SHORT STORIES 2015/16
Across the Wires, a collection: Finalist
6th Ever Contest 2016
“And here’s Adriana singing just for you.” But this is not the famous Voces del Secuestro radio station, and this isn’t Colombia. And I am not sitting on some scrap of canvas or drinking coffee or wondering when I’ll get a chance to shave. I am not expecting to grab my cloth bag with the notebook and pen, the dry highlighter, the small tin that used to hold mints. I am not walking through long wet grass that whips my face. I am not stumbling across the ankle-bending rocks in a dry river bed. Muffled words are not shouted from behind a green scarf, and I am not clubbed to the ground because I didn’t know I was being told to lie down. I am not being slapped across the face because I looked up at the wrong moment. I am not thinking This is not me in this body in this place forced to walk and squat, to be pushed around with the muzzle of a gun.
Against the Stranger
Stories on Stage, Davis, 2016
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.
We patrol. Around the camp, around the village, around the fields. You think it’s completely quiet, everyone’s inside, and then kids appear out of holes in walls, from inside bombed vehicles, from behind broken rocks, splintered trees. They watch us. We watch them.
Click here for Rob Salas's amazing performance!
30 Below: Semi-Finalist
Lascaux Short Fiction Prize 2015
I don’t want to go. Hamad smells bad and he will push me against the dirt walls, and he will go far ahead and leave me behind with the cold earth smell in my nose and not knowing if I can go on. Hamad knows I hate the tunnel even though I have never been inside.
The other carriers, all adults, are calm. They trick us, the younger boys like my brother, Abir, into doing the hard work. But when the tunnel opens the young ones are sent home. Go and rest, they say, here is fifty dollars. That’s what they did with Abir, but he is tall and even though he is only eighteen he insisted to carry. They said: He is now a man. The father isn’t working. Someone must feed the family.
Abir brings cigarettes and oils and medicine and coat hooks; all the things we used to buy in our shops. Everyone crowds around Abir as he comes out of the tunnel with microwave ovens and brazil nuts and dresses the colors of sunset. It’s like a feast day. One day I will buy my little sister a sunset dress and she will stand on the roof top in the evening and you won’t be able to tell where the sky ends and her dress begins.
Natural Sex: Semi-Finalist
Tucson Book Festival
Literary Awards 2015
Body stops halfway between lying and sitting, uses elbow, wrist, hand, to prop itself up. Where is the pain? Spine can flex. Arms extend. Pain shoots through head. Fingers locate the right eye socket. Empty. Eye is … gone? Where?
No memory of the right eye.
On the next return to consciousness, Body remembers: Do not place finger inside eye socket. Body sits up.
Fingers check gently. The legs do not feel symmetrical. The right knee is bigger. Bending the leg is possible but there is pain. Not as much pain as in the head. So, mobility is possible.
Left eye is weeping. Pain? Sorrow?
There is one eye. I can move.
Body is able to stand. Slowly. Body’s left eye is open, but there is nothing to see. Everything is white.
Body rationalizes, localizes, analyzes. The white isn’t solid. Therefore, it is not a prison cell. The white isn’t moving from up to down. Therefore it isn’t snow.
Relief: It is not a prison cell.
Relief: the memory of nouns.
NOVELS and COLLECTIONS
Small Change, a collection of short fiction
Winner, Gold Line Press Competition 2016
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 are free of political influence and 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 in the belief that this is the only right thing to do.
The Geography of Kitchen Tables
Novel-in-progress set in post-apartheid South Africa.
I’m not an expert on weddings, but Motsumi looked a million times more beautiful than any bride I’ve seen, even the ones on TV. She had this dress that went in and out in all the right places. White, I think. Or ivory or ecru or some color only a woman could think up. And there was a thing in her hair—not the veil, but a kind of jewel that caught the light wherever she turned. And she wore red lipstick. I remember that because she didn’t usually wear lipstick and her mouth was a flower. I couldn’t look anywhere else.
Her mother released her arm and Motsumi came to stand next to me. Somehow I’d moved into the right place. Maybe Frikkie pushed me but at least I was there. I kept staring until the pastor coughed and I remembered I had to face him. I have no idea what he said or what I agreed to. He had to remind me to reply because I kept staring at her like my eyes were dronk. And then I put the ring on her finger without dropping it, which was something I was scared of. And she put the ring on my finger and we had to wiggle it over my middle knuckle but then it was on and it looked lekker. A married man. Me. And then the pastor reminded me to lift the veil and her face was blooming out at me like an autumn rose and the pastor reminded me to kiss her. And she was laughing at me and I was laughing, too, and I did kiss her and everyone clapped. I knew I had to hold her carefully because of the dress. But she had her arms around me and was hugging me tight so I hugged her tight, too, and I knew that this, this was the most important thing about being married. That you held on tight no matter what. And I wished my Mum and Dad could have seen it. Seen me and Motsumi being married.
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.
Excerpt: "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.
To contact me directly, please use the form below.
Gold Line Press, August 2016.
Fiction judge of the Gold Line Press Competition
“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.
Audio preview here.
Interview with Camille Bradshaw of Gold Line Press here.
Bios for re-use
Sandra Hunter writes literary fiction. Her stories have won the 2016 Gold Line Press Chapbook Prize, October 2014 Africa Book Club Award, 2014 H.E. Francis Fiction Award, and three Pushcart Prize nominations. Her debut novel Losing Touch follows an Indian immigrant family adapting to life in 1960s London.
Sandra Hunter lives in Ventura, California, where she teaches English and Creative Writing. She is the author of the literary fiction novel Losing Touch, set in 1960s London, that deals with immigrant Indians. Recent works include her collection of short fiction Small Change (August 2016), and short stories “Against the Stranger”, performed at Stories on Stage, Davis (April 2016), and “Brother’s Keeper” published by Mud Season Review (Fall 2015). She’s currently finishing her second novel, The Geography of Kitchen Tables, set in post-apartheid South Africa.
