News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Reader question about AMERICA LIBRE

One of the great things about being a writer in today's web connected world is the ability to engage in meaningful discussions with readers all over the world in near-real time. In fact, reader Bianca Laureano sent me these provocative questions which I hope to answer. Should you have similar questions or thoughts, feel free to get in touch.

Bianca Laureano:
Why was there no talk of Puerto Rico's independence movements? Why do strong women (beyond being mothers, transmitters of culture etc, but strong in less "traditional" senses) have to die in books?

Let me start with your first question, Bianca. Each author brings a personal set of experiences and knowledge to their work. Rarely is the author's background comprehensive enough to match that of all the book's readers. AMERICA LIBRE was grounded on the work of scholars from the U.S., Latin America and Spain. Leaving out references to independence movements in Puerto Rico was probably an oversight shared by me and this distinguished group. At the same time, AMERICA LIBRE is a trilogy and your comment may well spark the inclusion of Puerto Rican independence in one of the subsequent volumes.

Your second question is also thought provoking. I cannot speak to the reason strong, untraditional women often die in other books, but I think your observation has merit. It does indeed appear some type of "punishment" is meted to women in fiction who dare challenge traditional roles. I risk creating a spoiler for readers by getting into too much detail about the particulars of AMERICA LIBRE. However, I will say that like Jose Marti, Patrick Henry, Bodica, Joan of Arc, and Che Guevara, revolutionary leaders often die young--and become mythic heroes. I don't think that's such a bad fate for a fictional character.

Again, thanks for sending me your questions, Bianca. I look forward to answering any follow ups and similar questions and comments from other readers.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez