Tag Archives: new hope city

Poverty Myths Explored

23 Oct

One of the themes I explore in my books is poverty. Most of my main characters are poor or live in a society that has a huge disparity between those with financial resources and those without. While browsing twitter I discovered this interesting article about poverty myths.  Here is a summary of the myths below:

  • Poverty is the fault of the individual, people only have themselves to blame
  • Children from poverty have the same opportunities as children who do not live in poverty
  • Getting a job is the key to avoiding poverty
  • There is no real link between poverty and health
  • We can’t afford to end poverty
  • Job creation and a strong economy will help poor people
  • People who are living in poverty are uneducated

I think the article is worth a read. The article provides its own rebuttal to these myths, but there’s something I want to discuss that often isn’t brought up in these conversations about poverty.  I want to first point out that the cause of poverty is complex. But I believe that one of the root causes of poverty is a disconnection from power bases.  For example, in my novel New Hope City, the protagonist is a poor teen born into poverty. Her poverty makes her a social outcast because some people equate poverty with criminality, lack of moral character and a host of other bad qualities. She can’t make friends with the “rich” kids because she is considered unworthy of friendship by both adults and youth.  A matter of fact, the only friends she can make are the people who are like her and who may be looking to exploit her for their personal gain. And her poverty makes her vulnerable to exploitation. She can be exploited by adults in her small town because she is invisible and considered unworthy of the full protection of the law. Her exploitation is ignored because it is assumed that she is a bad, inferior and less than. And some may assume that she caused her own troubles. And the irony is that because of her lack of social connections and her lack of life experience she does make decisions that deepen her own troubles. But this is how poverty works.  Youth  born into poverty are often cut off from the part of society that could help alleviate their condition. Many impoverished youth are raised by single parents who work several jobs to improve their financial conditions, but they can’t get ahead because they lack skills, social connections or they live in areas with terrible job prospects. Or maybe parents become so depressed and disheartened that they give up and fail to provide for their children.  These kids may even have parents who are themselves troubled emotionally, psychologically or have become burdened with legal troubles. It’s all of these things that can cause impoverished youth to have a stigma placed against them causing them to become isolated from power bases (jobs, resources, social connections) that could help them overcome poverty.

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SunHi Mistwalker writes fiction set in dystopic and post-apocalyptic worlds. Her new novel New Hope City, a dark coming-of-age story set in a post-apocalyptic America, follows the life of Sunni Brown, a teenage girl exploited by sex traffickers who tries to get a fresh start when she meets a disillusioned cop. She is also the author of the science fiction series After The Darkness. Please sign up for the mailing list for receive updates, freebies and special discounts. You can also follow SunHi on Twitter and Facebook.

How I Lost My Friend To Prostitution

9 Aug

ProstituteKaren was only 15 when she was seduced by a pimp, but she was one of my closest friends. I’ll never forget the scars on her face, and the black circles under her eyes, and the fear in her voice when she spoke of him. But I also remember how she needed him to need her and want her. She was lost without him. She was dead without him. And the irony was that he probably would have killed her if she dared leave him. When I wrote New Hope City, I often thought about my friend Karen. I wondered how she had fallen into the pimp’s snare.  And when I look back, I would say that she was much like Sunni, the main character in New Hope City, in that her descent into the hell of prostitution began in a place that’s supposed to be safe – home.

Parents Play Dumb

Some parents are just too busy to uhm…well, to parent. They’ve got their own lives. Or, maybe their life hasn’t turned out the way they wanted and they want their kid to make it a little easier. My friend Karen had a parent like that. She was an only child and her mom was a single parent, and of course they didn’t have much money. Her mom liked to keep boyfriends around, and if she was real nice to them they would leave a few dollars on the nightstand. That could pay the light bill or buy a bag of groceries, but it also made the boyfriends feel entitled to more than just Karen’s mom. They took liberties with Karen too, and her mom would just play dumb, like she didn’t see anything.

Pimps Seem Nice – By Comparison

I’m not too sure about when Karen first started having problems with her mom’s boyfriends, I just know that one Summer she just seemed different, quiet, somber, and maybe even a little angry. That’s when she met Juan, that’s what people called him, but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t his real name. Everyone in the neighborhood knew that he was no good. No one ever used the word pimp to describe him, but we all knew that’s what he was. When Karen’s mood first started to improve I thought that maybe things had gotten better at home, that she had been able to get the men to stop “messing with her” as she always described it, but when she told me that Juan had given her a pair of new (and expensive) sneakers I knew she was headed for trouble.  Juan’s string of gifts made my friend happy but they also made her stupid, well stupid for him. She started hanging out late. And then she stopped hanging out with me and her other friends. And from there things went downhill. Rumors spread that she was “fooling around” with grown men and that she had moved in with Juan. That was the last time I saw Karen. She didn’t even show up for school that Fall.

