ontinuing the popular series of HOLLYWOOD SPY'S EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS
, today I'm chatting with one of my dear friends, bestselling, utterly wise and super charming author Samuel Park
, the writer of THIS BURNS MY HEART
novel, published for one of world's most famous publishing houses
SIMON & SCHUSTER
The book just got into Amazon's top 100 best books of 2011 list. Ever so kind, Samuel gave me one copy of his novel for a giveaway, so leave a comment on the post, and I will announce the lucky winner this Saturday!
riginally born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Korean-American author Samuel Park
graduated from Stanford University and USC, where he earned his doctorate in English. He lives in Chicago, where he is an Assistant Professor of English at Columbia College.
DEZZ SAM, TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT THE STORY OF YOUR NOVEL "THIS BURNS MY HEART", AND TELL ME WHERE DID YOU FIND THE INSPIRATION FOR IT? I HEARD IT'S A VERY PERSONAL STORY.SAM T
his Burns My Heart is about a woman who has to choose between two men, and makes the wrong choice. Then, she has to figure out how to live her life once she has that burden, and realizes she's a much stronger person than she thought. The book is inspired by something that happened to my mother in real life. The day before her wedding, a stranger asked her to go on a date with him. She said No, of course, but she spent the rest of her life wondering who that man was, and what would've happened if she'd chosen him instead of my father.
DEZZ THAT PLOT IS EXTREMELY INTRIGUING, SAM! "THIS BURNS MY HEART" HAS BEEN PUBLISHED BY ONE OF WORLD'S BIGGEST PUBLISHERS "SIMON & SCHUSTER", IT IS NOW IN AMAZON'S TOP 100 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR, YOU GOT AMAZING REVIEWS, A PRAISE FROM "PEOPLE MAGAZINE" AND AUDREY NIFFENEGGER THE AUTHOR OF "THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE" AND MANY OTHER WORLD WIDE FAMOUS WRITERS, SO, SAM, HOW DO YOU LIKE ALL THE REACTIONS, THE SALES, THE SUCCESS? WHAT HAVE YOU ENJOYED MOST?SAM I
was completely surprised by all the exciting things that happened. When I got that blurb from Audrey Niffenegger
, I was on the phone with a friend and I literally started screaming, "Oh my God! Oh my God!" And then when I found out about the Amazon thing (a fellow blogger, Sherrie Petersen, actually told me about that), I actually thought it was a mistake, and I kept refreshing the page over and over. I thought it was a kindle thing; I couldn't believe it was the actual Best of the Month
thing. And then the host of the Today Show
talked about the book on-air, and it was completely surreal. I enjoyed all of these things- but one of the things I've enjoyed the most is hearing from women of that actual generation- Korean women who are now in their 60s and 70s. I had one such reader come up to me after a reading and tell me how "Korean" the book is, and how true it felt to her own knowledge of Korea -that was really nice.
DEZZ THAT MUST HAVE FELT GRATIFYING, SAM, BUT I'M NOT SURPRISED SINCE "THIS BURNS MY HEART" SEEMS QUITE EPIC AND ROMANTIC. HAVE YOU THOUGHT OF A MOVIE OR TV ADAPTATION? WHICH DIRECTORS AND ACTORS WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE IN IT?SAM I
think the book would be too hard to adapt -it would have to be at least three hours long and cost a gazillion dollars. It has so many different periods, settings, and a huge cast. If there were to be a film adaptation, I feel like it should be done by Korean filmmakers and actors in Korea. I'm a big fan of Korean cinema, especially directors like Bong Joon-Ho
("Mother") and Kim Ki-Duk
("Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring"). For the part of Soo-Ja, I picture someone like Han Hyo-Joo
, who I think is a brilliant actress. She's done mostly TV dramas in Korea, but she has an air of decency and quiet strength that really fits Soo-Ja, the heroine.
DEZZ AND DO YOU SEE MOVIES AND TV AS A SOURCE OF CREATIVE INSPIRATION? I KNOW THAT YOU DIRECTED A SHORT MOVIE BASED ON YOUR NOVELLA "SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS"SAM I
absolutely do. I get a lot of inspiration from movies, as I find them to be incredibly immediate and powerful. I watched a lot of old Korean films as part of my research, and one in particular, "Madame Freedom," had a huge influence on the book. The movie documents really well the impact of Western music and fashions on 60s Korea, and that's one of the subplots of the book -the struggle between ancient traditions of filial and parental duty versus the temptations of Western beliefs in individualism and freedom.
