Ronald E. Yates is a multi-award-winning author of historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and highly-acclaimed Finding Billy Battles trilogy. His extraordinarily accurate books have captivated fans from around the world who applaud his ability to blend fact and fiction.
Ron is a former foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and Professor Emeritus of Journalism at the University of Illinois where he was also the Dean of the College of Media.
His book, "The Lost Years of Billy Battles is Book 3 of the trilogy and was published in 2018. "The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles," is the second in his Finding Billy Battles trilogy of novels and was published in June 2016. The first book in the trilogy, "Finding Billy Battles," was published in 2014. All three books have won several awards.
Ron has been a presenting author at the Kansas Book Festival and the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, and the San Diego Book Festival, among other venues. He is also the author of The Kikkoman Chronicles: A Global Company with A Japanese Soul, published by McGraw-Hill. Other books include Aboard the Tokyo Express: A Foreign Correspondent's Journey through Japan, a collection of columns translated into Japanese, as well as three journalism textbooks: The Journalist's Handbook, International Reporting and Foreign Correspondents, and Business and Financial Reporting in a Global Economy.
Before leaving the world of professional journalism where he toiled 25 years, Ron lived and worked in Japan, Southeast Asia, and both Central and South America where he covered several history-making events including the fall of South Vietnam and Cambodia; the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing; and wars and revolutions in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala, among other places.
His work as a war correspondent resulted in several awards, including the Inter-American Press Association's Tom Wallace Award for coverage of Central and South America; the Peter Lisagor Award from the Society of Professional Journalists; three Edward Scott Beck Awards for International Reporting, and three Pulitzer nominations.
Ron is a proud graduate of the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas and a veteran of the U.S. Army where he served in the Army Security Agency. He lives in the Southern California wine country north of San Diego, California.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Probably when I was in the sixth grade. I loved writing stories and I had a teacher (Mrs. Gooch) who encouraged me. My mother also bought me books and took me often to the library--a place that I found mystical and magnetic. She often read to me and I could "see" the story unfolding before me. When I could, I began to read everything I could get my hands on. As I used to tell my journalism students at the University of Illinois, if you want to be a good writer, be an avid reader.
Q. What was your inspiration to write the Finding Billy Battles Trilogy?
I grew up in Kansas and was always fascinated by what life was like there in the 19th Century when the state was still pretty wild. At the same time, I spent a lot of time in the Far East as a foreign correspondent and I was equally intrigued by what life must have been like in the 19th Century colonial period in places like French Indochina, The Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc. Then one day I got the idea to blend the two using a character from 19th Century Kansas who goes to the Far East in search of himself.
As Book 3 of the Finding Billy Battles trilogy begins, it is 1914 and Billy is living peacefully in Chicago with his wife, Katharina. That tranquility is disrupted by a telephone call from a powerful old friend that yanks Billy and Katharina back into a life of havoc and peril in Mexico during the height of its violent 1910-1920 revolution.
The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles is the second book of the Finding Billy Battles trilogy.The trilogy tells the story of a man who is born in 1860 and who dies in 1960. In between Billy lives an improbable and staggering life of adventure, peril, transgression, and redemption. Then Billy mysteriously disappears. For several decades his family has no idea where he is or what he is doing.