Saturday, February 28, 2015

JCUF VOL 2 NO 1 (2015) - "The 'British Perspective' on Urban Fiction" by Sam Hunter

A door opened to her right.  A shaft of light sliced into the darkness. The shadows behind the glass moved rapidly.  A wave of fear gripped Nia as she saw the deep black silhouette of a handgun appear in the doorway.  Time stood still for Nia as she realized the aim of the handgun had fixed itself firmly on her. “Are you afraid to die?  Or do you wanna live forever?”
The deep guttural voice filled the room briefly and then faded into nothingness as if the walls of the room had completely absorbed it.
Her heart was beating so hard it was the only other sound she could hear in the room.  She felt it beating so fast her chest could barely contain it and she couldn’t swallow.  Before she had time to react she saw the white hot muzzle flash and retort of the weapon as it fired.
It’s no coincidence there’s a line from Tupac’s ‘Only Fear of Death’ in the opening chapter of my novel ‘Book One’.  In fact, the pages are littered with them.  Because in my mind, hip-hop is the soundtrack to Urban Fiction and Tupac is the figurehead of hip-hop.
For as long as I can remember, I was trying to find the right story to tell.  I’d write a few pages and nothing seemed to click.  But back then I’d yet to fall in love with hip-hop. That didn’t happen until I was studying American history at university.
Studying Malcom X, the Civil Rights struggle, and the Black Panther Party laid the foundations.  I remember not being able to stop reading ‘Malcom X’ by Alex Haley.  I sat and devoured the book over several shifts at my part-time job. And then something about a Tupac lyric on the track ‘Pain’ just had me focused on hip-hop. There was no turning back. I went on to complete a research master’s degree in hip-hop history.
You could say that ‘Book One’ was the culmination of my studies. Not long after I finished studying, I was struck by an idea to bring it all together.  I had a flash of inspiration and discovered a passion for this story that would enable me to follow it all the way through to publication.  From that moment it was on.
They say write what you know. For most people that’s their experiences, set in their surroundings. For me it was different; you won’t find any Britishness in my work. I listen to U.S. hip-hop and enjoy the old school graffiti masters of the New York subway. What I know is hip-hop and how Black Power bled right through into the hip-hop generation. I took that, threw in some conspiracy, the sexy heat of Miami, and turned out a book that will get every hop-hop fan thinking ‘what if?’
I’ve written some other novellas, they’re still part of the ‘Makaveli’s Prince’ series, but they’ve been a break, a chance for me to get things together for ‘Book Two’. I’ve been exploring the genre a little further with characters and storylines which branch away from my central focus on historical conspiracy.
I can’t speak on the Urban Fiction scene in Britain because I’ve always had a solitary creative process.  When I do link up with other authors and readers it’s always been online and there, the U.S. contingent dominates.
What I do know is the internet has been great for putting me in touch with my readers around the world.  Hearing from them has been the best experience I’ve had as a writer. And I’m sure it’s going to stay that way.

Sam Hunter is the author of the “Makaveli’s Prince” book series. Connect with him on Twitter @_SamHunter. 

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