SHORT STORIES 2015/16
Fishers of Men: Short List
For Barni and me, it is our job to do the plastic ties. The captain says our fingers are quicker than the bigger boys. Also, we do the look-out, too, because our eyes are very sharp, and we can move fast around the boat. It is a big responsibility. I am twelve and Barni is thirteen and we are the youngest on our crew.
When we were just children we looked after the goats. But the war came and took many of the fathers, and then we became the men. That is a big thing. You must pay for the rice and the goat-meat and the flour for the anjera, and then if one gets sick, you must buy the medicine. These small children get sick very easily. And then you have the repairs for the house and the fees ones who are in school. You cannot do all of that by looking after goats.
Fishers of Men: Finalist
Curt Johnson Prose Awards
Barni told me about the manatee. It is a big, soft, sea-fish. Mammal, says Barni. And now we have tied up this very big man and he is lying down, just like a manatee, behind the bulkhead at the back of the boat. He came with his friends to kill us, but we were too many and we got him down and now he is in the plastic ties.
The captain tells Barni and me to watch this one while they organize with the others at the front and tie up the other boat that is smaller than ours. It is new and now we can have two boats.
Ours a good, long boat. It used to be for fishing, but the fish ran out so the captain put a strong motor and brought us to do this work. We sleep below and there is a kitchen, too. Our boat is fast. We can catch anyone very quickly and we go on board and they give us the money and we leave. We are the good guys. We take from the rich and give to the poor.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
October 22, 2016.
Audio preview here.
Interview with Camille Bradshaw of Gold Line Press here.
Interview with Natalie McNair of Speaking of Marvels here.
Bios for re-use
Sandra Hunter’s stories have won the 2016 Gold Line Press Chapbook Prize, 2014 Africa Book Club Award, 2014 H.E. Francis Fiction Award, and three Pushcart nominations. She is a 2016 Bridport Prize fnalist and a 2017 MacDowell Fellow. Her books: a fiction chapbook Small Change and the novel, Losing Touch.
Sandra Hunter lives in Ventura, California where she teaches English and Creative Writing and runs writing workshops in Ventura and Los Angeles. Her fiction received the 2016 Gold Line Press Chapbook Prize, October 2014 Africa Book Club Award, 2014 H.E. Francis Fiction Award, and three Pushcart nominations. She is a 2016 Bridport Prize finalist and a 2017 MacDowell Fellow. She has written a fiction chapbook, Small Change (2016) and a novel, Losing Touch (2014). She’s currently working on a novel-in-progress, The Geography of Kitchen Tables, set in post-apartheid South Africa.
Sandra Hunter lives in Ventura, California where she teaches English and Creative Writing and runs writing workshops in Ventura and Los Angeles. She is the author of the literary fiction novel, Losing Touch, that examines the double loss of identity through immigration and chronic disease. Her fiction chapbook, Small Change, won the 2016 Gold Line Press Chapbook Prize. The chapbook’s stories are set in Palestine, Libya and Morocco, and are told through the voices of children. Other awards include the October 2014 Africa Book Club Award, 2014 H.E. Francis Fiction Award, and three Pushcart nominations. She was a finalist for the 2016 Bridport Prize finalist and has received a 2017 MacDowell Fellowship. She’s currently working on a novel-in-progress, The Geography of Kitchen Tables, set in post-apartheid South Africa. The story explores the changing bonds of race, family, and friendship through an interracial couple whose daughter is attacked by a street gang.
Professional Memberships: Greater Los Angeles Writers Society, 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.
What I'm up to
Work stuff: Now that I have the dates for my residency, I realize I have to prep the manuscript! This means sending a hard copy to the colony so I can (a) read it aloud and (b) make written edits on it. That writing/editing thing.
Yum stuff: Four weeks without sugar, except for the three dollops of icing I stole from my daughter's birthday (vegan) cake. Do I feel better? Sort of. I feel virtuous every time I resist chocolate et al. I hope I'm not turning into one of those born-again sugar-free types.
Random stuff: My daughter had her 17th birthday party this weekend. Her last party at home. Next year she'll be at college. The reality of the upcoming empty nest is sinking in.
WHAT'S HAPPENING 2016/2017
October 22 2016
Adam Berlin, author and poet, also writes highly-acclaimed articles about boxing. He is the editor of J Journal, a literary magazine based at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. His review of Small Change is in the October edition of the excellent Word Riot. You can read it here.
Workshop and Reading
When: Saturday, December 3, 2016
Where: 31220 Oak Crest Drive, Westlake Village, CA 91361
I'm so happy to have the chance to run a writing workshop and read from Small Change at one of the most beautiful libraries in LA County.
A Pen, A Postcard, A Poem, is a writing exercise for all levels. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced writer, this one will rev your writing engine!
When: Thursday, February 2, 2017
Where: 2476 Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704
This is going to be a blast: I'll be reading from Small Change and my dear friend and incredible poet, Ruth Thompson will be reading a selection of poems. We'll be braiding our work, so this will be an in-cahoots experience.
Come and join us for literary shenanigans!
