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 was published in June 2018, the chapbook Small Change was published in August 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 in Ventura and Los Angeles.
Kathy Mak: What was it like working with the editors of Nimrod?
Sandra Hunter: The editors were incredibly supportive and thoroughly professional. They kept me up to date throughout the entire process. I’ve been part of competitions where I’ve received adequate information and updates but Nimrod’s editors go above and beyond the norm. I’m a huge fan of Eilis and Cassidy!
Kathy Mak: Did the editors change anything in your piece? If so, what?
Sandra Hunger: They didn’t change anything.
Kathy Mak: Did you do anything differently when you submitted to Nimrod after past rejections?
Sandra Hunter: No, I didn’t. This story went out to a number of different competitions—so, a simultaneous submission. It was short-listed at a couple of other places. Something I learned that may be useful for you and other students who are learning how to submit your work: When I heard that “Finger Popping” had placed 2nd, I immediately prepared to withdraw it from other competitions. This is what you do—as soon as you hear your piece has been accepted for publication, you take it out of circulation. Here’s the interesting part: I heard back from one competition that I should leave the story in their competition in case it placed. When a story receives an honourable mention, or wins
Kathy Mak: What triggered you to start writing/to start your writing career?
Sandra Hunter: Being lonely. I used to imagine conversations between people on my way to school when I was little. I think that’s how I developed
Kathy Mak: How do you find inspiration to write and create?
Sandra Hunter: Finding inspiration: I listen to the radio and become absolutely enraged by social injustice issues. That’s what led to “Finger Popping” – this administration’s insistence on building a wall and seeing the prototypes on YouTube. If you have a chance to look at my collection Trip Wires (just out!) you’ll see that all the stories have young people or children as narrators, as they are in “Finger Popping”, and all of the situations involve immigrants, refugees, someone who’s been kidnapped, etc. After the initial anger comes an incubation period where the character’s voices begin to develop. They dictate the direction of the story. I’m also a visual artist, working with the intersections of liminal spaces—a lot of ice and water pics! I overlay those close-up shots with deconstructed text. This is such a different process to writing that’s heavily crafted and controlled. I love the spaces where it seems impossible for anything to become—like the dialogue between ice and water. They argue with each other but together they create something uniquely exquisite.
Kathy Mak is an emerging writer who hopes to see her work in print one day. She recently completed the Lit Mag Love course