Monday, March 26, 2012

Tendai Huchu - The Hairdresser of Harare - Author Interview

My thanks to Tendai Huchu for stopping by Tribute Books Reviews & Giveaways for an author interview about his book, The Hairdresser of Harare.

Author Interview

1. How did you come up with the title?
The title came to me just as the idea for the book sprung in my head on Christmas day 2009. I just heard Vimbai’s voice spinning round in my head, and all I knew at the time was that she was a hairdresser, in Harare, Zimbabwe, so voila – The Hairdresser of Harare. I also knew she would lose her crown to Dumi, a male hairdresser who is a very important character in the story so it becomes ambiguous as to which of them actually is Hairdresser of Harare.

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
If there is any particular message in book, it is one of tolerance. Tolerance for people different to ourselves, whether it is their gender, race, sexuality, class and so forth. The salon as a setting brings people from all walks of life together who normally would never meet and yet somehow they all find a common humanity.

3. How much of the book is realistic?
A lot of the scenery and setting for the book is realistic. I tried to capture the essence of Harare as a modern African city. The book is set in the middle of the last decade when Zimbabwe was undergoing serious political, social and economic problems so I hopefully represented that atmosphere and the things people had to do to adapt to their situation.

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
It’s my first published work and I would NOT change a thing.

5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I’d say it was working with Irene Staunton, my editor from Weaver Press, as we were doing the revisions. She has such a critical eye and really had some crucial input into the final version of the book. As an author, you are protective of your work but working with her was an eye opener because every time she came to me with a suggestion I was like, ‘Why didn’t I think of that.’

6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
It has given me an immense amount of confidence in my abilities as a storyteller. I have learnt that you must revise, revise, revise and revise again. I have also learnt that the romantic idea of the author as a lone ranger is nonsense. Once you get involved with your editor, copy editor, proof readers, marketing people, cover artists, booksellers, book bloggers, reviewers etc, you realize you are part of a large literary community.

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I’d say it was when I was living in Reading, England (what a name for a town in which a writer starts writing, hey!!!). I was reading a lot of Russian Literature which blew my mind, and I thought, ‘This is my passion, this is what I want to do’.

8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I always used to say Dostoevsky and he remains for me the towering giant in my development but thinking of contemporary authors, I’d say David Mitchell, in fact I am a Mitchellite. The breadth of his imagination is mindblowing, his versatility and chameleon like ability to capture any voice in any genre is unique. Nothing I say could ever really do him justice. You have to read him for yourself to get what I mean.

9. Tell us your latest news.
I’ve also got an ebook entitled An Untimely Love, a thrillerly, suspency, romancy, actiony type novel about a terrorist who falls in love on the day he is supposed to martyr himself. It is very different in terms of style, setting and content to The Hairdresser.

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
THANK YOU – Writing is a solitary activity and nothing warms the heart like the odd email from a reader to get your spirits up. Seriously at times when a manuscript isn’t working, nothing perks you up like the support of your readers. So, thank you all.

About the Book

In a country where homosexuals are condemned by their president as being “lower than pigs and dogs”, where one could be prosecuted and imprisoned for committing “homosexual acts”, comes a story of a young man forced to lead a shadow of a life to avoid the harsh consequences of living openly.

Vimbai, the self proclaimed number one hairdresser in Harare is livid with jealousy when the good looking, smooth-talking Dumisani joins the esteemed Mrs. Khumalo’s Hair Salon and snatches the number one spot. Against her better judgement Vimbai soon falls under his infectious charm not knowing that Dumisani holds a shocking secret, one that will turn her views of the world upside-down. The Hairdresser of Harare catapults us into the world of Zimbabwe’s elite society, where stereotypes and prejudices are as abundant as the lavishness. It tactfully tackles the issue of homosexuality that most African literature shies away from.

Price: Paperback $21.95, ebook $11.43
Pages: 200 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Weaver Press
Release Date: October 2010
Buy Links: Amazon, Kindle, Kobo, Barnes&Noble.com

About the Author

Tendai Huchu was born in 1982 in Bindura, Zimbabwe. He attended Churchill High School in Harare and from there went to the University of Zimbabwe to study a degree in Mining Engineering. He dropped out in the middle of the first semester, found work briefly in a casino and from there drifted from one job to the next. Four years later he returned to university and is now a Podiatrist living in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Connect with Tendai
Website
BBC Audio Interview

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