Workshop and Reading
When: Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Where: 1855 Solano Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94707
Coming at you, smoother than vanilla yoghurt (Mighty Boosh moment):
When: Thursday May 11, 2017
Where: Studio 333, 333 Caledonia Street, Sausalito, CA 94965
Delighted to be invited back to WTAW--a constantly intriguing and engaging series run by the wonderful Peg Alford Pursell. I'll be reading from Small Change--but come for the other readers, too. Peg always gathers unique constellations of writers.
University of the Pacific
Creative Writing Conference
When: Friday June 23- Sunday June 25, 2017
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!
This week we have opps for writing on magical realism, "descanso", new immigrants, blurred genre peeps, mythology, haiku/senyru, and anyone self-identifing as a Nasty Woman who embraces her inner bitch. Even the Brits are in here with The Fenland Reed. So, something for everyone.
Literary magazine/publisher ||| Genre ||| Reading period ||| Pays
Awakened Voices, a safe space for anyone wishing to share experiences of sexual violence ||| ||| |||
http://www.awakenedvoices.net/submit-c1dav ||| poetry, reviews, photography ||| monthly, check website for dates ||| no
Boulevard Short Fiction Contest, entry fee $16 ||| ||| |||
http://www.boulevardmagazine.org/short-fiction-contest/ ||| poetry, prose ||| 12/31 ||| Yes!!
Bracken ||| ||| |||
http://www.brackenmagazine.com/submit/ ||| poetry ||| 12/12 ||| Yes!
Bracken, fiction emphasis on magic realism ||| ||| |||
http://www.brackenmagazine.com/submit/ ||| fiction, art ||| open ||| Yes!
Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, focus on sci-fi, fantasy, myth, legend, fairytales, eldritch ||| ||| |||
http://cosmicrootsandeldritchshores.com/submissions/ ||| short fiction written, podcast, video, graphic story form ||| 3/21-28; 6/21-28; 9/21-28; 12/21-28 ||| Yes!
Dark House Books, theme “descanso” ||| ||| |||
http://darkhousebooks.com/submissions/ ||| poetry, fiction, essays ||| 12/31 ||| 50% of royalties
december ||| ||| |||
https://december.submittable.com/submit ||| poetry, prose, art ||| 5/1 ||| Yes!
december Jeff Marks Memorial Poetry Prize ||| ||| |||
https://december.submittable.com/submit ||| poetry, prose, art ||| 12/1 ||| Yes!
december Curt Johnson Prize Curt Johnson Prose Awards ||| ||| |||
https://december.submittable.com/submit ||| poetry, prose, art ||| 3/1-5/1 ||| Yes!
Generation Magazine ||| ||| |||
https://genmagwindsor.wordpress.com/submissions/ ||| poetry, fiction, art, cross-genre ||| 12/1 ||| Yes after 2017 edition printed
Glint ||| ||| |||
https://glintjournal.wordpress.com/glint-7-submissions/||| poetry, prose, reviews, art, multi-media ||| 3/30 ||| no
Iowa Prize in Lit NonFiction, book-length manuscript, entry fee $10 ||| ||| |||
https://www.uipress.uiowa.edu/authors/iowa-nonfiction.htm |||nonfiction ||| 12/10 ||| Publication!
Lost Horse Press, looking for Nasty Women poets who embrace their inner bitch ||| ||| |||
http://www.losthorsepress.org/call-for-submissions-2/ ||| poetry ||| 1/20 ||| no
pacificREVIEW, theme “errant mythologies” ||| ||| |||
https://pacrev.submittable.com/submit ||| poetry, prose, memoir, comics, visual art, photography, documented performance and hybrid ||| open ||| no
Philly Flash Inferno ||| ||| |||
http://www.phillyflashinferno.com ||| poetry, fiction, art/pics ||| open ||| no
Redivider Blurred Genre Contest, entry fee $6 ||| ||| |||
https://bhreview.submittable.com/submit ||| hybrid and experimental work, prose, poetry ||| 12/15 ||| Yes!!
Restless Book’s Prize for New Immigrant Writing ||| ||| |||
http://www.restlessbooks.com/prize-for-new-immigrant-writing/ ||| fiction, nonfiction ||| 2/28 ||| Yes—and publication!
Subterranean Blue Poetry ||| ||| |||
http://bit.ly/2gTTtId ||| poetry ||| open ||| no
The Fenland Reed ||| ||| |||
http://www.thefenlandreed.co.uk/submissions ||| poetry, fiction ||| 1/31, submissions considered throughout the year ||| contributor’s copy
The Masters Review, Short Story Award for New Writers, entry fee $20 ||| ||| |||
https://mastersreview.com/short-story-award-for-new-writers/ ||| fiction ||| open ||| Yes + agency review!!
Wanderer Poetry, focus on LGBTQ+ ||| ||| |||
http://wandererpoetry.com/submit/ ||| poetry, poems in Spanish, excerpts, previously self-published work ||| open ||| Yes!
Writing Knights Press, “The Wayward Sword: Dangerous Submissions: Haiku & Images ||| ||| |||
http://bit.ly/2fJZiTz ||| haiku, senyru ||| open ||| contributor’s copy
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