Sandra Ramos O'Briant
Sandra Ramos O'Briant was born in New Mexico in 1949. She was not born in a hospital, like the average baby. Instead, she was delivered by nuns in her grandparents' home. When O'Briant was a young girl, she had two distinct lives: the life of a daughter of a married couple and the other was her life as the daughter of a divorced couple. When her parents were married, they were involved in the life of their daughter. They poured their income into O'Briant by placing her in a private school so that she would be successful. She was able to frolic in her hobbies and invest in her own joy. She took classes for swimming, piano, dance, and even accordion. Her father even bought her an Encyclopedia so that she could continue to learn and discover new things on her own and benefit from the wealth of education. What her mother gave her was possibly even greater than the gift of education: she gave her self-confidence by telling her that she was beautiful and intelligent. Her father traveled often for business and O'Briant was an only child, and so she spent much time alone with her mother. Her mother did not work away from the house and so she took her daughter too see as many movies of the 40's and 50's as she could with the money she had scavenged. And so, when she was young, she was familiar with all sorts of famous actors and actresses including Joan Crawford, Lana Turner, Ginger Rogers, and a collection of others.
During O'Briant's seventh year of life, she underwent many changes in her life: she received a new baby brother and her parents severed the knot and got a divorce. After suffering from years of sexual abuse and hard work, O'Briant's mother became a single mother of two. This time caused O'Briant much confusion, much of which was expressed in the form of love for her father and resentment towards her mother. On the first day of fourth grade, a group of disheveled school kids laughed at her and picked gravel from beneath their feet to throw at her. After that day, O'Briant was not able to leave the teacher's side, making it difficult to find her place among her peers. In addition, she was at a higher level than the other students in her class, creating one more divider between her and the rest.
O'Briant said that there were only five good things about her school years. One: her mother let her be the tomboy that she was. She could play outside freely, without being forced to spend time working in the house with her mother. Two: she was given a subscription to National Geographic. Her mother worked at a popular restaurant and jazz club that was owned by a famous lesbian woman. Two of her trusty clients, who happened to be a lesbian couple, gave the subscription to the young girl. Third: a young man and friend of her mother was traveling to Spain to study flamenco dancing and left O'Briant with his vinyl discs of Gershwin, Ravel, and Mozart. Four: a new club opened up for girls who wanted to study piano. They did not have to pay a penny. Her mother did not allow her to take classes there because she believed that the teacher was a lesbian, but O'Briant is grateful today for the recognition of musical talent of young girls by that small group of teachers. Five: O'Briant developed a meaningful friendship that would last for years. One day, she confronted her Algebra teacher for picking on her. She was unaware that there was a girl sitting in the corner of the room listening to the conversation, and the girl was the class valedictorian. Her name was Gloria. She was the first person to tell O'Briant that she could go to college and offered to help her get there. Gloria kept her word and actually became O'Briant's first college roommate at the University of New Mexico.
She describes her university years as both difficult and glorious. It was difficult because of O'Briant's tendency to revert to the dream world. During class, she would daydream often and did not have a lot of self-discipline. However, O'Briant was very curious and interested in everything. After her time at the university, she was given many wonderful and promising opportunities. Ultimately, she went to Arizona State for her teaching license. She received, a Master's in Secondary Education, but never used her degree. In addition to this, O'Briant studied her native language: Spanish, for many years. She is not fluent but is able to understand much of the dialect spoken in New Mexico and is able to carry conversations in Mexico, but has more trouble speaking when in Spain. Apart from studying and traveling, O'Briant gained much of her Spanish speaking skills by speaking with her grandmother who only spoke Spanish, when she was a child. However, O'Briant's mother, like many other New Mexicans, faced discrimination for simply speaking her native language. Because of this, she longed for her daughter to be fluent in English, so that she could have the best life possible in America
Sandra Ramos O'Briant is a woman who is captivated by the dream world. She used to sleep twelve hours a night and would use dreams to escape from her reality during the day. She read often during her school years and continued to be fascinated with reading throughout her life. She also finds joy in exercise, for it allows her to call to mind new and interesting places. O'Briant is inspired by the work of Isabelle Allende, a woman famous for her use of passion in all her works. O'Briant is not bound by a single genre, but enjoys writings from various categories. Some of her favorite books include Little Big Man, Interview with a Vampire, House of Spirits, Clan of the Cave Bear, Like Water for Chocolate, and The Color Purple. O'Briant describes her own writing style in one word: eclectic. Her favorite themes are themes of survival, especially if the protagonist is a woman. Some of these might include woman verses nature, woman verses the machine, and woman verses herself. Also, she enjoys stories where the protagonist has to be flexible and creative.
O'Briant longed to be a writer in order to challenge herself. Her goal was to tell a story about women who interested her; women who valiantly confronted the challenges of life. She chose to write about the Sandoval sisters after listening to her mother share stories about them, throughout her life. She was drawn to them because the conflicts they encounter, some of which are racism, sexual-intolerance, the power of superstition, and dealing with their mother-in-laws, are current and relatable. She also included romantic eroticism, which is in line with the content of the ancient Sandoval diaries. The sisters were encouraged to read the diaries and become familiar with their secrets. O'Briant used her creativity to stretch the historical Sandoval sisters to be women who undergo transformation through taking ownership of their own power while living among three distinct cultures. O'Briant used her novel, "The Sandoval Sisters' Secret of Old Blood" to share a story scarcely told: the tale of how women were influenced by the early capture of Santa Fe, New Mexico by the U.S. and the high influx of men that followed.
Sandra Ramos O'Briant had had twenty-two short stories published in addition to her novel. Her love of dreaming and her attraction to creativity and transformation in characters is evident in her original works. She writes in a way that pays tribute to the stories and styles shared in the past while continuing to add innovation and an original perspective to her pieces. O'Briant is representative of a woman living between cultures, always striving to push the norm and uncover hidden ideas and perspectives. She is a dreamer who refuses to dream alone; everyone who picks up her novel or skims her blog is taking part in her dream world.