Thursday, August 6, 2009

Latino Virtual Book Tour: Raul Ramos Y Sanchez

Welcome to my first BronzeWord Latino Virtual Book Tour. Today, I introduce to you Raul Ramos y Sanchez author of America Libre. I encourage all who stop in to visit the links provided and to also leave comment. At the end of the day I will pull a name out of the comments hat and that lucky individual will receive a FREE signed copy of America Libre. Now, let's meet Raul.

Raul's Bio:

A long-time resident of the U.S. Midwest, Cuban-born Raul Ramos y Sanchez is a founding partner of BRC Marketing, an ad agency established in 1992 with offices in Ohio and California. Besides developing a documentary for public television, Two Americas: The Legacy of our Hemisphere, he is host of — an online forum for the U.S. immigrant community. Raul began writing America Libre in 2004, with the input of scholars from Latin America, Spain, and the United States. After five months as a self-published edition, America Libre, was acquired by Grand Central Publishing (formerly Warner Books). The revised version of the novel by Grand Central Publishing released July 29, 2009. Grand Central Publishing also acquired El Nuevo Alamo, the sequel to America Libre. El Nuevo Alamo is slated for release in 2010.

And now a few questions:

1) After months of self publishing, how does it feel having your first book acquired by Grand Central Publishing?
In a word: fantastic! I’m very fortunate to have found an agent who took a chance on my manuscript and an editor who put her trust in my work. In between those events were years of rewrites and rejections. Committing yourself to getting published is a long and sometimes painful experience. I think the real secret is determination. Seeing my book published at last has been rewarding. But it’s really the first leg of a longer journey. I owe it to my agent and my editor to repay their faith in me by doing everything I can to make AMERICA LIBRE a success. There’s more than writing to being a writer. An author’s work is just beginning after you type “the end.”

2) Tell us a little about the book and what inspired you to write it.
I like to think of AMERICA LIBRE as a love triangle set in the middle of a revolution. I began the novel in 2004 while waiting for funding on a television documentary I had written on the comparative political and racial histories of the U.S. and Latin America. The film is called TWO AMERICAS and I’d managed to gather a great team of scholars who’d provided some excellent insights. (Among the scholars, by the way, is Harvard’s Henry Louis Gates, Jr. who has been in the news lately for the now infamous arrest on his front porch). But the foundations and government funding agencies were dragging their heels. During that lengthy process, the film’s executive producer said, “Why don’t you write a book about this?” So I did, more to kill time than anything else. Before long, the book’s characters developed a life of their own and began to carry the story far beyond the original scope of the film. I haven’t given up hope on TWO AMERICAS. I’m secretly hoping if my novel does well, it may rekindle some interest in the film from the foundations.

3) What message, if any, do you wish to convey to the reader through your book?
I’d rather think of AMERICA LIBRE as a book with a perspective rather than one with “a message.” I hope the novel‘s main characters give mainstream U.S. readers a chance to experience the very real human struggles most Latino families face each day. It’s easy to demonize a group when you have no personal connection with them. At the same time, I think AMERICA LIBRE will remind all readers that people of Latin American origin are not a monolithic bloc. Latinos do not all think, vote or even look alike. Recognition of that diversity is something I find missing from most public discussions of the Hispanic identity—and I think that’s potentially dangerous. There is an escalating fear among mainstream Americans about the “fastest growing minority” in the United States. Hate crimes against Latinos have surged recently. Yet people with Spanish surnames are no more of one mind than people with Anglo surnames. Only prejudice and hatred would ever drive Hispanics into a single camp. And that’s the cautionary tale in AMERICA LIBRE. Ignorance and fear are never a good breeding ground for social stability.

4) I noticed you have a vote for casting, in a possible film adaptation of America Libre, on your book website. Who would you vote for and why?
That’s a fun game to play! Main character Manolo Suarez is a former U.S. Army Ranger who is intensely devoted to his family. His strong moral sense and instincts to protect others leads him into siding with the rebels. Mano is humble and gentle, but strangers are wary of his imposing physique. I could easily see Jimmy Smits playing Mano, projecting that calm assurance. Javier Bardem is another actor with the gravitas to play Mano. Mano’s wife Rosa is quiet on the outside, holding back her feelings, especially in front of her children. But Rosa is a volcano waiting to erupt. With her ability to say so much with gesture alone, Salma Hayek would get my vote to play Rosa. The final player in AMERICA LIBRE’s romantic triangle is Josefina Herrera. The daughter of a wealthy Uruguayan doctor raised in California, blond and blue-eyed Jo is a stereotype-breaking Latina. She is educated, speaks perfect English and Spanish, and is married to the cause of a Hispanic homeland in the United States—until she meets Mano. I think Julie Gonzalo would be an excellent choice to play Jo. Cameron Diaz would fit the part physically but I don’t think her Spanish is good enough. Although he is not a character featured on my website, the role of Ramon Garcia would be perfect for Edward James Olmos. Garcia is Jo’s mentor and a 60s Chicano radical who becomes an elder statesman of the rebel movement.

