Today I have an author guest: Marita A. Hansen who just published her novel Behind the Hood, a look into the reality of street gangs and violence in New Zealand.
Chrys: Hi Marita! Welcome to my blog. Can you tell us a few things about yourself?
Marita: I am a New Zealander from Auckland. Currently I am living in Singapore. I have been here since December 2009 and will be leaving at the end of 2012. I am married with two kids. I like to write, paint, coach soccer, and occasionally referee a match.
Chrys: Singapore, wow! It must be a place that inspires you to write a lot! Why don’t you tell us a little about your published book.
Marita: Behind the Hood is realistic fiction based on a town that I used to live in. Here is the blurb:
Life on the rough side of New Zealand.
In this South Auckland neighbourhood where gang culture, drink, drugs, sex and violence is already a way of life; a vicious attack on a teenage girl sparks a ripple effect of revenge and fury. Live the carnage through multiple viewpoints as the tale unfolds to a bloody climax.
Warning: NOT for the fainthearted.
Chrys: Well I have to say, it sounds fascinating, and I can’t wait to read it! Where can people learn more about you and your work?
Marita: You can follow my blog here: maritaahansen.blogspot.com
You can find Behind the Hood at the following distributors:
Sample from Behind the Hood:
Maia Daniels knew she should just ignore the boys. Walk past, don’t listen, she told herself. Don’t talk back.
It was ten o’clock on a Saturday night. The gang were sitting on a wall outside Claydon Pub, passing around a smoke. She’d seen some of them at high school, when they decided to turn up that is.
Whooping and yelling came from the pub. A television blared loudly, no doubt replaying the All Blacks’ rugby match against the Wallabies. Maia stopped at the driveway as a purple Holden drove into the car park. Music blasted from inside the souped-up machine, the bass pumping its steady beat out into the night.
“Maia, c’mere,” Tama Harris yelled.
The gang leader was eighteen, tall and solidly built, with a wide, flat nose. He’d shaved off his hair recently, replacing it with a curved pattern called a moko. Usually, the tattoo adorned the face, a sign of a Maori warrior—something to be proud of. But Tama was no one to be proud of, nothing but a dreg who constantly harassed her. Unlike the other boys, he wore his hoodie tied around his waist, his ripped jeans and muscle shirt unsuitable for the cold autumn weather. Maia figured he was probably high on something, either from the weed in his hand or the empty bottles at his feet—or both.
“Hey, Maia! Are ya a double d?” a podgy boy with spiky blond hair shouted.
“They sure felt like it,” Tama replied, his hand actions eliciting laughter from the gang.
A blush ran across Maia’s cheeks. Shit, she hated her breasts. Even in her oversized sweatshirt they still grabbed attention. She pulled her hood further over her head, and rounded her shoulders. After another car passed, she hitched up her track pants and walked across the muddy driveway.
Tama hollered, “Oi! I told ja to c’mere.”
She looked back, aching to give him the finger, but instead jammed her hands into her pockets. God, she was a moron for sneaking out, but … Ben’s raves were always awesome. Why couldn’t her mum let her go? It wasn’t like she did drugs, and the boys at the party were just mates.
Tama’s scowl changed into a grin. He threw his joint onto the ground and jumped off the stone wall. With a jerk of his head, he indicated for the gang to follow.
Maia’s heartbeat picked up. Still concentrating on Tama, she stepped off the kerb and onto Waiata Crescent. The blast of a horn made her leap back. The front passenger leaned out of a battered sedan, and swore at her. Ignoring the pimply git, she scooted around the car and across the side road.
A loud wolf-whistle made her jump. She glanced over her shoulder. Tama’s eyes were fixated on her, promising things she didn’t want.
He grabbed his crotch. “I like ya from behind, Maia.”
All the boys, except for Mikey Thomas, laughed. Tama’s cousin looked away as though uncomfortable with what was happening. He was fourteen and in her class at school. She thought he liked her; either that or he had a staring problem. Yeah, she’d only noticed because she was usually checking him out too.
Maia wondered if she could lose the gang by cutting across the highway. Traffic was heavy, making this option just as dangerous as stopping for Tama. Further up the road, past the tyre yard, the video and liquor stores’ lights were on. The neon sign of the happy video man was a welcoming sight. It was maybe a hundred metres away. She thought she had a chance of outrunning Tama. She was fast, damned fast. If she’d showed up to school enough, she probably would’ve been on the track team.
“Maia, pretty Maia,” Tama taunted. “I’ve got sumpthin’ to show you.”
Maia wasn’t sure whether it was a knife—or something else in his pants. She knew he carried a switchblade. He’d stabbed her brother in the arm once when Nike attacked him with a baseball bat. She’d always wondered whether this was why Tama harassed her. But she couldn’t blame Nike for it. Leila, his girlfriend at the time, had caused the fight. The bitch had cheated on him with Tama, then cried rape after he found out.
“Leave me alone, Tama,” she said, remembering the last time he’d approached her. She’d kicked him in the balls for grabbing her breasts. “Nike said he’d beat the living snot outta you if you came near me again.”
“I’d love to see him fuckin’ try. Plus, you owe me, bitch.”
Maia knew she should keep her mouth shut; that whenever she spoke it got her into trouble. Her mother had told her countless times, “You speak too much, Maia, you should listen more.”
She grinned, unable to help herself. “What do I owe you? More bruised balls?”
She heard a slicing noise behind her, the sound of a switchblade being opened. Shit!
“Get her,” Tama yelled.
Author Marita A. Hansen.