Actor Spotlight: Kelly Ward

Galaxy Audio interviews Kelly Ward

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GA: Tell us a little about yourself.

KW: I’m a writer, director. I’ve produced. I’ve been an actor, a choreographer. I’ve done a little bit of everything in the entertainment business. And I’ve served as director on five of the Galaxy Audio projects.

GA: We’ve produced 153 of L. Ron Hubbard’s short stories as audio performances. What are your thoughts about this venture?

KW: The concept of the project is very exciting. Not just because of the volume of work being done, but the variety of the work. The types of stories and storytelling runs the gamut from romantic stories to western stories to science fiction, stories founded in historical fact and using the backdrop of historical events against which to set some of these really dramatic tales. The variety is challenging and stimulating.

And for me, being a writer myself, the opportunity to delve into the stories to look at how they were constructed and learn from them was tantalizing. So for me, it was just a great positive on every level that there can be. Creatively and as a spectator, as both audience and participant in the storytelling, it was really, really very fulfilling.

GA: Have you listened to audiobooks very much before this?

KW:  I haven’t listened to many audiobooks. A lot of times, they are just narrated, read well, but I tend to like a musical underscore. I like sound effects here and there. For me, an audiobook that doesn’t have some of those trappings—the sound effects and music—are not compelling enough for me to put down the book and listen to the audiobook.

Whereas, with this series you’re really drawn into the adventure because the mood is enhanced by the musical background, it’s enhanced by the sound effects which are manifold in these productions.

GA: What are your thoughts on the production style we have chosen for our audio dramatizations?

KW: I think this approach to audible stories, or books on CD really raises the bar, because it takes a greater amount of creative thought to craft the “underscore” for these stories and to build a sound effects track, because this isn’t just a generic effort. Everything is researched and tailor made to the individual story. That’s going to send a message and kind of raise the standard I think across the industry.

GA: You’ve probably read lots of authors. How would you describe
L. Ron Hubbard’s storytelling?

KW: Well, I know his storytelling in the context of these stories. Many of them are readable in one sitting and that obviously was the intent. The thing that strikes me about these stories is the economy of language and at the same time the richness of the description.

The way the characters are built invites you to experience the narrative, kind of in the first person. Almost as if you’re looking out of the character’s eyes because there’s a craft involved with the way the stories are constructed that just kind of sucks you in and gets you involved in the stakes that the characters are experiencing.

Whereas with a lot of fiction novels, you can appreciate them intellectually but sometimes you are not drawn into the stories as deeply as in the case of these.

GA: How would you describe the lead characters which people L. Ron Hubbard’s stories?

KW: In the stories that I’ve done, there is a classic structure that becomes apparent real quickly. The lead character initially seems to be an ordinary human being. And when he meets with obstacles, or circumstances arise, which challenge that individual, they tend to reach deep down within themselves and find resource that they didn’t know they had. And through that fortitude they tend to triumph over the hardships or obstacles that are placed in front of them. That’s something that kind of seems to be a linking element through all of these stories. As a reader, as a participant in the story, you want to think that if presented with those same circumstances you would also have that same grit, that same presence of mind or those imaginative powers to stand up to the task at hand and come through successful.

GA: Of those stories you’ve worked on, what was your favorite and why?

On Blazing Wings audiobook

KW: I enjoyed On Blazing Wings enormously because of the authenticity of the story. It really rang true in all of its detail, historically and even into the mechanics of the equipment that these pilots were flying. Even the weather as described was tangible. It incorporated Norse mythology and all kinds of diverse ingredients to make a really compelling adventure.

On Blazing Wings deals with a pilot who is a mercenary. His very considerable skills as a fighter pilot and warrior are for sale to the highest bidder. He’s good at what he does and yet there’s something wrong—the thing that allows him to fight for whoever pays him to fight, he doesn’t have his heart in the fight. He’s not owned by anybody, but he also doesn’t have his own ethic in an interesting way.

Curiously, the story is set in a Scandinavian part of the world and the Nordic concept of heaven kind of bangs head on into this guy during the middle of a battle. It’s very involved and ingeniously crafted because pilots disappear or they go on sorties and when they come back, they tell of seeing this heaven-like place. Is it a mirage or is it real? It’s a wild ride, really a great story.

GA: How would you like to wrap this up?

KW: All of the actors that I had the privilege of working with on the project are spectacularly gifted.

It’s no surprise that a lot of professionals in the voice-over realm have lent their talents to this project because it’s challenging, but it’s also a real reward for people who make the spoken word their livelihood. It’s great to have good words to speak. And here they’re vivid and electrifying and very emotional as well.

GA: Thank you very much.