The invasion of the original Asian vampires has already begun with an Indiegogo campaign that is now LIVE for my forthcoming novel, Rise of the Golden Aura.
We all have dreams. And we all love inspiring stories.
Ninety years ago, William Warder Norton launched a publishing company that bears his name, W.W. Norton. He started out with three people working from his living room. Today, it’s one of the most prestigious publishers in America, and the publisher of my internationally acclaimed memoir, When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up Under the Khmer Rouge.
“Books are the weapons in the battle of ideas,” said Norton. Rise of the Golden Aura is my weapon in the battle of ideas in the vampire genre.
I love vampire novels, but was hungry for something that would breathe new life into the vampire genre so popular all over the world. But the years went by, and nothing emerged.
As a successful and ambitious author, that sounded like a call to action. As a Cambodian-American, I was moved to write a different kind of vampire story, a fresh and new one, that would bring ancient Asian vampire mythology and customs into the dramas of the modern world, and abandon the tired old Western versions that have dominated movies and literature for the last hundred years.
When a traditional Asian vampire flies, nothing is seen but a glowing head with internal organs dangling below. But my vampires break even that mold. They are translucent, wild and spellbinding, and drip with dark mystery and spirituality. The invasion of the original Asian vampires is long overdue! Get real! 60% of the world’s population, or 4.3 billion people, are Asian. And not one 21st-century Asian vampire?
On June 29, 2013, I pitched my Asian vampire concept, Rise of the Golden Aura, to the California Institute of Contemporary Arts. They were so excited that they awarded me a grant to write it the very next day. Later, they additionally funded my trip to Cambodia, where I researched ancient Khmer sites, such as the Bayon Temple.
For the next three years, I poured my heart and soul into the novel. Emerging from it all, exhausted but fulfilled, I realized I had an inspirational vampire tale unlike any other, bursting from its pages to thrill and entertain readers everywhere.
Inspired by W.W. Norton’s rags to riches story, the indie author movement and Shark Tank (ABC’s #1 Hit TV Show), my childhood entrepreneurial spirit was rekindled. My literary agent had previously sold my memoir, When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up Under the Khmer Rouge, to Norton. But this time, I would strike off on my own. I established Moon Power Media, an independent book publisher, to publish Rise of the Golden Aura, future books in the series, and other independent literary ventures.
I've taken this path because becoming an independent publisher is important to me. It allows me to retain my artistic direction, improve my income, and market books in ways better suited to their target audience.
I'm very excited about the story I've told. Not only is it a refreshing new take on the genre, with vampire physiology, customs, and culture unfamiliar to the Western world, but it provides a glimpse into life from the Asian perspective, and into the struggles of the millions of those born in the US to native Asian parents, living with one foot in the new world and one foot in the old.
The history of Asia has been quite different from the West. Basic values and outlooks have remained unchanged for thousands of years, as has Asia's history of war, genocide, oppression and conflict. Youth grow up with a different worldview and values, one in which hard work and self-deprivation equate with self-worth, and family and elders are life's greatest motivation.
My own culture and values carried me through my childhood years as a captive slave under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, and through the loss of my beloved brothers, sisters, and parents, one by one. They allowed me to come to the US as a 16-year-old teenager with my spirit battered but unbroken, and to go forward into life with an ethic of hard work, accomplishment, family values, and respect for others.
As an Asian-American author, I saw a lack of literature featuring the struggles of Asian youth: young adults attempting to succeed in the modern world with ancient values, struggling to help their family, honor their elders and not disgrace their ancestors, and to put hard work and dedication above personal pleasure. It's a fascinating world if you haven't been there, and I wanted to give Westerners a glimpse into it.
Hopefully, Rise of the Golden Aura will make a difference in the lives of young adults everywhere. Inspired by real events of the past and present, it is a unique mix of family and friendship values, redemption, the struggles of PTSD, leadership, humor, Khmer legend and actual world events.
JD Bophatip, the hero of my novel, is an Asian teen of substance, on her way to becoming a great leader. Abandoned as a child, and struggling to adapt to life in a new world, she learns that she has been targeted for destruction by terrifying supernatural forces of darkness. As these powers begin to envelop her, she discovers unknown strengths sleeping within that allow her to confront, battle, and ultimately triumph over hate and evil. JD is a young woman fighting to rise above life's difficulties and be all she can be. JD’s life is joyful, meaningful, and important.
Aside from wanting to bring forth an original and exotic vampire novel, I wrote Rise of the Golden Aura to allow readers everywhere to experience the Asian world of self-fulfillment, and hopefully, be made a better person for it. My dream is to spread the word of empowerment, self-confidence, adventurousness, and positive family values to our young people everywhere.
Chanrithy Him is the author of the forthcoming memoir, “Unbroken Spirit: A Cambodian Child Survivor’s Journey for Personal Justice”