It’s said that we’ve all got a book in us. I was fortunate enough, living in the age of self-publishing, to find that out for myself. In my case, it took me six years of hard labor—labor of love, as it’s called—to research, write, and publish my first book, Once upon a Mulberry Field, a historical novel/love story set during the Vietnam War. It was the one book I had wanted to write all my adult life, to tell the stories I believed needed to be told. But writing and publishing the book is one thing, trying to get it out there into the hands of its intended audience is a whole other matter. Suffice it to say that the latter has proved an even more challenging and sobering experience.
I must admit there have been moments of self-doubt and second-guessing when I actually wondered if I hadn’t bitten off more than I could chew. With the extraordinary amount of print and electronic material available to readers nowadays, it is quite a tall order to compete for any kind of attention, to cause even a tiny ripple in that huge pond of books. But such discouraging thoughts, in my case, are quickly dispelled whenever I get to share my book with a live audience at a book club, library, or any of various other organizations (as listed on the “About the Author” page of my website).
At many of those small, intimate venues, I’ve had the honor and the pleasure of meeting veterans, most of them Vietnam War veterans, and listening to them share their inspiring personal stories. Their warm reception of Once upon a Mulberry Field and their kind words of appreciation and encouragement have touched me deeply and are the greatest reward I could ever expect. They have made those years of hard work more than worthwhile and have reaffirmed my own belief in what I’m doing.
So it is with joy and great appreciation that I’d like to share some of the comments left by those veterans and their families on my blog page, email, and Amazon book page:
. . . What C.L. Hoang has accomplished in this memorable novel is to reawaken a part of history that so desperately needs to be re-examined. . . . For those of us who served in Vietnam in 1968 – 1970 those memories we thought best submerged need to come forth, allowing us to examine them and never repeat them. What Hoang has provided is a table to which he invites us to see that war from both sides and in doing so understand the trauma inflicted on all involved, lasting into the present for many. . . . But this brief summary doesn’t begin to convey the depth of reliving the multifaceted ways he explores in his novel. The story is rich and beautifully told, but the impact is like the afterburn: it is more deeply felt with the passage of time.
“Once upon a Mulberry Field” connected me to my father again. He served two tours in Vietnam and my mother and sister and brother and I waited at home for him. This tender story set in in that dreadful war is a comforting companion all these years later. Stunning description, genuine dialog, and merciless action scenes bring the whole war experience into a modern light.
What a thrill to read this novel from a number of angles. First, the writing was brilliant, and I marveled at his command of the English language. Second, as a Vietnam Vet, I saw another perspective about the war, the personal side between two cultures. Third, the descriptions of the war milieu brought back memories of 45 years. I was amazed at the knowledge that Mr. Hoang possessed about the American military. Once past the character development phase, I was rewarded with a personal and emotional story with twists and turns that affected the American hero and the Vietnamese protagonists. I couldn’t put the book down. At the end, I had leaky eyes which showed the author’s writing skills of story development and of description. As I read, I felt I was placed in the scene itself. Vietnam veterans and others will benefit from this engaging adventure. Well done.
For anyone who experienced the Vietnam war or any war, first hand or through a loved one, C.L. Hoang’s beautifully crafted novel is a must-read. From captivating descriptions of the lush landscape of Vietnam and its charming people to quiet interludes between battles and tragic losses, I was moved to tears. I bought multiple copies for friends and family. My husband was stationed at Bien Hoa Airbase in 1967, but not until reading this novel, did I begin to understand what it was really like.
. . . Praise GOD you have written this book! So many will have a great healing and loving response to what you have written. . . .
. . . “Once Upon A Mulberry Field” may be the finest expression ever written of that tremulous time in Saigon and the lives of Vietnamese and Americans alike so intertwined and dramatically affected. I was there as a young U.S. Naval officer in 1964 – 1965 and privileged to be there again as I read this marvelous novel that is as true as life in its account of lives and loves transcending the upheaval of the Mulberry Fields.
. . . The book touched me on so many levels, as a veteran myself I could think back and remember saying goodbye to a girlfriend, anxiously awaiting that care package, but I cannot imagine the pain of being 18 years old and being drafted and sent to fight a war you probably didn’t even understand. The story was love, being changed, friendships made and lost, acquaintances discovered and lost for decades. It was about engagements and broken dreams – rediscovered hope, and lost opportunities. I believe this book should be a movie and would be a tremendous read for any High School literature class, because the possibilities for open discussion are endless.
I was in country with the 5th Group up in Pleiku from Nov. 1967 thru October 1968. I never got down to Saigon. The way that you wrote your book, I feel like I’m familiar with the area. . . . I’ve told every Nam vet that I come across, to read your book. All of my team members from the other lifetime have read it. What a fantastic piece of literature!! . . .
Thank you all so much, veterans and families, for your service and sacrifices and your encouragement. Words can’t even begin to express my heartfelt appreciation and the joy of knowing that my book has brought you some measure of comfort all these years later. So let me just say this: This is exactly why I wrote—and will continue to do so for as long as I can. Thank you again, and Godspeed.