Asian Superstar’s Book “Finding Julia,” Based on the Movie, on Sale Now!
By: Judy Shields
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 12/21/2017 – “I hope that readers of the book will empathize more with the characters in “Finding Julia”, in which I was an actress, producer and concept creator.” Said Ha Phuong, author of new book Finding Julia.
Finding Julia, the book based on Asian singing and acting sensation Ha Phuong’s new feature film, is now available.
Inspired by events in Phuong’s real life, Finding Julia tells the story of a Eurasian acting student, Julia Chamonix, who’s haunted by the tragic death of her Vietnamese mother — a former star actress and singer in Vietnam — and her own secret desires. Caught between two cultures, East and West, Julia questions if she will ever fit in anywhere.
“I looked at Julia and immediately thought of the young girls in Vietnam, of my nieces from the countryside who always dream of America,” says Phuong. “Everything has its own price and it will take a few generations to adapt to the American way of life, and it has nothing to do with how rich they are.”
Published by HP Productions Inc., the book will be available on the Finding Julia website, www.findingjulia.net, and on Amazon.
The film version of Finding Julia stars Phuong in the title role of Julia, Andrew McCarthy as her father and Richard Chamberlain as her demanding acting coach. Finding Julia premiered Oct. 28 at the Third Annual Asian World Film Festival in Los Angeles.
After scoring many best-selling albums and popular videos in her native Vietnam, Phuong is now an established New Yorker building her U.S. career. She recently released a new music video featuring her new English language single, the hauntingly beautiful “Lost in a Dream,” with profits going to her two philanthropic entities for children in Vietnam and the United States.
The interview with Ha Phuong:
The Hollywood Times (THT): Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Ha Phuong: “I rarely talk about myself, so the best way to find out more is to visit my website haphuongworld.com. It contains a lot of my history as I worked my way into the hearts of Vietnamese audiences, as a pop singer, an actress and philanthropist. Even though I consider myself a Vietnamese American, I still put forth great effort to reach out to audiences through my accomplishments. This time, it isn’t only for Vietnamese audiences but for those in the US. Obviously, as we all know, reaching an American audience means reaching a global one.”
THT: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Ha Phuong : “Literature and art are pursuits that require a great deal of aspiration and passion. In order to become a well-known singer and actress in Vietnam, and to be successful in my second home, the US, I have to hold these two great dreams, dear to my heart. Literature can attain greatness by enduring in culture for decades, even before the birth of cinema. I came to it with no ambition nor aspiration of fame, but with sincerity, and in hopes that the readers of the book will be inspired to watch the film.”
THT: Which writers inspire you?
Ha Phuong: “I don’t read enough, but I do love adaptations of books to the silver screen. Thus, I never miss films that are based on famous novels like “Gone with the Wind,” “The Godfather,” and “The Thorn Birds”. Among these novels, only “The Godfather” was written by a male author. It inspires me that female authors have such a knack for depicting emotions, which is why film makers so often choose to adapt their works to the big screen. It always turns out to be rewarding for everyone. As a passionate fan of film, I hoped to close the gap in understanding between the book and the film, and my collaboration with Judy Katz on “Finding Julia” really helped.”
THT: What’s the book about?
Ha Phuong: “You may read it to feel the solitude of a Vietnamese American who grows up without a mother, and must face the odds of existing between two cultures as well as her obsession with her mother’s death. She cannot feel fulfilled despite a prosperous life from her father’s inheritance.”
THT: What made you decide to sit down and actually start writing something?
Ha Phuong: “Since movies cannot include the level of detail that a novel can, or the viewer may being too distracted to catch every detail or have time for a second viewing, I hope the book will help them understand the story better.”
THT: Do you write full-time or part-time? Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
Ha Phuong: “I am a full-time mom and wife (daytime usually) therefore writing and performing art has become a part-time job. The ideal time for writing is often at night or midnight when my husband is away on business and the children are asleep. We often joke with work partners that in order to accomplish anything, we have to “steal” time from family happiness. (It seems that male writers do not share that sentiment)”
THT: What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Ha Phuong: “The hardest thing for me in writing this book, just like the difficulty that the character of Julia confronts when learning how to act, is still English. Julia’s father is American and her mother is Vietnamese, and both of my parents are Vietnamese. So I start with mother’s language of Vietnamese to write every emotion out, then have them translated into English. My uncertainty causes me to revise the English’s translation over and over again in effort to cross check whether it conveyed correctly as I wanted. To complete such a process, we spent a great deal of time.”
THT: What is the easiest thing about writing?
Ha Phuong: “The fact that I had such intense feeling for the stories and that I have experienced and witnessed these things in my life was the easiest thing about writing. The source material was true, so it helped make the story more alive. The stories about facing culture shock, or even the Oedipus complex, which in this case occur between father and daughter, are known to many, but only a few people know how to push those things to meaningful climax in the art work, like we did.”
THT: How do you market your books?
Ha Phuong: “I am currently experiencing Marketing tool on Facebook and working with Vietnamese media to get exposure with my Vietnamese fans around the world. Those fans will be with me in the initial steps and give me the confidence to recommend the book to friends globally.”
THT: Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
Ha Phuong: “I enjoy reading female authors who write about female protagonists, especially those that involve the women’s issues that I care about. I’m also interested in stories about talented women, a virtue that creates miracles in life. I am also aware of the impermanence of life, you may shine for a while but it doesn’t mean that it will follow you in until the end of life. The life stories of many famous women gave me that lesson.”
THT: Where can you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Ha Phuong: “Five years ago, I put all of my effort into the movie and the book. In order to maximize my ability to share emotions, I needed to study and practice music, acting, and English while simultaneously trying to advance life and work. With my singing technique, my coach was very helpful, and surprised by my persistence and improvement. I was already a successful singer, but I had to put it on hold to focus on family and now that I have resumed my career, I consider it a fresh start in a new environment. Now that the film and book are finished, I need to continue my study and training until my next appearance, maybe soon, maybe five years from now. I have strength of spirit and I hope that my future work will not be a disappointment to anyone.”
THT: Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
Ha Phuong: “The first and last words of every conversation I have regardless of the work is always thanks to my life-long partner for his understanding and for enabling his wife to accomplish this work. Yes, I have great interest in the majority of women in the book as well as in life and I appreciate their perseverance to overcome adversity alone, yet I recognize that if your partner is always willing to offer support, the road to the destination will be much shorter.”