There Are No Angels

In the movies, prostituted teens are portrayed as innocent victims worthy of a savior. They’re usually kidnapped or somehow forced into “the life.”  But the reality of teen prostitution is a lot more murky.  Prostituted girls like my friend aren’t perfect. They’re flawed and damaged which makes them do things that flawed and damaged people do. These girls may seem like troubled kids, stealing, lying, fighting and engaging in promiscuous sex. And it’s these things that make people less likely to see them as worthy of saving.  Just like my old friend, they get lost. And just like my old friend, they may face an early and tragic end.  But when I wrote New Hope City I wanted to talk about a girl like Karen, someone who may be damaged and flawed but who is in fact worthy of a savior.

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SunHi Mistwalker writes fiction set in dystopic and post-apocalyptic worlds. Her new novel New Hope City, a dark coming-of-age story set in a post-apocalyptic America, follows the life of Sunni Brown, a teenage girl exploited by sex traffickers who tries to get a fresh start when she meets a disillusioned cop. She is also the author of the science fiction series After The Darkness. Please sign up for the mailing list for receive updates, freebies and special discounts. You can also follow SunHi on Twitter and Facebook.

Congratulations New Hope City Paperback Winners!

14 Jun

The New Hope City paperback winners are:

Laura & Scott

Congratulations! I plan to mail your books by next week.

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SunHi Mistwalker writes fiction set in dystopic and post-apocalyptic worlds. Her new novel New Hope City, a dark coming-of-age story set in a post-apocalyptic America, follows the life of Sunni Brown, a teenage girl exploited by sex traffickers who tries to get a fresh start when she meets a disillusioned cop. She is also the author of the science fiction series After The Darkness. Please sign up for the mailing list for receive updates, freebies and special discounts. You can also follow SunHi on Twitter and Facebook.

Evil Thrives When We Choose To Ignore It

7 May
Photo by Tiffanie J.

Photo by Tiffanie J.

I’ve been following the news story about three young women in Cleveland, Ohio who were reunited with their families after ten years in captivity. It certainly is a horror story, albeit one with a happy ending. It’s so rare that kidnapping victims are found alive that the discovery of these three women is nothing short of a miracle.  Everyone, including myself, is happy to see these women rescued. But there are these nagging feelings and questions that have been bothering me all day. How is it possible that three women and a child can be held in captivity for ten years and no one notice?  Had not one person in that neighborhood stepped inside that house – IN TEN YEARS? Had not one person recognized signs that something was wrong? Or, did they see and turn a blind eye? Or maybe they did report it to authorities and the authorities didn’t care? According to CNN, one of the next door neighbors of this house of horrors was brave enough to call the police but wasn’t taken seriously.

“She was just walking around, and naked,” Samoylicz said. “We thought that was weird. We thought it was funny at first, and then we thought that was weird so we called the cops. They thought we was playing, joking, they didn’t believe us.”

And that’s not all, another neighbor, Israel Lugo, heard screaming coming from the house, but when he called the police they only did the minimal investigation which was to knock on the door and leave when no one answered.  Can you imagine being in that house and hearing the police outside, hoping that they will rescue you, only to have them walk away?  Now can you imagine hearing people partying in the backyard and barbequing while you’re inside suffering?  Just the idea of this makes me angry. I do not believe for one split second that everyone in that neighborhood was somehow kept in the dark about what was happening in that house.  I believe that SOMEONE knew. Someone knew and decided to shrug it off or tell themselves that it was none of their business. That’s what my instincts say. My instincts also say that in a city that is ranked as one of the most dangerous in the country, minding your own business is probably the unspoken rule.

My novel New Hope City is set in a place like that, a place where people turn a blind eye to the crime, abuse, corruption, and where the police simply ignore your suffering – and that’s if you’re lucky. These types of places exist; they’re here, right now in America and all over the world. And I think it’s critical for all of us to recognize that there is evil in this world. If we fail to recognize that evil exists, how can we stop it? How can we choose to be one of the good guys if we believe that these types of things don’t happen? This is one of the reasons that I write the type of stories I do. I want people to get a glimpse at how things sometimes go wrong and how bad things sometimes happen to good people for no apparent reason.

