Patch Xiong: The Power of Stories

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Some people call it insanity, some people call it an active imagination but Patch Xiong calls it fate. On a night when he was going to commit suicide he was saved by a woman. This woman was Pa Nou, a character based on a short story he had imagined in his head, a story based on a Hmong folklore his father told him as a child and Pa Nou told him he couldn’t die or her story would die too. Dead Promise was recently published in late December of last year and it is the book based on Pa Nou, the woman who literally saved Xiong’s life.

This is just the story within the story however; a story that has come full circle. And to fully understand it, one has to start at the beginning.

“My father was the greatest storyteller I ever knew,” said Xiong, “He would always tell me Hmong folklores as a child to bribe me to massage his calves.”

And so it was that Xiong grew up with his father’s stories in his mind and writing his own stories for hobby while graduating from Minneapolis Business College with an Associates in Computer Programming.

“I had just graduated and was 20 years old,” said Xiong. “I met a girl and we were going to get married. Her family lived in California and so my father and I went there to negotiate the dowry. The first day we spent in California was all about the dowry negotiation and it went very well. The second day we went to a water park. I remember it was a gorgeous afternoon and so my father told us to take a picture of him and as soon as the camera snapped my father just fell.”

Xiong’s father would later be pronounced dead at the hospital.

“I was so traumatized and I turned to my fiancĂ© and I told her she didn’t have to come back with me if she didn’t want to. But she said she wanted to be with me and so we came back to Minnesota but then nobody would pick us up because of what happened. People labeled us bad luck and we were basically kicked out of the family.”

After being homeless for a brief period after being kicked out, the couple decided to move to Alaska to try to start over. Things wouldn’t end up going well though, as after 5 years of marriage his wife left him and she joined the Army.

“I hit rock bottom after she left me. I was depressed. I thought about killing myself every day. I was seeing two psychiatrists but that didn’t help. One day I decided I was going to finally do it and kill myself. I wondered if I should overdose or shoot myself and then that’s when it happened that I saw Pa Nou. She came to my room and spoke to me. I know it sounds crazy but it happened. She told me I couldn’t die or her story would die too.”

So Xiong decided to live, and he started writing Pa Nou’s story, a story about a young couple torn apart by war, the story that would eventually become his recently released book Dead Promise.

Maybe it’s crazy that Xiong saw a character from his imagination literally talk to him, or just part of an active imagination or fate in some way. Whatever the reason is, it’s pretty amazing the son of a storyteller would have his life saved by the stories he was once told and in turn would become a storyteller too.

To buy a copy of Dead Promise, visit, or visit


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