Dayton-area author Raul Ramos Y Sanchez says that his newest novel, “The Skinny Years,” is “semi-autobiographical.”
The novel follows a family fleeing the Castro regime in Cuba in the 1960s. Raul, born in Cuba, came with his mother to New York in 1956; his parents had divorced and his father stayed in Cuba working against the Batista government in favor of Castro. Raul’s mother, though, felt that her and her son’s prospects would be better in the United States.
After that, Raul says, “my personal story became complicated!” After a brief stint in New York, Raul and his mother moved to Miami, Florida in 1961. His father passed away in Cuba shortly after that. In 1968, he moved to the Dayton area with his mother, finishing high school at Fairview, and has been a Midwesterner ever since. He studied at the College of the Dayton Art Institute in its final years, then at Wright State University.
He worked after that as a graphic designer and copy writer. In 1992, he became a founding partner of BRC Marketing, with offices in Centerville and in California. The company served multiple clients through 2010. Raul says the 2008 recession was a factor in the closing of the company, but he was also able to devote more time to creative writing after tha.
A long-time United States citizen, Raul says, “I adapted my experiences to the narrative that fits 95 percent of Cuban-Americans. What I left intact was the idea of family — which everyone can relate to — and what happens when people must leave one country for another and then adapt to their new circumstances. Sometimes that’s hard; other times, it can be funny. I want people to enjoy by novel, which is ultimately a ‘feel-good’ story.”
Raul is also the author of the critically acclaimed thriller trilogy, “Class-H” set in a near-future U.S. torn by civil war; the award-winning titles — which also led to Raul being featured on NPR and in USA Today — are America Libre (2009), House Divided (2011) and Pancho Land (2013).
Earlier this year, Raul was able to return to Cuba for the first time since 1961. He wrote a moving essay about the experience, “A Return To Cuba,” which was recently published on the Immigrant Report website. Read it at https://www.immigrantreport.com/this-week/2017/2/18/a-return-to-cuba.
Raul says that writers “have to love the process more than the reward. Happiness is in creating a good product, not reaching a specific goal.”
Learn more about Raul and his work at www.raulramos.com
Upcoming Literary Events
• Mondays, March 13-April 10, 12-2 p.m., Oakwood Starbucks, 2424 Far Hills Avenue, Dayton — Word’s Worth Writing Center (www.wordsworthdayton.com) offers a class on “Memoir: Write Your Story” with author and creative writing instructor Katrina Kittle. The five-week class will help those who want to write about personal experiences, from travel to family history to unique experiences. See the website to register.
• Monday, March 13, 1-3 p.m., Washington-Centerville Public Library, Centerville Library Lobby, 111 Spring Valley Road — This month’s “2nd Monday Authors” program features Kristin Bailey, a middle grade/young adult author of historical adventures and her book “The Silver Gate,” and David Kettlehake, a suspense writer and his book “Fever.” Visit www.wclibrary.info, click on “Programs” in the upper right corner, and then on “2nd Monday Authors” for more details.
• Sunday, March 19, 2-3 p.m., Books & Co. at The Greene — Antioch Writers’ Workshop at University of Dayton presents a free mini-seminar on writing dialogue, geared toward both fiction and nonfiction writers. The program will be led by novelist Martha Moody. Learn more about her at www.marthamoody.net. Learn more about the workshop’s programs at www.antiochwritersworkshop.com.
• Registration is open for Antioch Writers’ Workshop at University of Dayton’s spring one-day seminar, “How to Get the MOST out of YOUR Writing Life,” which will be held on March 25 at University of Dayton. The seminar will feature Cathy Day, author of the memoir “Comeback Season: How I Learned to Play the Game of Love” and the novel “The Circus in Winter.” Other sessions will be led by area writers. Visit www.antiochwritersworkshop.com for details or www.tinyurl.com/AWWSpring2017 to register.