Thursday, January 5, 2012

Samuel Park

From a Q & A with Samuel Park about his debut novel, This Burns My Heart:

This novel is based on your mother’s story. What inspired you to write it down?

Something really extraordinary happened to my mother the day before her wedding: another man tried to get her to choose him, instead. She was equally attracted to him, but what woman in her right mind goes off with a stranger the day before her wedding? So she said No, and once her own marriage turned into shambles, she began to wonder, “What if.” As a writer, I thought that was an irresistible hook for a novel, and couldn’t resist fictionalizing it. Who was that man? What was their relationship like? Did they ever see each other again? The question that kept coming back to me was, What are the consequences and reverberations of our choices? What does it mean to pick X, instead of Y? Do you still have the life you were supposed to have, or is it another life altogether?

Was your mother involved in the writing process? How much is true, and how much did you fictionalize?

My mother didn’t know I was writing a novel inspired by her life. If I had told her, I would’ve become too self-conscious to continue. She turned out to be ok with it, which was a relief. My mother did ask, however, not to tell people which parts were true, and I’ve really stayed true to my word. It’s been a balancing act—being honest about my inspirations, but also respecting her privacy. I would say that this is a book that is inspired by my mother’s life and her spirit, but at the end of the day, it’s a work of fiction. The characters were borne out of my imagination, and all the real life events were rearranged for dramatic effect.

Did you have to do research on Korean language and customs? How much of your history and culture is a part of your life today?

I read a lot of books, and...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Samuel Park's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: This Burns My Heart.

Writers Read: Samuel Park.

My Book, The Movie: This Burns My Heart.

--Marshal Zeringue