Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction 2018


    "Meanwhile the Forests Continue to Die"


    She leads him through the forest, away from the path, away from the animal trails. They climb over charred, fallen trees, around the remains of burned bush. He wonders if this is where he will die. He has been lured to his death by the smell of chicken. If he does manage to escape he doesn’t know where he is. The sun filters weakly through the wet leaves. Where is north? What good would it do to know?

    And in a thick stand of pines, a family-sized tent. It’s the old-fashioned kind that you can stand up in, sheltered by tree branches and a half an old MacDonald’s billboard. The red and yellow claim of billions served has faded and taken on forest colors. You’d miss it if you weren’t looking closely.

    She unties the tent-flap, pulls it back, and the smell of chicken nearly makes him drop to his knees.

    -- Come in if you’re coming.

    He steps inside.

    A green wicker chair. A cream and brown rug. The rug sits up. An old dog.

    --This is Matty.


    50GS Magazine, The Empathy Issue

    Spring 2018



    When goats hear bombs they shake like babies. They have difficulty standing. Their milk stops. They can go blind.


    The goat’s heart has atria like two small ears. You can dissect it easily.

    You can also cook it and eat it. There are YouTube videos for both options.


    What is it like to eat the heart of some other creature? Do you think about the heart beating inside the owner just before it was killed by a bomb, a machete, a man with a small caliber weapon? A heart that has died from fear will taste different from a heart that is unaware of approaching death.


    There are reasons to eat the heart. This happens when you need protein, thiamine, folate, and B vitamins, you want to build muscle, to reduce aging. And it is low in fat.


    There are reasons to eat your own heart. This happens when you find there is nothing to tie you to this other person you swore to remain tied to, when your vitamin intake is disproportional to the loss of sleep, when you are losing or gaining weight.


    You can read the whole lit mag here.

    december Literary Magazine

    2018 Pushcart Nomination

    "Fishers of Men"


    If another boat comes, like Ryker says, the captain will tell us, You know what those SAR80s are for, boys. I will be the first to shoot and the captain will be so proud of me that he will give me another special hat, like the last time. I shot two men. They tried to come on board. They had a small boat and they wanted our boat because it is bigger. The captain told them to go off. They wouldn’t listen and so he told us to fire. And I shot first. They fell backwards. One fell into the sea and got sucked under into the motor. It was a terrible noise and the motor broke. We had to paddle the boat to shore for repairs.

    Everyone was given permission to visit our families for one day. But I couldn’t go to my home.

    When I first told my mother I was going to join the captain she became very angry with me. I told her not to worry. We have good weapons and cannot get caught. And if we do, the captain can just pay the judge and we will go free. Everyone knows this.

    But when I came from the first trip and gave her the money she was still angry,

    --Galad, I am your mother but I hide my face when the others talk about pirates. All this big-talk. But it is a bad thing. Your father would be shamed.

    TRIP WIRES, stories

    Winner Leapfrog Press

    Fiction Award 2017

    Excerpt from: BROTHER'S KEEPER


    She is at the window waiting since noon, since last year’s announcement on the church noticeboard, last month’s update, last week’s email, waiting for her temporary Sudanese, temporarily in her living room, her kitchen, her guestroom, temporarily so grateful to her American family, American refuge from the dark nights of pangas and bullet mania and shouting, shoveled from plane to bus to this calm street where he will walk: tentative, neatly shorn head bowed, hardly daring to look at the numbers on doors, belongings in a cardboard case with only one clasp, limping from injuries, bandages beneath clothing, single photograph of family, bible with pressed flower from graveside.

    Her window angled elegantly for viewing the street corner, her window well shaded but view unobscured.

    It’s overcast, just when Los Angeles should have looked welcoming to this new resident.

    And is this him? But where is the pastor who is meant to accompany him, to make the introductions and—

    This is the boy she was promised? But he is a man.


    First rule: Don’t look like you’re fresh-off-the-border. The Seventh Day Adventists give away clothes on Fridays. I got tennis shoes, a grey baseball hat, green sweat pants, and a blue sweatshirt that I had to wrestle from this guy. He jumped me. That’s mine. Like I should just hand it over. I kicked him on the ankle (Alex: Always go for the ankle, knee, and crotch) and while he was yelling for his mami, I was gone.

