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US Book Breakthrough For Kiwi Author

Northland writer Michael Botur has broken into the US publishing world with the launch of his sixth short story collection.

Hell of a Thing, published by The Sager Group, is sixteen short stories covering conflicts and challenges in the lives of average Kiwis and Americans.

In the collection, a cowardly father seeks a more exciting son; two lovers on a posh date dine on self-delusion; and an author turns his back on his past—until the past demands violent closure. Readers also meet artistic terrorists, renegade daughters, an Uber drivers from Waziristan and Aranui, and a clique of casino kids up way past their bedtime.

The book is the sixth in a series of short story collections which have been garnering rave reviews.

“Everything has a distinctive Kiwi flavour that lends a counter-clockwise swirl to otherwise familiar settings,” San Diego-based publisher and US long form journalism legend Mike Sager said.

Botur said he wanted to work with The Sager Group because “I think it’s distinctive to have a publishing company headed by somebody who has written a huge amount. Think about it – how many other publishers are headed by a real writer? Almost none.”

“Mike Sager is an idol to me and I was excited to get a conversation going with him six years ago,” Botur said. “It all began when I was training as a journalist and I stumbled upon Scary Monsters and Super Freaks, a collection of Sager’s journalism. I was enthralled and I read all his work over the next few years. I sent him some fan mail, he sent me back a free book, and then at the end of 2018 we started a conversation about publishing with him.”

“Everyone knows I move very fast with my writing, so I try to pause occasionally to be grateful because it can seem a bit surreal. Mike Sager has been – and continues to be – involved with writing around Pulitzer Prize winners, famous porn stars, a Seinfeld writer, Game of Thrones stars… you name it.”

“It’s pretty funny interacting with people who are one degree of separation from Hollywood, or sometimes they’re already immersed in Hollywood. Considering I’m going into the giant economy of the US, hopefully some of my stories can reach larger audiences and influential people. I certainly follow US fiction writers closely.”

Hell of a Thing comes with a glossary of Kiwi slang to help American audiences understand New Zealand English and the occasional use of te reo Māori. 
“I’ve learned that Americans think we are unusual and eccentric, whereas we think the same thing about them!”

The launch comes fresh off the back of Crimechurch, a novel with an endorsement from Alan Duff which Botur said he was relieved to get published before the COVID lockdown affected publishing.

“The launch of Hell of a Thing will probably be remote. But I can’t wait to read stories in front of real human audiences again.”

© Scoop Media

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