Sandra Hunter lives in Ventura, California. She is the author of the literary fiction novel Losing Touch that deals with immigrant Indians settling into 1960s London. Recent works include the fiction chapbook, Small Change (winner of the 2016 Gold Line Press Chapbook Competition), and short stories “Against the Stranger”, performed at Stories on Stage, Davis (April 2016), and “Brother’s Keeper” published by Mud Season Review (Fall 2015). She’s currently finishing her second novel, The Geography of Kitchen Tables. Set in post-apartheid South Africa, it follows the story of an interracial couple who marry after Nelson Mandela’s election. When their 9 year-old daughter, Liseli, is attacked, the post-traumatic stress threatens to shatter the marriage. Sandra teaches English and Creative Writing, runs writing workshops, and regularly gives readings and presentations at writing festivals and conferences.
Work stuff: Small Change is here! Launch party at Mrs. Figs in Camarillo on September 10th. Very excited about this: it's going to be a huge celebration of singers, writers, poets, instrumentalists, and all around fabulous folk.
Yum stuff: Even Whole Foods is selling summer fruit at a reasonable price. It's hard to get past the enormous chocolate section in Whole Foods. Right at the front. Right by the checkout. With vegan chocolate. And I also have to get past the vegan ice-cream fridge as well. Damn you Whole Foods.
Random stuff: I'm now up to chapter 13 of the second pass of the Geography of Kitchen Tables. Updates about the novel-in-progress are a bit like commentating for a sloth race. Maybe that's why novel-writing isn't an Olympic sport.
Latest discovery: I will never be a skate-boarder. Ever.
Professional Membership: GLAWS, PEN, AWP, WWB, WNBA
WHAT'S HAPPENING 2016
Launch Party: Small Change
When: Sat Sept 10
Where: 93 E Daily Drive
Camarillo, CA 93010
So amped over the line-up for this! Poems, instrumentals, songs, stand-up comedy, and LIVE painting. Lots of hugs, laughter, and incredible performances at one of the best indie bookstores in the county. Bring a folding chair/stool/cushion--we'll be outside the gorgeous but bijou store.
Local Authors Fair
Camarillo Public Library
When: Sunday November 13
Where: 4101 Las Posas Road Camarillo, CA 93010
I'm honored to be here at a fabulous gathering of Ventura authors. I'll have my very own table of books, beautiful bookmarks (free), and a handy pen for signing!
Very much looking forward to meeting local authors and readers.
This library is gorgeous. Who wouldn't want to spend a happy morning/afternoon/entire day here browsing the stacks?
University of the Pacific
Creative Writing Conference
When: June 23-25
Where: Benerd School of Education, University of the Pacific, 3601 Pacific Avenue, Stockton, CA 95211
Hold the dates! So looking forward to heading back up to Stockton next June. This little gem of a conference in NoCal has consistently thoughtful and practical presentations with engaging presenters. There is a place in literary heaven for conference organizers and Scott Evans' throne is guaranteed. Word.
GET PUBLISHED? SUBMIT!
I regularly receive submission opps via Twitter feed, FB notifications, and email. So I'm posting them here so you can submit, too. This is just a small sampling. If you'd like to dig deeper, check out Poets & Writers, Winning Writers, or New Pages -- mega-databases of listings! The world is your lobster...
Literary magazine/publisher ||| Genre ||| Reading period ||| Pays
The Slag Review ||| ||| |||
https://slagreview.com/submit/||| poetry, fiction, essays, art||| 9/18 ||| no
Tanstaafl Press, focus on sci fi, cyberpunk, fantasy novels ||| ||| |||
http://tanstaaflpress.com/submission-guidelines/||| fiction||| open ||| Yes!
december Literary Magazine, no simultaneous submissions BUT fast turnaround ||| ||| |||
http://decembermag.org/submit/||| fiction, poetry, essays, memoirs, art |||10/1-12/15 ||| Yes!
Smoke Long Quarterly, Kathy Fish Fellowship, flash fiction chapbook||| 9/15||| publication ||| ||| |||
http://www.smokelong.com/kathy-fish-fellowship/||| fiction||| check website
Winning Writers Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest ||| ||| |||
https://winningwriters.submittable.com/submit/58274/||| poetry||| 9/30 ||| Yes!
Winning Writers 5-7-5 Poetry Contest (check website for other prose and poetry contest) ||| ||| |||
http://www.fanstory.com/contestdetails.jsp?id=103094 ||| poetry||| 8/27 ||| Yes!
Silver Birch Press “When I Moved In” ||| ||| |||
https://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2016/08/15/deadline-extended-to-83116-for-when-i-moved-poetry-and-prose-series/ ||| poetry, prose ||| 8/31 ||| No
Pithead Chapel ||| ||| |||
https://pitheadchapel.com/submission-guidelines/ ||| poetry, prose, art ||| open ||| No
Pithead Chapel Larry Brown Short Story Award ||| ||| |||
https://pitheadchapel.com/the-larry-brown-short-story-award/ ||| fiction ||| 10/31 ||| Yes!
Poetry Nook ||| ||| |||
http://poetrynook.com/contest/93rd-weekly-poetry-contest ||| poetry ||| weekly contest, resigter and check website ||| no
Shantih Journal ||| ||| |||
https://shantihjournal.org/submissions/||| fiction, poetry, nonfiction, drama ||| open ||| no ||| ||| |||
Embers Igniting ||| ||| |||
http://www.embersigniting.com/submissions/|||fiction, nonfiction, poetry, art |||9/12-10-10 |||no