Q&A with Ramón de Ocampo, Narrator of Patron Saints of Nothing

Patron Saints of Nothing is a gripping and moving story that necessitates an equally gripping and moving voice to bring it to life as an audiobook. Luckily, we have award-winning narrator Ramón de Ocampo to do just that. Not only is he an accomplished voice actor, but he’s also an experienced stage and screen actor.

We caught up with Ramón to hear more about Patron Saints of Nothing and to discover what he’s listening to next.

Tell us a little about Patron Saints of Nothing.
I think one of the most fascinating things about Patron Saints of Nothing is how current the story is. It is the story of a Filipino American boy grappling with what it means to be Filipino American and being on the outside of what has become a deep and sometimes violent change in the Philippines. And it tells a story that could be happening right now, in the present political climate of the Philippines. I don’t know how Randy Ribay published such a visceral and personal novel so quickly. These events—the killing of suspected drug users and dealers without due process, vigilante justice, and the fallout on society in the Philippines—is happening right now, and Randy sends you right into it.

June is Audiobook Month, and we’re celebrating! Do you have a celebration ritual when you finish narrating an audiobook?
I don’t really. Which is to say I tend to be working on multiple audiobooks at once, so while one is finishing, I’m getting ready to record another the next day, while prepping another in the evenings. I’m very happy about that—but it doesn’t give me a ton of celebration room. I’m trying my best now to at least give myself the day after an audiobook to rest and not record if I can, but that’s a new development. Do other narrators have a celebration ritual? Is it like cake and whiskey? Maybe I can do cake and whiskey.

Which characters from this book would you invite to a summer dinner party and why?
There is a fantastic scene (which shouldn’t spoil anything) where two aunties in the Philippines decide to start singing karaoke in their yard and within minutes the whole neighborhood shows up with lawn chairs and things, cracks open beers, and sings deep into the tropical night in a way that can only happen with neighbors who are so close they’re practically family. If those people can’t come to my party, I am soooo going to theirs.

Is there a song that makes you want to get up and dance?
It is so easy to get me up and dancing. I’m that guy in the corner trying so hard not to dance because it may not be appropriate. I love a good cheesy wedding DJ. Motown, ‘80s, disco…any of that stuff that’s made for dancing I totally want to get up and dance to. Want a song? How about Earth Wind and Fire’s “September”? It always reminds me of my old friend and producer Bob Deyan, who was convinced they were singing his name in the lyrics.

And in honor of Audiobook Month, what’s your next audio listen, and what made you chose it?
Dean Koontz’s Watchers. I spend so much time narrating YA books, but I love a good adult-fiction sizzler. Also, I actually love to hear the work of my fellow narrators. It’s such a small world of such nice people, and often you don’t have time to listen to things people are very proud of who you are friends with and admire. And you can learn a whole lot as a narrator by listening to your compatriots who are at the top of their game, and Edoardo Ballerini absolutely is. Last book I listened to was narrated by my dear friend Julia Whelan, and the one after Watchers will be something read by my friend MacLeod Andrews. It’s a way to stay inspired by the work my friends are doing (and be supportive of them), while staying educated and pushing myself to do my best in my quiet audio booth. And if I can hear a great story while I’m at it, then it’s all gravy.


Listen to a clip and learn more about the audiobook:

Patron Saints of Nothing

A powerful coming-of-age story about grief, guilt, and the risks a Filipino-American teenager takes to uncover the truth about his cousin’s murder.

“Brilliant, honest, and equal parts heartbreaking and soul-healing.”—Laurie Halse Anderson, author of SHOUT

“Deep, nuanced, and painfully real.”—Booklist, starred review