THIS BURNS MY HEARTS
amuel Park’s epic tale THIS BURNS MY HEART
begins the day before Soo-Ja Choi’s marriage, as a mysterious and handsome doctor approaches her for a date. She declines the invitation, choosing instead a world that leaves her trapped with suffocating customs. In a post-war
South Korea torn between past and present, Soo-Ja struggles to find happiness in a loveless marriage—and to carve out a successful future for her only daughter. But in a land where wives have no rights and mothers own little, her only hope for survival is to remember the lessons of the four tenets of Confucian tradition: perseverance, strength, loyalty and grace. Will this be enough to lead a beautiful and ambitious young woman to fulfillment or will she be forced to live out her days wondering, “What if?”
rawing from the memories of his mother, Samuel Park
masterfully weaves together an enduring and sensitively told love story with a portrait of a nation rising out of poverty into a major world power. THIS BURNS MY HEART
is a memorable debut that is destined to become a classic love story.
made the short film in L.A., back when I lived there. It's impossible to live in L.A. and not make films! They hand you a high-def camera and Final Draft when you land in the airport. But seriously, I was very lucky to work with some really impressive people. I don't see myself directing again, but it was a really fun experience. Sometimes when you're in love with a story, you want to see it in different forms -as a play, as a short film, as a book. It's like dressing up your lover in different outfits. You get to rediscover and re-engage each time.
DEZZ PUTTING FILMS ASIDE, SAM, SINCE HOLLYWOOD SPY IS READ BY TONES OF FELLOW WRITERS, DO YOU HAVE SOME ADVICE FOR THEM?SAM M
y advice is to write about things that you are truly, genuinely invested in, instead of chasing trends or genres. If you care deeply about what you're saying, the reader will smell your investment and get equally engaged. Having said that, you have to write in a genre that sells. What I'd do is look at the New York
Times best seller (adult or young adult), and see what's a book that you could've written or would be interested in writing. Then write a book similar to that book, in terms of genre. Also, remember that writing is not a lottery ticket, a means to make money -writing is about loving a craft that makes you feel a sense of mastery, makes you feel good about yourself. Everything else -money, attention, publication- is gravy. Having said that, it's particularly yummy tasting gravy!
nother piece of advice I would give is to be patient. Writers often expect to sell a book too soon. I've been writing seriously since I was 18 years old, when I started to have plays produced. That's an almost two-decade period of apprenticeship. I do strongly believe that everyone has their moment -it just comes at different times for different people. Some writers get published in their early 20s, and we never hear from them again. Some reach their peak in their 50s. Everyone's on a different path, and so it's pointless to feel envious. No one else can write the book that you want to write. I personally think it's better to toil in anonymity for years and then sell a book, then sell a book early on and never be able to match that success again.
DEZZ I'M SURE YOU'VE ENJOYED YOUR GRAVY, SAM :) BUT AFTER THE MEGA SUCCESS OF YOUR NOVEL, I GUESS YOU FEEL THE PRESSURE OF WRITING A NEW BOOK. ANY PLANS? GIVE US SOME WORLD EXCLUSIVE INFO ON YOUR W.I.P. :)SAM W
ell, I actually don't know that much about the new book myself, as I've just started it, but I can tell you it's about a mother/daughter relationship. In that sense, it's similar to THIS BURNS MY HEART
. I have a poet friend who tells me that the germ for every new book of poetry can be found in the preceding book. So I guess the new book will expand on the mother-daughter theme, which is one of many themes in THIS BURNS MY HEART
. Rest assured, though, that as soon as I know more, I will give you that exclusive info that you want! Anything for Hollywood Spy!
DEZZ OH, I LOVE IT WHEN YOU'RE AIMING TO PLEASE THE SPY :) BESIDE WRITING, YOU ARE ALSO A PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH AT COLUMBIA COLLEGE, BUT WHAT DOES SAM DO IN HIS FREE TIME? IS THERE ANY TIME FOR HOBBIES? WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU ARE NOT WITH YOUR STUDENTS AND WHEN YOU ARE NOT WORLD'S NEW WRITING SENSATION? :)SAM O
h, I love the way you describe that! Can I put that on a sticker for my car windows? :) My hobbies, to be honest, consist mostly of watching TV. I watch an embarrassing amount of reality television: Survivor, Top Chef, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Wow, writing that, I'm realizing how lame I am; I may have to pick up a few new hobbies soon...
DEZZ AH, AS IF YOU WOULD HAVE TIME FOR A HOBBY BESIDE WRITING WORLD'S NEXT BESTSELLER, SAM :) I MUST THANK YOU FOR THE LOVELY CHAT, YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I ENJOY OUR LITTLE TALKS. SAM T
hank you so much for having me on your blog. It's been an absolute pleasure and honor! Very glad we're pals!
TO WIN A COPY OF "THIS BURNS MY HEART" LEAVE A COMMENT. YOU GET ADDITIONAL POINTS IF YOU POST THE COVER OR THE RIGHTSIDE BAR ADD FOR THE INTERVIEW ALONG WITH THE LINK AT YOUR SITE :)