Let’s welcome Dania Nasca to the blog today as she discusses her poignant story about life under Fidel Castro’s “iron curtain.”
Dania Rosa Nasca was born in 1958 in Holguín, the City of Parks, Oriente, Cuba, the year the Cuban Revolution drove Batista from power. She was given a front-row seat to Fidel Castro’s takeover of the government and all private enterprise. When she was twelve, she and her family immigrated to the United States through a US-sponsored Freedom Flight. She works as a financial counselor for the University of Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital. She closely follows world affairs, especially events in Cuba and other communist countries.A proud Cuban American and a hockey mom who hates snow, she lives in Rochester, New York, with her husband, Tony, their son, Anthony, and their Chihuahua-Manchester terrier. Rochester has been her home ever since she arrived in the United States.
What genre do you write and why did you pick this genre?
Lights Out : A Cuban Memoir of Betrayal and Survival is a historical memoir. My Cuban story is not untypical, yet it is largely untold. English language memoirs of the Cuban Revolution are few. The ones that are out there lack the historical context that Lights Out offers and skim the surface of the disaster the Cuban Revolution became after 1961. I also felt it was important to correct widely held misconceptions about the Cuban Revolution, the Cuban middle class, and pre- as well as post-Castro Cuba.
Tell us about your current release. What inspired you to write it? Lights Out is a timely and provocative memoir. The book is a window into true Cuban history and the life of a three-generational Cuban family trying to survive the realities of living behind Fidel Castro’s iron curtain.
I wrote Lights Out for my son, Anthony, as his legacy to take into the future. I wanted to write my memories before the memories got so foggy that they would lose their significance. Often when the sun rises, we forget the storm; and I didn’t want my childhood experiences and the experiences of my family to die with me. I didn’t want the past, good and bad, to be lost, so I gathered those moments for him.
Who is the protagonist?
Lights Out captures a child happily living the last remnants of traditional Cuban culture and then a child with an empty stomach trying to make sense of the world changing around her–all while Fidel was waging a war to stamp out self-reliance, dignity, joy, and hope, especially in Cuban children.
Never underestimate how observant and smart children are, how important it is for them to be told the truth, and how a child can be perceptive of injustice when adults are blind.
What is your day job?
I work full time as a Financial Counselor at University of Rochester, Strong Memorial Hospital. I have been with the university for eighteen years.
Are you a pantser or a plotter?
At first, I did not follow an outline. I started writing each experience, then I organized them by topics and subtopics in chronological order. Once I started weaving Cuba’s history into the story, I did follow a skeleton outline.
Do you ever write longhand?
Good question! I wrote all my memories on a notebook, then I transferred them to Word. I’m not one of those people who carry their laptop everywhere they go. I prefer a notebook and a pen.
Tell us a little bit about your process. What’s the most difficult thing about writing to you?
The most difficult thing about writing Lights Out was the emotional aspect of it. The first draft was extremely personal, almost like an emotional avalanche. It’s not pleasant to open old wounds. Little by little I found the right balance between emotions, history and the story I was trying to convey.
Did your particular genre required research? If so, how did you do it?
In Fidel Castro’s schools I only learned indoctrination and hate for the United States. In order to let the reader see what Cuba was like before the revolution, I had to learn the history of Cuba. Researching the history of Cuba proved to be a fascinating process for me; the more I read, the more I wanted to read. The University of Rochester’s Miner Library proved to be an invaluable asset for my research.
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