Here's what John Shors, author of Dragon House, has to say about the plight of street children in contemporary Vietnam.
Interview with John Shors
1. What first drew you to the history of the Vietnam War and to visit Vietnam?
I lived in Asia for several years, and was in close proximity to Vietnam. Of course, the country's history had always fascinated me. I had heard both sides of the arguement regarding U.S. involvement in the war there, and was interested in coming to my own conclusions. I continue to think that Vietnam is one of the most interesting countries in the world.
2. Were there specific street children that impressed you during your trips?
I spent many nights in Thailand playing Connect Four with a boy who in some ways inspired one of my characters in Dragon House. This boy was remarkable--smart, brave, and hard-working. I met hundreds of street children in Asia, and had wonderful conversations and interactions with them. I couldn't have been more impressed with the tenacity of these children.
3. What other Asian countries are featured in your novels? Did you travel extensively in those areas as well?
My first novel, Beneath a Marble Sky, is based on the story behind the creation of the Taj Mahal. I spent a month in India researching it. My second novel, Beside a Burning Sea, is set in The South Pacific during WWII, and again, I spent about a month in that area. My fourth novel, which I'm currently working on, occurs in seven countries in Asia, all of which I've spent a fair amount of time in and know well. In order for me to bring a place to life on the page, I need to have experienced it firsthand. Some writers don't work that way, but it's necessary for me.
4. Do you plan a follow-up novel to this one in Vietnam, or are you moving on to other locales?
Well, my fourth novel, which is called The Wishing Trees and will come out in September of 2010, takes place in Japan, India, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Egypt. It's a lot of fun for me to bring these places and cultures to life in my novels.
5. Anything else you would like to add?
I am grateful for the support of my readers, and I try to share that support with others. With regard to Dragon House, I am donating some of my royalties to an organization that supports homeless children. If anyone would like more information on Dragon House, please visit www.dragonhousebook.com
Thanks for sharing your experiences with us, John!
(See my Review of Dragon House here or in the post below). The book will be released Sept. 1, 2009.