Monday, November 24, 2014

Losing Touch Blog Tour! (+$15 Starbucks Giftcard!)

Title: Losing Touch
Author: Sandra Hunter
Series: N/A
Pages: 224
Date Published: July 15th, 2014
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Format: Paperback
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours

Synopsis:
After Indian Independence Arjun brings his family to London, but hopes of a better life rapidly dissipate. His wife Sunila spends all day longing for a nice tea service, his son suddenly hates anything Indian, and his daughter, well, that’s a whole other problem. As he struggles to enforce the values he grew up with, his family eagerly embraces the new. But when Arjun’s right leg suddenly fails him, his sense of imbalance is more than external. Diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, he is forced to question his youthful impatience and careless cruelty to his family, until he learns, ultimately, to love them despite — or because of — their flaws. In a series of tender and touching glimpses into the shared life of a married couple, Sandra Hunter creates strikingly sympathetic characters — ones that remind us of our own shortfalls, successes, hypocrisies, and humanity.
~Guest Post!~
This is my unusual working experience that made me realize I wanted to be a writer.

Back in the ‘80s, I’d just finished my undergraduate degree and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for graduate work. So I took a 2-year teaching contract in Kenya. This is what you do when you’re searching for your life’s work: Find a country on the other side of the world where you don’t speak the language, it’s hotter than California and Texas combined, and there has just been a violent, bloody, but unsuccessful attempt to take over the government. Makes sense, right?

Kisii, the nearest town to our school was a 4- hour bumpy truck ride away. In Kijauri, you went to the Aberi the butcher and pointed out which part of the freshly slaughtered goat you wanted. If you preferred vegetables, you visited the women who sat near the road selling small piles of tomatoes, onions, and cabbage. There was a lot to adjust to: using a hurricane lamp at night because there was no electricity, cooking over a charcoal burner (when the charcoal gets hot—you cook the food), and washing clothes down by the river. Hauling a heavy basket of wet clothes uphill is not as romantic as it sounds.

They’d partitioned off a couple of rooms in the administration building for my accommodation. My walls were hardboard and painted a bright yellow. The offices and the food store (hello rats) were on the left of the building, and the library was at the back. Aside from the nightly battle with the rats, it was cozy.

And then, just as I thought I was settling in, and just as the rainy season started, we had a school riot.
There were a number of reasons: no clean drinking water, limited food options (maize and beans virtually every day), no milk, and draconian discipline. Because of the rain it was hard to hear what was going on outside. I could hear girls screaming and a lot of shouting but I couldn’t make out what anyone was saying. And then I heard the rocks and the breaking glass of the library windows behind me. The breaking was working its way around the building.

Soon, I heard rocks thrown at my door.

I didn’t know what to do. If they wanted to come in, they could. My hardboard walls wouldn’t keep them out. If they wanted to take things, I couldn’t stop them. If they wanted to kill me, I couldn’t do anything about that either. The only Swahili I could remember was “Hamjambo” which is the plural form of “hello”. Not exactly calming for a mob of angry students.

I had maybe 10 seconds to get their attention, and if I didn’t, I was dead. I was probably dead anyway.

I could hear pushing and scuffling and then a voice shouted something.

Everything stopped.

Then the shouting moved off.

I stood in front of my door for what seemed like hours.

Finally I heard gunshots and I knew that the police from the station down the hill, about 3km away, had arrived.

Then I heard the voice of the headmaster calling my name. With shaking hands I opened the door. He and several teachers were standing there, staring at me. “We thought you were dead.”

I walked outside with everyone. The school grounds looked like they’d been ploughed. Students began straggling back, some with terrible wounds from the barbed wire fencing where they’d tried to run through in their panic to escape.

The school closed for repairs for 2 weeks. After that, we went back and started teaching again.

I learned that the reason they didn’t break down the door and kill me was because someone thought I was armed. So that was the shout that had stopped the rock-throwing: She has a gun!

The head boy, who they’d also tried to kill, came and apologized to me on behalf of the school. It was the only time I cried.

