People often ask me, “Why do you write so much about Cuba?” “Is it a place that intrigues you?” “Do you have a business connection?” “Do you have a personal nexus, perhaps a wife or a girlfriend from Cuba?” “Have you ever visited Cuba?” “What is it about Cuba that stimulates you to write all these books with a Cuban background?” “What inspires you the most to write about Cuba?”

The answer is simple — and it’s personal, not business. I’m Cuban.

Most people don’t know this, so this might be news to many of you. As far as I know, this is the first time it has been published anywhere: English is my second language.

Much like Cid Milan, the main character in my book However long the Night, I arrived in the United States — Tampa, Florida — when I was nineteen years old. Like Cid, I left a girlfriend behind named Sonia. Unlike the Sandra in my book, Sonia was blonde and blue-eyed and, hopefully, not pregnant since I never saw her again. Like the Sandra in my book, Sonia was the daughter of Spaniards, as I am.

I’ve been to most of the Cuban places I describe in my books with a Cuban theme. In fact, I’ve been to most of the places I describe in any of my books, whether Cuba, Mexico, Italy, Paris or Dubai. I’ve been to more than thirty countries and have lived in six – Qatar, Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, Cuba and the United States.

Several of my books have fictionalized, thinly-autobiographical passages of Havana, Tampa, Miami, Dubai, Qatar, Rome, Paris, and Mexico. The love scene in However Long the Night between Sandra and Cid as teenagers in Santa Maria del Mar Beach in Cuba is, well, a poignant memory of my life.

That’s why I write about Cuba. I was born there. I left my childhood sweetheart there. My grandparents on my mother’s side are buried there.

Writers should write about things they know about.

I know about Cuba.