With that said, I would like to thank Raul for giving of his time and sharing with us. Thank you to Jo Ann Hernandez of BronzeWord Latino Authors for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of the tour. Mil Gracias!

Visit Raul's Links:

Buy the book now!! Leave comment and one lucky commentator will receive a free signed copy of America Libre!!
(Don't forget to leave your name and e-mail)


  1. Hi Raul,

    Thanks for reminding me about your Virtual Book Tour. Your book sounds interesting. It reminds me of this idea I had some time back, which I titled "Planet of the Latinos". It also took place in the future and involved racial conflict. The story was also a romance. Anyway, I think you've achieved quite a book here.

    Congratulations, and keep reminding us where you are in your tour.


  2. Thank most kindly, Lupe! Glad to keep you posted. Great minds must work alike with your PLANET OF THE LATINOS! Maybe we can start a new genre. The field looks pretty open for us at the moment. :)

    Hey, I'd like to remind you and all other visitors about the MyAmericaLibre Photo Contest with a chance to win $50. Post ANY photo of a copy of AMERICA LIBRE and you are registered to win the cash. You have two places to register:

    The Friends of AMERICA LIBRE Facebook Page:

    Or you can post a TwitPic at #MyAmericaLibre

  3. Raul is probably one of the coolest brothers I've met on Twitter. It's good to see our people making things happen on different scales. Thanks for the interview and I hope to hear more from dude.

  4. Gracias, Jose. We are all luchando in whatever way we can. Today we can all celebrate the confirmation of hermana Sotomayor. But let's not forget that the vicious last minute smears hurled at her by ALIPAC remind us how far we still have to go. Paz y amor.

  5. Just a question for Raul... you mentioned that Cameron Diaz wouldn't be a good fit for the lead role in a movie because her spanish is poor? Would that be so bad? Or would it further show the diversity of latinos in the US. Many don't speak Spanish at all.

  6. Well, Jo's character is perfectly bilingual. So I think the actress would have to be as well. Mano is the one who struggles to speak Spanish. This is one of the ways I think AMERICA LIBRE demonstrates the diversity of Latinos. Mano is a third-generation Chicano who actually speaks very little Spanish. Josefina is a first-generation Uruguayan immigrant who speaks Spanish perfectly (and English, too). I think both those characters will shatter stereotypes for the average mainstream reader. However, few Latinos would be surprised by this.

  7. Hi Efrain and Raul, Hope everything is going well. I agree. I don't think Cameron Diaz would be good in this role. She's pretty much attached to comedy roles and light stuff. I've never seen her do much serious roles that I'm inclined to think that's what this role would be. Maybe she would surprise us all and I go with Raul. Authors pretty much know their characters better than anyone else. They've been living with them together for a long time. Can you imagine Raul in the shower with Cameron???? Sorry Raul couldn't pass that up. I"m bad. I know. Sorry
    Jo Ann Hernandez
    BronzeWord Latino Authors
    Thanks Efrain for mentioning me!!!

  8. Hi Jo Ann,

    Glad you stopped in to chat!

    In fairness to Cameron, she did a very good job in a serious role in GANGS OF NEW YORK. So I would not pan her acting ability. In fact, if she appeared to be enjoying a shower with me, that would Academy Award material.

  9. Great job, Efrain! This is an incredibly well done interview! I'm book marking this post to check back with the next time I host.

    Raul, I learn a little bit more about you and America Libre at each LVBT stop! Thank you for being so candid. I love your actor choices-perfect!!

  10. Great interview and comments Efrain & Raul! The tour keeps getting better and better.

    Although not an actress...YET, Shakira just popped into my mind for the role of Jo.

  11. Thanks Nilki and Teresa for stopping by! I've been at the #LatISM Twitter Party and as you know, that's quite a ride! I hope you'll continue to follow the tour. It's amazing the new elements each hosts adds to the process. And thank you, Efrain, for being an excellent and gracious host.

  12. I hope I'm not too late but would like to check out this book. As a recent immigrant to New York, I'm very fond of books that touches upon the topic of diaspora. More power!

  13. I agree with those who think that this book will be made into a movie. And if Cameron Diaz really wants the part, she should get it unless you really the money to afford someone better!
    I also think that as America Libre gains in popularity, we are then going to see some debates as to whether this book is simply an action novel, or whether it foretells a possible future in our country. You will know you are a big success when Rush Limbaugh gets upset about it.

  14. Thank you all for stopping in and leaving comment. Raul, mil gracias, I had a great time on this and I would do it again for you. So, I wrote down each name on a piece of paper, dropped them in a hat and...rng888 came up!! Congratulations on winning a copy of America Libre, hope you enjoy the book!