And that’s when I realized I wanted to be a writer. I’d written bad poetry and scribbled in journals while I was in college, but here, for the first time in my life I realized I had something worth writing about. It was definitely a dramatic kick-start!
~Try an Excerpt!~
Sometimes she 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 Woman’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. Sunila practices. Get up, put on Johnson’s Baby Lotion, divorce Arjun. I’ll just divorce him and he can take his disapproving face and jump in the lake.
~Meet Sandra!~ 
Sandra Hunter’s fiction has been published in a number of literary magazines and received awards including the 2014 H.E. Francis Fiction Award, 2012 Cobalt Fiction Prize, 2011 Arthur Edelstein Short Fiction Prize and three Pushcart Prize nominations. Her debut novel, Losing Touch, was released in July (OneWorld Publications). She lives in Simi Valley, CA, with her husband and daughter, and is always on the look out for the perfect gluten-free cupcake.

Author links: http://sandrahunter.strikingly.com

Amazon.com: http://ow.ly/zDmuH

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sandra.hunter


Twitter: @sandrajhunter
Sandra will be hosting a giveaway with this tour! Here are the prizes! One randomly drawn winner will get a luggage tag, mini book necklace and a $15 Starbucks GC

a Rafflecopter giveaway

13 comments:

  1. I enjoyed the guest post and the excerpt. Thanks for sharing :)

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  2. Fascinating comments by you. I really think this book sounds great. Loved the excerpt

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  3. Thanks, Rita. Hope you have a chance to read more!

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  4. Great excerpt. I always. Like meeting new toe authors!

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  5. WOW...What a dramatic way to decide to become a writer. How do you get past something like that? How much longer did you stay in Kenya?

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  6. Hey Cathy Lee. I should add that I'd always "noodled" at writing -- poems and journaling. But, yes, that was one of those sharp-poke-with-a-stick moments when I realized there was a lot more to writing than navel-gazing.
    It was difficult to get past it. Fortunately, I had some really good friends -- also volunteers. Also, the headmaster and my colleagues were tremendously supportive.
    I stayed in Kenya another year (a total of 2 years) -- and here's the follow up story.
    I was invited to a colleague's house to take pictures of his family since I was the only one with a camera on the school campus.
    During this visit, he told me about the deputy headmaster. It turned out that he (the deputy headmaster) had been at the bottom of fomenting the riot. I'd known about this for some time and was outraged about it. I was even more outraged when I discovered that he wasn't fired. He stayed on as deputy headmaster.
    And then my colleague told me about the deputy headmaster's history: the DH was the eldest in his family and went to college in Jamaica because he failed to get into Kenyatta University -- Kenya's prestigious teaching college. Most of the teachers at the school where I was posted had been to Kenyatta.
    As the eldest son, the DM was expected to be successful. Here he was in his 30s, a deputy head master and unmarried. His family was deeply disappointed in him and kept pressuring him to do "better".
    Cultural pressures are the most difficult in Kisii (and, I imagine, the other tribal districts in Kenya). Everyone knew everyone's business. So, if the DH failed to get into university, everyone knew about it and the whole family was shamed. A degree from Jamaica was okay but not equivalent in terms of prestige.
    As for being unmarried, that was also terribly shameful for the DM's family. At that time, in the 80s, everyone was expected to marry in their 20s.
    So, while the DM's siblings were doing well, in his family's eyes he'd let his family down repeatedly.
    The reason for fomenting the riot? He wanted the headmaster's job!
    Of course, this seems extreme to us in our culture. But having lived in the Kisii culture, it actually made sense. I still thought he was a loony -- and it certainly didn't condone what he did, but it did make sense.
    I left Kenya after my 2 year contract was up because I'd contracted multiple malaria and was seriously ill. I have to say, I don't know if I would have renewed my contract. I'd like to have stayed in Kenya but not in Kisii.
    And, by the way, the DH actually did finally get his coveted headship at another rural school!

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