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Saturday, 27 August 2011

Life on the rough side of New Zealand - Marita Hansen

Marita A. Hansen

Author of Behind the Hood

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.

Marita A. Hansen was born in New Zealand, where Behind the Hood is based. Marita loves to write, compose compicturistic art, coach youth football, and referee the occasional match.  

What age group is you book geared towards?

Into which genre would you say your book falls?

General Fiction.
Tell us a little about your book?
BEHIND THE HOOD is the first book in a series following the lives of a group of people living in a rough New Zealand neighbourhood. 
Each chapter is titled according to which character is followed.  Here is part of an Amazon review:
INTENSE! I could probably leave my review at this one word and that would say it all. What a nerve wracking read. At first I thought there were going to be too many point of view characters for me to get involved emotionally, but they all tied back to each other perfectly. I had no problem keeping track of who was who and how they related back to each of the other characters. By the last three-quarters of the book I had the phones turned off and the Do Not Disturb sign hung on the door. I had to know what was going to happen and I didn’t want any interruptions. Marita Hansen did not disappoint. I can’t wait to read the sequel.

(Middle of the review cut due to spoilers)

This novel is brutal in its honesty, giving a true-to-life picture of gang life and the destruction that goes along with it. If you’re at all squeamish, this is probably not the book for you. Lives are destroyed, whole families destroyed, in a matter of seconds because of selfish desires. I’ll read just about anything I can get my hands on and it had me cringing in a few places-—praying in others. I got attached to these characters in the short time it took me to read it and it hurt me when they got hurt. At the same time I’m being repulsed by what’s taking place, I’m also getting pulled in. It takes real talent to pull off a story like this. I can’t wait to read the next one by Marita Hansen. This story may take place in New Zealand, but the same story could be told in any gang territory in the States. Definitely earned the five stars I’m going to give Behind the Hood.

What is your favourite scene in your book? Can we have a snippet?
I have a few favourite scenes, but I can't give snippets due to where they are placed in the story.  But I can give you part of the first chapter:


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.

Have your characters or writing been inspired by friends/ family or by real-life experiences?
The setting is my biggest inspiration, but the characters and some of the things they say, think, and do have been inspired by certain people ... but I can't tell you who.  But I can tell you one thing, Maia's grin comes from me.  I have a bad habit of grinning at the wrong time, especially when I'm in trouble.

Can you sum the book up in one sentence?
An emotional roller-coaster that will both shock and enthral you — definitely not for the fainthearted.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
Mikey Thomas, because he's such a vulnerable character that you just want to protect.  I think he had the most powerful scenes.  Plus, a few readers told me that I made them cry in relation to his character, which says a lot.

Which comes first for you – characters or plot?

Definitely the characters.  If the readers aren't fascinated with them then you might as well not have a story.  Plus, it's the characters' actions that propel the plot. 

Who is your publisher and where are your books available? Are there e-books and hard copies available?
BEHIND THE HOOD is available as an ebook through Amazon and Smashwords.  It will also be available via other ebook distributors in the next week or so, such as Kobo, Barnes & Noble and so forth.  The paperback version will be released before Christmas.


Twitter: @MaritaAHansen

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