Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tendai Huchu interviewed on 'Reading Has Purpose'

Welcome Tendai! I’m glad you stopped by Reading Has Purpose! Your first novel, The Hairdresser of Harare, is on my to-read list. Before I could even read it, you’re back with novel number two! So let’s get to it!

RHP: Is The Maestro, The Magistrate, & The Mathematician a book you’ve wanted to write for some time or did the idea just come to you?
TH: It took about three years from conception to finish. There was a lot of refinement and fine tuning needed. One of the most important parts of the process was working with my editor Jane Morris from amaBooks who completely understood the scope of my ambition for the text and was instrumental in helping me tweak. In certain ways I’m, perhaps, a very old fashioned writer in that my fiction is a vehicle for the dissection and dissemination of ideas which are important to me.

RHP: After releasing one novel, what’s the biggest lesson you learned and applied to the writing or marketing of this book? And how’s that working out for you?
TH: The reality is when you’re an unknown writer without the benefits and resources of a corporate PR machinery, then marketing is going to fall on your shoulders. Book bloggers like yourself, Shannon, are essential, because they are willing to look at work on its own merit wherever it’s coming from. But I still maintain a naïve belief in word of mouth, that if my work is good enough then readers will recommend it to their friends and family.

RHP: Is there anything you were particularly nervous or worried about with the release of The Maestro, The Magistrate, & The Mathematician?
TH: There is always going to be a bit of anxiety before a book goes on sale. Your internal editor goes into overdrive: “Is it good enough?”, “Did I miss something?”, “Will anyone even read it?” I could go on and on, but in the end, you just take a chill pill and let go, because once it’s out there, what else can you do?

RHP: Tell us why we’re going to love the new book!
TH: I’m obviously biased in this regard, but I think it’s an interesting book about love, friendship, identity, ideas and some of the big questions we have in life. Outside the thematic elements, the reader may well be enticed by the structure of the book which works as three interlinking novellas.

RHP: You seem to keep a pretty low profile. I couldn’t find you on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.  Is this intentional or are you getting ready to make a grand entrance into social media!?
TH:  I think you’ve been looking in the wrong places:  and on Twitter I’m @TendaiHuchu.

RHP: What, if anything, do you miss about living in Zimbabwe?
TH: The strong sense of community, that each individual is tied to the next and this bond is important. I suppose that and the sunshine!
RHP: Further to my previous question. Sometimes I sit back and think about the stories that are missing. Being African American, I wonder when stories will start to emerge about being the child, grandchild, or great-grandchild of a participant in The Great Migration. What was it like being sent South for the summers? What was it like being hundreds or thousands of miles away from the rest of the family? So many questions come to mind. What does that look like from your experience? What stories, and essentially history in the making, do you think are missing?
TH: If I think exclusively of the Zimbabwean experience, then I have to recognize that we have only been a literate society for the last 140 or so years; that’s nothing in historical terms. A lot has been said about the colonial and post-colonial periods, but I reckon the pre-colonial period is much more interesting, especially when you think of the great trading empires, Munhumutapa, Great Zimbabwe, or even the Rozvi much further back. Piecing out what life was like for these folks would be very rewarding.

RHP: We all know the big names in literature, old and new. Well... we do here at Reading Has Purpose! But I love reading books by authors that fly under the radar as well. You’ll even find reviews here for books that are out of print. Are there any books or authors that you think people are missing out on?
TH: For anyone who wants to read something new outside the mainstream, I recommend visiting The African Books Collective. They have an awesome collection of both fiction and non-fiction by 150 independent publishers across the continent.

RHP: Anything else you like for us to know about you or The Maestro, The Magistrate, & The Mathematician here at Reading Has Purpose?
TH: Nah, but I think I’ll reproduce the [book's] blurb for you:

“Three very different men struggle with thoughts of belonging, loss, identity and love as they attempt to find a place for themselves in Britain. The Magistrate tries to create new memories and roots, fusing a wandering exploration of Edinburgh with music. The Maestro, a depressed, quixotic character, sinks out of the real world into the fantastic world of literature. The Mathematician, full of youth, follows a carefree, hedonistic lifestyle, until their three universes collide. 

In this carefully crafted, multi-layered novel, Tendai Huchu, with his inimitable humour, reveals much about the Zimbabwe story as he draws the reader deep into the lives of the three main characters.”


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