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In June 2020, Ramon was inducted as a Golden Voice, AudioFile's lifetime achievement honor for audiobook narrators.
What helps you achieve an emotional connection to a book and the characters?
Everything is personal, and everyone is me. I bring myself right into it. I think as an actor I’ve developed a sensitivity for language, and (because I read so many scripts) a mechanism to find what parts of me connect quickly to what I’m reading. Because it’s both art and work, I find I approach a book open to possibilities and “ready to play.” It’s different from when I’m reading a book just for enjoyment, when I let the author’s words take me on a journey. When I’m working on a book as an actor/narrator, I’m considering myself as a catalyst for the listener to take the journey. It can take a lot out of you, emotionally and physically, but I think that kind of human heart is what can make the experience of audiobooks so thrilling.
You narrate a lot of audiobooks for children and young adults—what do you enjoy about the genre?
I love to tell coming-of-age stories (whether it’s a war-torn landscape, an urban jungle, a wizarding school, or a fifth-grade diary). I think those are the ones that made the biggest impression on me when I was growing up. And I love the openhearted storytelling that is the mark of the genre. YA stories come from a place of truth, energy, earnestness, and a soulful tenderness that I really connect with. And I love that kids connect with those stories, too! My young nephew is convinced I lead other lives—he asks me questions about siblings I have from books. (He’s sure I’m actually Greg from Wimpy Kid!)
Tell us about a time you’ve gotten feedback from a fan.
My mother tells this story: Once, she was at a rest stop on a road trip to Vegas. One of those little malls in the middle of the desert somewhere. She was paying for something, and the cashier needed her name for the old-school paper credit card form she was filling out. When my mom told the cashier her name, a giant, leather-vested, shaved-headed Harley rider who overheard her said, “De Ocampo? As in Ramon de Ocampo?” My mom was surprised and said, “Yes, I’m his mom.” The rider said, “Man, I listen to his audiobooks all the time—my kids and I are huge fans!”
Photo by Elsie Rose Photography
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