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Child Survivor, International Speaker, Social Justice Activist, Author & Khmer Classical Dancer.
Winner of the Oregon Book Award
Finalist for the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize
Finalist for the Pen USA West Literary Award
Hello. Welcome to my website.
I love storytelling, international speaking, and teasing my audiences with my good-natured sense of humor after my talks, especially during Q & A.
I'm glad you're here.
"If one advances confidently in the directions of his dreams and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours." ― Henry David Thoreau
A message to my past and future readers, hosts and audiences:
A number of you have asked me when I will finish Unbroken Spirit: A Child Survivor's Quest for Justice and A Chance to Heal, the sequel to When Broken Glass Floats. One of my answers, to a teacher assistant at Brigham Young University Provo Campus, was "You have to hold your horses" while I work on other projects, other dreams. :-)
Right now I'm looking for a film producer, film agent/manager, and financiers who are interested in making When Broken Glass Floats into a feature film. If you are interested in my screenplay, or if you know of someone who might be interested in producing my screenplay, please contact me.
This mockup movie poster was designed by my friend Kevin Henderson to keep me focused and inspired as I painfully worked on my script.
Academy Award-winning Director Mel Gibson, the man who could be directing WHEN BROKEN GLASS FLOATS in the near future....
Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
"When Broken Glass Floats," the Screenplay
It has always been my dream to write screenplays, especially adapting When Broken Glass Floats into one. Now the project is finished.
On July 19, 2021, Karen Baldwin, the Oscar-nominated producer of Ray, wrote me a wonderful letter of endorsement after reading WHEN BROKEN GLASS FLOATS during her vacation. It was on the day I was leaving for mine, a MUCH-NEEDED vacation after a very exhausting and painful journey to finish the script.
Upon reading her email - while I was waiting to catch a flight to come home in the San Francisco International airport, on August 3, 2021 - I was thankful for Ms. Baldwin's support, articulated in her kind and heartfelt words that deeply understood my story! She gets me. I'm eternally grateful.
The lovely lady Karen Baldwin flanked by her producer husband Howard Baldwin & Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx
PRAISE for WHEN BROKEN GLASS FLOATS
After a former Vice President of Development at United Artists analyzed my script, WHEN BROKEN GLASS FLOATS, she wrote to me as follows:
“The major studios tend to gravitate towards blockbusters these days featuring action, special effects and brands...but they also look for epic films, such as yours, which have the potential to win major awards.
“WHEN BROKEN GLASS FLOATS” definitely has the potential to be a film of epic proportions. It will be extremely expensive to produce. A major American studio is your best option as a producing entity or a production company with major studio ties.
One production company which might be appropriate for your film is Mel Gibson’s Icon Productions. Icon Productions finances its own films, they are able to produce screenplays they believe in without having to bend to the mandates of major studios. This means that certain themes in your film which a major studio might fear, such as the negative portrayal of the United States and its part in the Cambodian crisis, are not an issue for Icon.
The redemptive, uplifting themes of your screenplay might have great appeal to Mr. Gibson.
An interviewer mentioned to Gibson: “So many of your films have themes of sacrifice, redemption and intense violence." He agreed and noted that there is an art to portraying violence in a way that is real; but that audiences can bear. He might well be the perfect director for your film.
Unbroken Spirit: A Child Survivor's Quest for Justice and Healing,
the Sequel to When Broken Glass Floats
Rise of the Golden Aura, A Romantic Vampire Fantasy YA Novel
Photo by Dy Leng
A reader from Norway, who had endured hardship during his childhood, once asked me a question: "After what you went through in Cambodia, how can you go on every day?"
I seldom answer my readers, audiences and hosts via e-mail, but I do answer personal questions during my appearances. However, let me warn you, if you are brave enough to ask me personal questions, brace yourself for a good-natured tease.
I like to fill my life with humor and optimism. In spite of the pain and suffering that the Khmer Rouge and other outside leaders have caused me, they will never take away that better part of me.
As a survivor, I have good coping mechanisms. One of my dreams is to transcend those who have hurt me by using my gift of storytelling to educate, entertain, inspire and empower readers and audiences worldwide. Those who experienced my upbeat and descriptive writing style in When Broken Glass Floats will be happy to find the same unique elements of creativity, imagination, and expository storytelling in my uplifting novel Rise of the Golden Aura.
Rise of the Golden Aura is a cross-culture, vampire-romance fantasy for young adults and adults alike. My literary agent Meredith Bernstein is looking for the right home for it. This project was kindly funded by the California Institute of Contemporary Arts.
Photo by Dy Leng
The Golden Projects
Cambodian Book Tour:
Dedicated to Cambodia's
Present and Future Generations
I have always wanted to tour Cambodia to accomplish three of my dreams that I call “The Golden Projects.” They consist of translating and printing into Cambodian my two books, When Broken Glass Floats and Rise of the Golden Aura and conducting a two-week book tour in Cambodia to promote them. Here is the story behind my dreams, rooted in my tragic years growing up under the Khmer Rouge....
Below book cover is the Cambodian edition of When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up Under the Khmer Rouge.
Photo taken at the Wahrenbrock Family School in Cambodia (2005)
The Golden Projects
In 1976, I was eleven years old. My mom was still alive but dying from starvation and lack of medical care under the Khmer Rouge’s heartless domination. I prayed endlessly that the world would come to help us before I lost her forever.
No one came.
In the summer of 1977, while she was still alive, the Khmer Rouge threw my mother into a well of corpses because she was too ill to be of any further use to them.
Today, I am a child no longer. As an adult U.S. citizen, I can now pursue and achieve the goals that I set for myself. And I haven't forgotten what that little girl wanted in 1977.
In 2005 I was invited to speak about When Broken Glass Floats at the University of Cambodia. There I spoke to an audience made up of students and foreign professionals who helped rebuild Cambodia.
When I finished, several students came to the podium. They expressed shock at what they had just heard, and disappointment that they could not get this information from their elders. The latter was no surprise to me. I knew from my experience as a research interviewer for the Khmer Adolescent Project that those who went through the Khmer Rouge era still have great difficulty speaking about it. As a result, those born after the end of the Khmer Rouge know little about this important piece of their history. And they know little about what is really in the hearts of their family members who went through it.
Finally, one of the students spoke up on behalf of the others. He fervently said in Cambodian, “We want to read ‘Elder Sister’s’ book in Khmer, but it’s only in English. We don’t know much English yet. What can we do?”
I remembered my own experiences in the Thai refugee camps, when I wanted so badly to learn English but didn’t have the money to pay an English teacher. When I heard that the Thai soldiers were searching to destroy my English textbooks, I ran as fast as I could from my school to my quad to hide them. I know well what a book can mean to someone who is hungry for education.
It is because of these experiences that I am inspired to make my book available in the Cambodian language to any Cambodian who wants to read it.
Sadly, forty-one years after the Khmer Rouge were ousted, Cambodia still doesn’t have a professional publisher. The English edition of my memoir can be purchased in Cambodia, but the book is pirated and mostly sold to tourists. (It was always ironic when one of these tourists graciously asked me to autograph a pirated copy.) Many Cambodians cannot afford to pay the price of translation and printing costs for a Cambodian edition of When Broken Glass Floats.
If you would like to help, and believe in this cause, please contribute to the “Golden Projects,” so I can make my book available to Cambodians at a price they can pay.
Please empower me to help current and future generations of Cambodians to learn about and never forget what happened.
To contribute via PayPal, please click on the gold "Donate" button on the left. Thank you!