This could be the single most exciting event of my career as an author.
My debut novel America Libre won a First Place prize in the inaugural Books Into Movies Awards sponsored by Latino Literacy Now founded by actor Edward James Olmos.
“The Books Into Movies Awards are designed to help change the way Hollywood views Latinos,” stated Olmos during the awards ceremony held October 9, 2009 during the two-day Los Angeles Latino Book and Family Festival at the California State University, Los Angeles campus. “This is probably the most challenging and the most rewarding moment in the history of our book festival,” said Olmos.
Launched this year, the winners of the Books Into Movies Awards were selected by a panel of judges from the movie industry. The winning books in eight categories will be presented by Latino Literacy Now to Hollywood studios, producers and agencies as stories with compelling potential for film adaptation that provide fresh perspectives on the Latino experience but will still have appeal to all audiences.
The judges “really favored” America Libre, according to Olmos. Reading from the judge’s notes during the presentation, Olmos quoted, “I really liked this book and definitely think it should be a movie with many interesting characters and conflicts. It is very thought provoking and in many ways educational. The author’s devotion to his readers and his work exceeds any I’ve seen.” (Watch a 4-minute video excerpt of the award ceremony here: http://www.viddler.com/explore/Raul_Ramos/videos/16/)
The main goals of the Books Into Movies Awards are to provide Latino youth with author role models in the highly-visible world of motion pictures and to create a more authentic perspective of the Latino experience, helping to dispel the negative Latino stereotypes that often plague Hollywood productions.
America Libre was the First Place winner in the Action & Adventure category. Other winners in the Books Into Movies Awards were: Hungry Woman In Paris by Josefina Lopez, The Heartbreak Pill by Anjanette Delgado, The Case Runner by Carlos Cisneros, There’s A Coqui In My Shoe by Marissa de Jesus Paolicelli, Across A Hundred Mountains by Reyna Grande, Meant To Be by Rutino Lara, and Day Of The Dead by Mary J. Andrade.
My deepest thanks to Latino Literacy Now for sponsoring the competition and the Latino Book and Family Festival. Thanks also go out to my agent Sally van Haitsma for her long-time support and my editor Selina McLemore at Grand Central Publishing for nominating AMERICA LIBRE.
Finally, I want to congratulate and praise my fellow authors in the awards and those who took part in the Los Angeles Festival. The event was a promising one for Latino letters with more than 180 authors (a historic first) and thousands of visitors.