    Tried stuffing my hair in the baseball hat but it falls out quick when you have to run. Cut my hair off. A girl on her own stands out. A kid in a baseball hat is just a kid in a baseball hat.

    The church people sometimes give a little plata, usually mothers with kids, and I buy tortillas and beg peanut butter from the stand near the bus station. Sometimes the mothers give me tortillas and ask where my parents are.



    If another boat comes, like Ryker says, the captain will tell us, You know what those SAR80s are for, boys. I will be the first to shoot and the captain will be so proud of me that he will give me another special hat, like the last time. I shot two men. They tried to come on board. They had a small boat and they wanted our boat because it is bigger. The captain told them to go off. They wouldn’t listen and so he told us to fire. And I shot first. They fell backwards. One fell into the sea and the other one got sucked under into the motor. It was a terrible noise and the motor broke. We had to go to shore to repair our motor. We were allowed to visit our families.

    Normally, we all stay in a cave near the boat until we go out to sea in the mornings. We are like the fisherman. We go early and come late. Only the very strong can do this work. We must do it because who can make money taking care of the goats?


    Read the whole thing, plus a shed-load of amazing poetry and fiction in your very own copy here.



    2018 radio novel-in-progress

    FISSURES OF MEN is the sequel to THE GEOGRAPHY OF KITCHEN TABLES and follows Cebo’s journey after he is awarded a two-semester scholarship to Cal State Channel Islands. He moves from a South Africa that is still in turbulent recovery from apartheid, to a post-election turbulent America dealing with political and social issues that have exacerbated cultural and racial divisions. I'll be recording found sounds with single instruments to layer over some of the sections. And that's about all I can say right now since I'm wrassling with the first draft!



    The boy ran into the classroom as though he was late. Cebo, alone in the lecture theatre, waiting for Harry who had gone for coffee. The boy, dark hair, red-face, hot-blue eyes, came at Cebo as though he had a knife.

    Cebo on his feet, township instinct, hands out and ready for the mad man. But he grabbed Cebo’s shoulders and the kiss came soft and damp, fear and toothpaste. And he was gone.

    Cebo turned to stone, a freeze flash-mob moment that went on and on and the evening and the morning were the fourth day when god made the stars and set them in the sky to give light to the earth. And Harry was holding up a cup in front of him,

    —Look at you. Kissed by a rose.

    —A rose?

    —The song, dumbass. Way back in the 70s or something. Classic.

    Cebo: moved the arm to hinge the elbow to open the hand to take the coffee,

    —Thank you.

    Harry flicked her braids back and sat on the edge of a desk,

    —I hate when there’s like twenty minutes between classes and you can’t do anything. Right? Hey—hello? If I want to be ignored I can call my parents. Dude, are you even listening?


    —You’re staring at the cup. You asked for coffee, right?

    Jerked. Scalding coffee over his hand,

    —Shit. Shit. Shit!

    Placed the coffee on the desk, waved his hand, grateful for something to direct his—what he—how he—


    —You okay? Did some bastard micro-aggress you?

    Was a kiss a micro-aggression?

    TRIP WIRES, story collection

    Winner, Leapfrog Press Fiction Award 2017

    June 2018

    TRIP WIRES travels around the world, with stories, many in children's voices, set against turbulent socio-political backdrops from Afghanistan to Syria to Columbia to America. The terrain is different in each story, but all of these young people face the dilemma of being without resources even as they try to find and maintain relationships.


    Click here to buy a copy.


    Excerpt from "Against the Stranger":


    --You Pathan.

    Heartstop and careful finger off the trigger. I didn’t hear him. What’s wrong with me?

    Skinny boy, yellow pants dragging in the dirt, head tilted far back to stare down his nose.

    It’s one of those quiet deployments on the Afghanistan border. We’re on the outskirts of the outskirts. If we were any further on the outskirts we’d be pants.

    One of those bombed-out towns just like you see in movies, except this one has three-leg goats that hobble and chew through the trash, and fat-tailed sheep with deep red furrows ploughed through their fleeces. Some of the little kids say nothing. Some of them shake. A lot of them shake. Their hands, their heads. One kid’s knee shakes like it’s a small flag.

