! I had such a blast narrating it. It has so many different layers, so many spectacular scenes. You can really imagine yourself being in those places. So much historical research has gone into it. I used to think historical fiction might not be as engaging but Song at Dawn shattered that illusion for me. It wasn't difficult to come up with different voices for the different characters because they are so detailed. the whole thing was a joy to narrate - and even to edit, which I don't usually say!

Jean: I had a blast too, Jake, and even enjoyed editing :) I don't usually like that either! Congratulations on a wonderful first review! 
5* review on audible from Melanie Preston Lewis
'Jake Urry provides exquisite narration, and what a task he had, providing voices for female singers as well as the troubadours, French aristocracy and the Jewish and Muslim characters. What an enormous and overwhelming challenge this must have been. Mr Urry rose to the occasion and must be congratulated on his success with so many difficult roles. '
Where can we find you? 
I want to add to my youtube channel so if you have any audiobook-related ideas for videos, anything you'd like to hear about, please post below or get in touch, through any of these links.

Contact Jake via his website

Thank you, Jake, for letting us behind the scenes and for bringing my book to life! 

The ebook of Song at Dawn is FREE from 7th-31st May 2018 - get it here!  
If you own the kindle version of Song at Dawn, you can get a BIG discount on amazon for your copy of Jake Urry reading Song at Dawn  from
Or join audible and get a FREE copy of Song at Dawn audiobook here.

Listen to Jake reading Chapter 1 of Song at Dawn

Discover the award-winning Troubadours Quartet FREE! 

Get Book 1 FREE


  1. Great interview. Jake is such a talented narrator!!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to post, Natalie, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. Yes, he is indeed!