SunHi Mistwalker writes fiction set in dystopic and post-apocalyptic worlds. Her new novel New Hope City, a dark coming-of-age story set in a post-apocalyptic America, follows the life of Sunni Brown, a teenage girl exploited by sex traffickers who tries to get a fresh start when she meets a disillusioned cop. She is also the author of the science fiction series After The Darkness. Please sign up for the mailing list for receive updates, freebies and special discounts.

NEW HOPE CITY

Available at Nook  Kobo  Smashwords  Apple Amazon Google Play

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Don’t Sell Your Babies On Facebook

23 Apr

This is a public service announcement to all the would-be baby sellers out there – moms and dads just say no to selling your kids on Facebook.   I know that our society has gone all capitalistic with a capital “C,” but really let’s get real, not even the Babylonians would condone bartering off your kids on Facebook just to raise bail for your loser boyfriend who’s probably in jail for a good reason.  Really, just stop.

When I read this article about a woman who had the audacity to post a “kids for sale” status update on her Facebook account I felt like I needed to check and see if the world had just ended. Because who does that? Doesn’t she have the good sense to at least hide the fact that she’s bartering off her own flesh and blood? Apparently not. And I thought Sunni’s mom was bad. Well at least she has an excuse – drugs and a mean streak.  While the “kids for sale” article didn’t come right out and say that this woman was selling her kids to possible pimps and other pervs, let’s just be honest and face up to the fact that these are the type of people who would even think buying a kid on Facebook was a legitimate thing to do.

I know that many of us would like to believe that selling kids is mostly the domain of fiction, but unfortunately it’s a sad reality. And I can’t help but wonder how many other kids get bought and sold without anyone noticing – or caring.

SunHi Mistwalker writes fiction set in dystopic and post-apocalyptic worlds. Her new novel New Hope City, a dark coming-of-age story set in a post-apocalyptic America, follows the life of Sunni Brown, a teenage girl exploited by sex traffickers who tries to get a fresh start when she meets a disillusioned cop.

NEW HOPE CITY

Available at Nook  Kobo  Smashwords  Apple Amazon Google Play

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4 Apr

Retro Thursday: The Darker Side of Childhood w/ updated links

Sunhi Mistwalker

When I wrote “The Shelter” I was terrified of writing something that would offend a lot of people.  But then my old writing mentor’s words rang in my ear, “Bleed on the page!”  Bleeding on the page is when a writer creates something without censoring themselves. And it is in this spirit of non-censorship that I wrote “The Shelter.”  Why was I initially afraid of my own words? Well the truth is that  so much of today’s dystopian fiction chooses to avoid tough issues around growing up, especially when it comes to issues concerning girls. Issues like poverty, sexism and sexual exploitation are often avoided or treated in such a way that the end result can only be compared to magical thinking. Because of this I knew that my story might be viewed as extreme.

Last Spring I was reading a YA novel that’s been compared to Hunger…

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Public Appearance: Elliot Bay Bookstore

13 Mar

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I will be reading from my novel “New Hope City” next month, please join me.

Date: April 14, 2013

Venue: Elliot Bay Bookstore  –  1521 Tenth Avenue, Seattle WA 98122

Time: 1:45pm – 2:10pm

Fee: It’s free!

Paperback versions of this book will be for sale and I will autograph your copy.

 

New Hope City Paperback Winners!

11 Mar

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The winners of the “New Hope City” paperback version have been chosen! Congrats to Holly and Lindsay! Your autographed copies will be mailed this week. For those people who did not win a paperback copy, I am giving away FREE ebook copies to the next 25 11 people who signup for my mailing list. Please signup here to receive a freebie coupon.

ETA: March 13, 2013 THANK YOU to everyone who signed up! I hope you enjoy the novel. If you would like to hear about other giveaway opportunities please feel free to join the mailing list here.  And to those people who won the paperback (you too Jed) I mailed your package yesterday. You should receive it within 3 – 4 days.  BTW, I’m doing another giveaway on LibraryThing for the first episode of “After The Darkness” signup today to get your complimentary copy and don’t forget to leave a review.