    SMALL CHANGE, fiction chapbook

    Winner, Gold Line Press Competition 2016

    Copies at my book store, below, or at Small Press Distribution.


    Audio preview here!

    A boy crawls through a tunnel in the Gaza Strip to bring back supplies to his family and neighbors despite the high risk of the tunnel being flooded, gassed, or bombed. On the eve of the Arab Spring in Libya, a girl and her best friend disguise themselves as boys to train for a school sports competition, knowing that if they’re caught they will be severely punished. Four young girls, three of them pregnant, decide to escape their abusive husbands and attempt to cross from Morocco to Spain.


    Set against these turbulent backdrops, the children’s voices, apolitical, remind the reader of the distilled best of human relationships. With no resources and armed with only loyalty, guts, and tenacity, they risk their lives for their friends.



    Novel set in post-apartheid South Africa.

    Jan, Boer, and Motsumi, Zulu, marry in the heady post-apartheid days of Nelson Mandela's presidency. Despite their parents' objections, Jan and Motsumi settle into their life and have 2 kids, believing in a glowing, post-racial future. When Jan's promotion gives them the chance to move to a better neighborhood, they face considerable racial slurs and threats. A street gang attacks their nine-year-old daughter, Liseli, and the family begins to unravel. This story examines the roots of where we come from, and the astonishing strength, and capacity for love and forgiveness of children.



    I stepped over the leaking plastic bag, and wrenched the gate open. A short, bald, red-faced man, startled eyes, dry old mouth open, skittering backwards in his tackies. I reached back, grabbed the bag by the knot and turned back to see him disappearing down the alleyway by our house that lead to the backfield. I ran after him as he tried to sprint, his fake Nikes turned out, his old bowed legs struggling, waving both hands like he was trying to stop a bus. Finally he stopped and turned around, gasping, sweating,

    --Go away

    I took two more strides and launched the stinking bag. Gaping astonishment as it split and splattered over shoes, pants, shirt.

    --You—you fokken bitch—

    --I have returned what is yours. Literally masimbakho. Your shit.


    This novel is in-the-wings. Hoping it moves onstage soon!


    July 2014

    Arjun Kulkani brings his family to North West London, England, after Indian Independence. While he struggles to fit in, his family adapt almost seamlessly. When he is diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, he suffers a further loss of identity. Even as his body fails, Arjun gains more understanding of his youthful impatience, his careless cruelty to his family, and how to love even those he doesn’t like.



    Sometimes Sunila goes to stand at the bottom of the garden pretending to tidy up the compost heap, and allows the forbidden thought to come: divorce. She can only whisper it. It’s a bad word. Bad people do it. But in the Women’s Own magazine at the doctor’s office, she read that Elizabeth Taylor had done it. She’d done it so many times that it was just part of her normal routine. Get up, put on face cream, divorce Richard. How daring it sounds, so chic.


    Click here to buy a copy.


    Collaboration with Lisa Sanders, fine artist


    Prose-poetry and fine art

    The Shedding Fox

    lives in a shed and sheds/She cannot stop the shedding so it is better and warmer to be here in the dull sweet-wood room among the thin-pale layerings of her-fur her-skin/Sometimes it’s quiet and she thinks, my-fur my-skin falling, catching the light/Because light is where my-fur my-skin colors and turns and changes even as it is dying That is the beauty of every great thing: to fall into color and die


    I recorded the narrative with the amazing Paul Tavenner and am now taking short videos for our video-o-rama together. If you'd like to be included (10-15 seconds of fame) wearing a Japanese Fox mask, drop me a message below!

  • Shop Now


    To contact me directly, please use the form below.

    TRIP WIRES, short stories

    Foreword Reviews

    Book of the Day 6/13

    Leapfrog Press, June 2018

    These stories follow young people and children as they struggle for survival in turbulent settings across the globe, from Afghanistan to Los Angeles.

    Order here.


    Metaphorical prose is abundant, achieving a poetic quality while evoking profound emotions and creating lifelike characters. Racism, classism, and injustice are captured in ways that ignite justified feelings of rage. Trip Wires is a beautifully written collection, both poetic and melancholic.

