iUniverse author Vicheara Houn continues her autobiographical endeavor with the second volume of Bamboo Promise, subtitled The Last Straw.
Please briefly describe your book . . .
Bamboo Promise: The Last Straw is the continuation of my autobiography Bamboo Promise: Prison Without Walls. Both volumes of Bamboo Promise constitute my autobiography. Since I am certainly not a famous person, I am sure there are questions about why I would think anyone other than my family and close friends would be interested in my autobiography and why I would expend so much of my time and energy to write it.
I am a member of a small minority group who suffered through and survived a 20th century genocide that is unknown by the vast, vast majority of people. I lived through the Cambodian Genocide which occurred from 1975 to 1979. Over two million Cambodians were starved, tortured and murdered while the world stood by and did nothing. As a survivor, I believe their story needs to be told. Since I have only my experience – what I saw, I felt, I lived through – I have told the story as my personal struggle to survive.
Like most survivors of horrific events, I have battled PTSD in all the years that followed. Volume 2 of Bamboo Promise was written because I have found a way to battle the PTSD demons. I believe that many others who have not benefitted from pharmacological and psychological approaches to heal PTSD may well benefit also. Again, I use my personal narrative to describe how the events following my years in the Genocide, including my escape to a refugee camp and over a decade in abusive marriage, conspired to bring me to the point where life was no longer worth the effort to take another breath. But then I found a way and I want to share my insights in hopes that they can help others because I know how intense the pain is.
Do you have any particular literary influences?
I read the few books available by other Cambodian Genocide survivors. I felt my story was different since my background was quite different. I did a lot of research to be sure I had the historical facts correct. My biggest problem was my poor English. I was educated in both Cambodian and French and am fluent in both but English has been a struggle. Luckily, I had a family member who took on the task of translating my fractured prose into standard English.
What inspired you to write your book, and how long did it take you to finish it?
It took me three years to finish this book. My first book took much longer as it started as a letter to my deceased father and ended up as a book. I found that writing a book, especially about my own story, was very difficult and often very painful. Many times, I got so emotionally overwhelmed that I forgot I was no longer living the nightmare. I felt pain, anger, and hurt. But, nothing could stop me one I started. I kept going – digging down to expose how PTSD develops and then is nourished by the characters in the story.
What is the one message you would like to convey to your readers?
Hope. There is always hope as long as you are alive. Never give up. Persist.
Are you working on a sequel to your book?
Yes, it will be Bamboo Promise Vol. 3.
Are there any events, marketing ideas or promotions planned for your book? Please feel free to mention any accolades you have received.
Book signings at the bookstores and presentations to local groups such as Rotary.
What was your favorite part of your publishing experience, overall and with iUniverse?
Book cover design layout.
Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Life has a story to tell. Any story always has a beginning and an end. Find yourself as the beginning of the story because you are the one who owns the story. When you tell people about your story they must want to know the end. Write down one sentence at a time for fun then you will find more pages to follow because your brain will keep asking more like people do.