What Post-Apocalyptic Societies Really Look Like

8 Jan

When we think of post-apocalyptic worlds many of us envision alien invasions, zombie infections and bloodthirsty vampires. But post-apocalyptic doesn’t have to come in the form of the fantastical and other- worldly, it can be much more insidious.  When we look around the world we see many post-apocalyptic societies. Societies at war, suffering from lack, famine and oppression. And even within the borders of the United States, it can seem that a dystopian like state is upon us. Bankrupt cities and homes with no running water or electricity are more common than many Americans imagine.  The collapse of the real estate industry left many American towns littered with abandoned homes, filled with the newly homeless and freshly minted poor. We got a taste of what it feels like when a system collapses. But what happens when one too many systems collapse? What happens when systemic collapse reaches a tipping point? When I wrote New Hope City, I wanted explore a society where nothing quite works the way it’s supposed to, a society where collapse occurs in a creeping fashion, one small failure at a time.  In New Hope City, things seem normal enough, but once you scratch beneath the surface, that’s not quite the case. A story told through the eyes of 14-year-old Sunni Brown, we get a first-hand account of what happens to a human being forced to live in a collapsing society. Let’s take a look several core failures that exist in post-apocalyptic New Hope City:

Culture of Corruption

Like most dystopian societies, in New Hope City corruption is endemic. But it’s not just the police, city officials and the villains that are corrupt. Corruption infects everyone, even those who try to do good. Corruption is like a fast spreading cancer that will completely consume its host if not stopped. In this type of a society a do-gooder might help the poor but only after they fatten their own wallet and belly. In this type of society a parent will exploit their own child. In this type of society, gangsters own the politicians. And it is corruption that ultimately destroys the society.

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Lack of Vision

Societies experiencing a creeping collapse are filled with people who have no vision for the future. They are incapable of preparing for the future because they don’t really believe there is a future for which to prepare.  Every action is about immediate satisfaction. In these types of societies the education of youth is abandoned, infrastructure is never developed and there is no preparation for future generations. In New Hope City many residents give lip service to the future but few truly make an effort to build towards it. Cynicism is a city motto.

Isolationism

Real life post-apocalyptic societies often isolate themselves from the outside world.  Even if they don’t physically erect walls, they may ignore the world around them. They become insular, only concerning themselves with what’s happening within their city, neighborhood or family. In societies in the later stages of collapse, they may even ignore what’s happening right outside their door, instead choosing to focus on themselves and their immediate family.  In New Hope City crime is out of control because no one wants to get involved. No one considers victims of crime their problem. And in some cases they blame crime victims for their own suffering.

DIY Justice

DYI justice, more commonly known as vigilantism, eventually supersedes official law enforcement channels in a collapsed society. The people not completely consumed by corruption may choose vigilantism to get the justice they want but can’t find through normal channels. In New Hope City there is no justice through the police department or the court system.  While the police and court system exist, they don’t function properly. And it’s with this system’s collapse that Sunni Brown’s story begins.

In New Hope City I tell the story of a teenage girl living in a collapsed society and I explore how this post-apocalyptic world impacts her interactions with others and the choices she makes.  New Hope City is a full-length novel written for adults (not YA fiction). While I think the novel is appropriate for mature teens 16 years and older, parental guidance is advised. Available on Kindle, Nook and Kobo. Other formats coming soon.

SunHi Mistwalker writes fiction set in dystopian and post-apocalyptic worlds. Her new novel New Hope City, a dark coming-of-age story set in a post-apocalyptic America, follows the life of Sunni Brown, a teenage girl exploited by sex traffickers who tries to get a fresh start when she meets a disillusioned cop. She is also the author of the science fiction series After The Darkness. Please sign up for the mailing list for receive updates, freebies and special discounts. You can also follow SunHi on Twitter and Facebook.

“New Hope City” Is Now Published

29 Nov

I’m excited to let everyone know that the novel “New Hope City” is now published.  “New Hope City” is a full-length novel that’s approximately 230 pages.  It’s a follow-up to the short-story “The Shelter.”

Story Description:

After four years of hellish cruelty in a sex trafficking gang, 14 year old Sunni Brown moves to a southern city mired in poverty and despair. She walks with her head bowed and her shoulders slumped like the world is weighing her down – a real victim of the system as they say. However, something inside her is brewing; she slowly grows angrier and hardened. But when she crosses paths with a disillusioned cop, will her growing hatred, rage and the burning desire for revenge change her from helpless victim to raging vigilante?

Buy “New Hope City” Now

“New Hope City” is part of a triology that follows the life of Sunni Brown. Please join our mailing list to receive notifications about future publications and for the opportunity to receive an ARC (Advanced Readers’ Copy).