    Deeply moving in their confrontations of unimaginable tragedies, each story evokes a bold, emotional response.

    --Kate Asher, Foreword Reviews



    This is what life looks like when conflict repaints the canvas against which [the] characters seek love, family and a moment's stability. [Sandra Hunter's] keen eye for twinned details―the fleeting safety of an imam's lap is set against a prayer rug in the back room of a California suburban home, far from neighbors' eyes―lends this collection a rare power and poignancy. Not to be missed.

    --David Rocklin, The Night Language


    In spare and unflinching prose, the stories in Trip Wires depict children and young adults struggling to deal with the brutal consequences of war and social upheaval. I am deeply grateful to Sandra Hunter for the courageous and sympathetic way she tells these young people's tales.

    --Jean Hegland, Into the Forest


    Within this poignant collection, there’s a thread that compels her characters to reach for survival, and it’s this gossamer wire, these small miracles of love, that electrify her stories.

    --Shilpa Argawal, Haunting Bombay


    Gold Line Press, August 2016.

    SMALL CHANGE does what great fiction should do. Rather than strive for newness for the sake of novelty, or reinvent language to showcase the writer’s chops, it approaches language in a new way because the material—struggling for life and love in the Middle East—demands it. Fresh, invigorating, and profound, I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I did.

    --David Treuer

    Fiction judge of the 2016 Gold Line Press Competition


    Each of Hunter’s three stories does what stories should do, using small moments in time to touch larger themes. Here the touching, sometimes tactile, sometimes cerebral, sometimes brutal, sometimes beautiful, presses against the Middle East, a place where turmoil too often touches its people. SMALL CHANGE points to big change with quiet grace, touching hard places and hopeful places.

    --Adam Berlin

    Author of BOTH MEMBERS OF THE CLUB, THE NUMBER OF THE MISSING, BELMONDO STYLE, and HEADLOCK. He teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and is editor of J Journal: New Writing on Justice.


    Complete review by Adam Berlin at Word Riot here.

    October 22, 2016.


    Audio preview: Interview with Camille Bradshaw of Gold Line Press: Interview with Natalie McNair of Speaking of Marvels: Video of Why There Are Words May 11 2017, reading.


    What readers are saying

    I was so gripped and moved by those three stories, and they've continued to haunt me.

    --Jean Hegland


    The voices are unique and yet hit me in my solar plexus. The topics are today's topics and written in a way that people can feel at one with the characters.

    --Joan D


    This is a 'small' book which could 'change' your understanding of childhood, as viewed from the perspective of children from other cultures who are facing adult challenges.

    --Amazon Customer

    These pics can be downloaded free. Please credit Zena Fairweather for the first two, Michelle Wing for the fourth one and Matthew Callender for the fifth one.

    Bios for re-use

    50 words

    Sandra Hunter’s stories have won the 2017 Leapfrog Press Fiction Award, 2016 Gold Line Press Chapbook Prize, and three Pushcart nominations. She is a 2018 Hawthornden Fellow and the 2017 Charlotte Sheedy Fellow at the MacDowell Colony. Books: fiction chapbook SMALL CHANGE and debut novel, LOSING TOUCH. Her story collection, TRIP WIRES, is out in 2018.



    90 words

    Sandra Hunter’s fiction won the 2017 Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest, 2016 Gold Line Press Chapbook Prize, October 2014 Africa Book Club Award, 2014 H.E. Francis Fiction Award, and three Pushcart Prize nominations. She is a 2018 Hawthornden Castle Fellow and the 2017 Charlotte Sheedy Fellow at the MacDowell Colony. Books: LOSING TOUCH, a novel (July 2014), fiction chapbook, SMALL CHANGE (June 2016), fiction collection TRIP WIRES (June 2018). She teaches English and Creative Writing at Moorpark College and runs writing workshops. Favorite dessert: Angry Samoa from Donut Friend.



    150 words

    Sandra Hunter’s fiction won the 2017 Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest, 2016 Gold Line Press Chapbook Prize, October 2014 Africa Book Club Award, and three Pushcart Prize nominations. Her story “Finger Popping” won second place in the 2017 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction. Her story collection TRIP WIRES is out in June 2018, the chapbook SMALL CHANGE was published in 2016, and her debut novel LOSING TOUCH was published in 2014. She’s just finished her second novel THE GEOGRAPHY OF KITCHEN TABLES set in post-apartheid South Africa, and is working on the sequel FISSURES OF MEN. She is a 2018 Hawthornden Castle Fellow and the 2017 Charlotte Sheedy Fellow at the MacDowell Colony. Sandra Hunter lives in Ventura, California where she teaches English and Creative Writing and runs writing workshops. Favorite dessert: Angry Samoa from Donut Friend.


    300 words

    Sandra Hunter is the author of LOSING TOUCH (2014), a novel about immigrant Indians settling into 1960s London and examines the double loss of identity through immigration and chronic disease. Her short story collection, TRIP WIRES (2018), won the 2017 Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest. It presents voices of young girls and boys—some of them children—set against turbulent socio-political backdrops such as Afghanistan, Syria and Colombia, Paris, Los Angeles, and an unnamed apocalyptic land. SMALL CHANGE (2016), won the 2016 Gold Line Press Chapbook Competition. The three stories, set in Palestine, Libya, and Morocco, are told in children’s voices. With no resources and armed with only loyalty, guts, and tenacity, they risk their lives for their friends.

    Recent works include numerous short stories such as “Finger Popping”, 2nd place, 2017 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction; “A Girl Needs Spiked Shoes”, Enizagam October 2017; and “Against the Stranger” (April 2016), performed at Stories on Stage, Davis. She is a 2018 Hawthornden Castle Fellow and the 2017 Charlotte Sheedy Fellow at the MacDowell Colony.

    Sandra has just finished her second novel THE GEOGRAPHY OF KITCHEN TABLES set in post-apartheid South Africa. It follows the story of an interracial couple who marry in the rainbow glow of Nelson Mandela’s election. When their 9 year-old daughter, Liseli, is bottle-raped by a gang, the post-traumatic stress threatens to shatter the marriage. She is currently working on the sequel FISSURES OF MEN that follows one of the characters as he studies abroad in America.

    Sandra teaches English and Creative Writing at a community college, runs writing workshops, and gives readings and presentations at writing festivals and conferences. Favorite dessert: Angry Samoa from Donut Friend.



    • 2018 Hawthornden Castle Fellowship
    • 2017 2nd place Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction, for "Finger Popping"
    • 2017 Winner, Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest, for collection TRIP WIRES
    • 2017 Charlotte Sheedy Fellow, MacDowell Colony
    • 2016 Gold Line Press Fiction Award for collection SMALL CHANGE
    • 2014 Africa Book Club Award for excerpt from THE GEOGRAPHY OF KITCHEN TABLES
    • 2014 H.E. Francis Short Story Competition for "Against the Stranger"
    • 2013 Women's Domination Short Story Competition for "Human Voices Drown Us"
    • Semi-Finalist, 2018 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction for "Meanwhile the Forests Continue to Die"
    • Nomination Pushcart Prize 2018 by december Magazine for "Fishers of Men"
    • Finalist, 2017 Enizagam Fiction Prize, for "A Girl Needs Spiked Shoes"
    • Hon Mention 2016 New England Book Festival, for chapbook SMALL CHANGE
    • Short list 2016 Bridport Prize, for "Fishers of Men"
    • Finalist 2016 Curt Johnson Prose Awards, for "Fishers of Men"
    • Finalist 2016 Cupboard Pamphlet Prize for collection CROSSING THE WIRES
    • Semi-finalist 2015 Lascaux Prize for "30 Below"
    • Semi-finalist 2015 Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize for collection CROSSING THE WIRES
    • Finalist  2015 Nelson Algren Award for "Jewels We Took With Us"
    • Finalist 2015 Tucson Book Festival Literary Awards for "Natural Sex:
    • Semi-finalist 2014 Tucson Book Festival Literary Award for collection SMALL CHANGE
    • Pushcart Prize nomination 2013 by Carve Magazine for "Human Voices Drown Us"

    Professional Memberships: PEN America, Association of Writers & Writing Programs, Hedgebrook Cedar Deep Giving Circle, Women's Writers Project, Women's National Book Association, American Association of University Woman.


    Agent: Writers House


    Work stuff: Thanks to the pep talk with Vincent Van Gogh's self-portrait I had in Amsterdam, I've been working on photo-text pieces again. You can see a few here. Just heard that two of my pieces were finalists in the 2018 Circle Foundation Contest -- v jazzed.


    Yum stuff: Heading to Boston this weekend to introduce my step-daughter to the joys of Pornstar Martinis!

    Random stuff: Working in different art forms is useful. The photo-text really gives me a well-needed butt-kick to view and review what I'm doing with writing. I want to keep pushing myself to try new things. So let's hope it works.

  • WHAT'S HAPPENING 2018/2019


    Launch Party for TRIP WIRES

    Date: June 9

    Time: 5pm

    Place: 93 E Daily Dr, Camarillo

    Shout out to the Community Lit Initiative crew who lit up the plaza last night--as did all the artists. Had such a blast. I couldn't have asked for a better launch. Thanks to Connie, aka Mrs. Figs, for the generous welcome, and to everyone who came out and made the event so incredible.

    Chatter Sunday


    Date: June 24

    Time: 10am

    Place: 1512 1st Street NW, Albuquerque, NM

    Such an amazing audience! Thank you for the warm welcome, Chatterites. That music, though — best way to start your Sunday.

    John Barney is the artist who captured me--and my shoes!


    Reading with Pat Pollard

    Date: June 26

    Time: 6pm

    Place: 108 Civic Plaza Drive, B, Taos, NM

    Had such a good time meeting the Taosenas and Taosenos! Wonderful time in an exceptionally magical place.


    Reading with Barbara Rockman

    Date: June 27

    Time: 6pm

    Place: 4022 Rio Grande Blvd NW, Albuquerque NM

    Wonderful ABQ audience--thank you for making us so welcome, and for listening so intently!



    Date: December 18, 2018

    Time: 7pm

    Place: 333 Caledonia Street, Sausalito, CA

    Jazzed to be reading with a whole slate of amazing writers. Peg Alford Pursell is a reading curator genie.


    Date: April 26 2019

    Time: 8:00am-5:00pm

    Place: Moorpark College, 7075 Campus Drive, Moorpark

    April 26 2019: The second Moorpark College Writers Festival!

    Early bird registration: $55

    Contact: Tracy Stewart 805 553 4761

    More details coming soon!

    PS The pic is last year's poster. New poster coming soon!


    This week: opps for writers who prefer to work off the page: Glint Literary Journal, Lunch Ticket, Slippery Elm. Video, audio, installation -- git submitting!


    SINGLE SUBS: magazine title, genres accepted, deadline, pay



    Glass Poets Resist: one poem at a time; open; no


    Glint Literary Journal: fiction, poetry, hybrid, lyric essay, book reviews, art, multimedia creations; open; no


    Jack Grapes Poetry Prize (no fee): poetry; 8/31: ye$$


    Lunch Ticket: poetry, fiction, nonfiction, YA, lit translation and multilingual texts, art, installation, performance, video; open; no


    Postcard Poems and Prose Mag: poetry, prose; open; no


    Reed Magazine: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, art; 11/1; no


    Silver Stork (theme flux): prose, poetry, art, video, sound pieces; 7/29; no


    Slippery Elm: multimedia poems and narrative (with pictures, audio, video, nonlinear, hypertext, app-based poems/stories); 9/30; no


    Street Light Press: poetry, prose poetry, art; open; no


    Sunflower Sutras: audio poetry; open; no


    The Bitter Oleander: fiction, poetry; open; no


    The Ugly Writers: prose, poetry, blogs; open; no


    The Writers Newsletter: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, articles, travel, features on authors who support charities; check website; no


    Tiny Flames Press: poetry, fiction,nonfiction, art, video; rolling; no


    West Branch: poetry, fiction, nonfiction, translation; 8/1 - 4/1; no


    Zizzle (stories appealing to kids as well as adults): fiction; open; ye$


    MANUSCRIPTS: press, genres accepted, deadline, pay


    Platypus Press Broken River Prize (no fee!): poetry chapook: 8/31; pub + $$


A Proud Member of the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society