Hans Lindor, novelist, screenwriter and playwright, has a singularly unique perspective on life and has earned many accolades for his fiction and poetry.
Hans Lindor has used his extraordinary life experiences to inspire young people, and has given motivational speeches and workshops to students in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Florida, advocating against guns, drugs and violence and giving students hope for rising above hardship and social struggles.
For more information about Hans, you can visit his website at www.hanslindor.org
Q: Thank you for this interview, Hans. Can you tell us what your latest book, I am Going Where I Belong, is all about?
A: Thank you for the opportunity. Haiti has always been in the news, and not in a good way. The country is battling a cholera epidemic that has already killed thousands living in remote areas, and is still in the recovery and reconstruction stage after the devastating earthquake. Now there are reports that earthquake survivors, mostly children, are being smuggled into the Dominican Republic and used as prostitutes, drug peddlers, and beggars. It is astonishing to see innocent individuals at the mercy of their grim circumstances. I am Going Where I Belong begins in Haiti where 14 year old Hans Leger is a member of a privileged family. A detour by the family chauffeur one day has Hans and his younger brother seeing a part of Haiti that had been hidden from them. Not long after this chance encounter, Hans’ father is brutally gunned down during a violent coup d’etat, and he, his mother, and younger brother are forced to flee to Miami in search of peaceful refuge. Little does Hans know, though, that upon his arrival in the States, the real challenges of his life are only just beginning…
Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?
A: Marie, a rape victim at eleven years old, is now a fifteen year-old homeless mother who considers her life to be worthless. She never went to school. She doesn’t know how to read or write. Her parents are dead. She is forced into prostitution. Edouard, Hans’ father, a former US Marine, is 42 years old. He works for the Haitian government as Finance Minister. Chriscile is a piano teacher, painter, and choreographer. Edouard dies during a coup d’etat. After his death the family fortuitously fled the country to live in Miami.
Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
A: Yes. I am very passionate to write about real people, however, my characters are totally from my own imagination. My goal is always to make my characters as real as possible so that any readers can relate to them in some way. The response and reviews that I am getting from readers about this book “I am Going Where I Belong” are that it reads like a heartrending memoir. I have several readers who emailed me to send me their sympathy after reading this book, to let me know how sorry they are that I had to go through all of this drama in my life. Some even sent me their prayers. I truly appreciate that there are still some people in this world who care about one’s suffering. One reviewer even gave me three stars. When I contacted that reviewer to ask how could I have made the book better, she told me, “You have a wonderful story about your life that is so inspiring, but you chose not to fully share it with others. I wanted to know more about your life story.” I smiled when I read that. However, this book is not about my life. This book is not my memoir or autobiography. My goal was to write a book that is inspiring. I wanted to write a book to make people feel the pain of the Haitian children and people. I hope I succeeded in doing so, and I would also like to thank my editor for helping me to achieve this objective.
Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?
A: My way of starting to write a story is abnormal. I always start my story from the ending, and then skip to the beginning, and from there I let the story unfold. I really never know what I am going to write about until the story starts developing itself. I never know my plot, or what I am going to write about, even though I am deep in the middle of the story. However, I let my inspiration guide me throughout the whole writing process. I am the slave of my inspiration. When I am writing, I become a different person. I want to be the character that I am creating.
Q: Your book is set in Haiti. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?
A: I started writing this book back in 2006. Just like in the book, my friends and others kept asking me, “Hans, why don’t you write about your story?” I always answer, I can’t write about my story while I am still alive. Each day that passes, basically opens a new chapter in my life. Therefore to me is worthless for one to write about his or her own story. Anyhow, that’s how I ended up writing a story that is based on Haiti. Haiti is a torn country, and today, after a democratic presidential election, two dictators decided to return to Haiti. Both claimed they have returned to bring their moral and intellectual support to the country. Don’t get me wrong, they both have the right to return to the country. No one should ever be forced to flee or leave his or her country. My only hope is that they will only do what they said they came to do. Enough is enough. The country is moribund and it has suffered for decades after decades, all at the mercy of its own politicians and people. The victor will inherit a torn country that is still in the recovery and reconstruction stage after the devastating earthquake. Described in more vivid and grim terms in the book, I sum up Haiti’s existence in one sentence: “The existence of the Haitian people seems based on despair, vicissitudes, and destitution.”
Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?
A: Throughout the book Haiti is front and center. The American people and others know two things about Haiti as it’s always being described by the media: poverty and violence. The media tend to forget that the country has some good things about it as well. I blame the Haitian so-called politicians for shamefully giving this image about the country. Let’s take Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Mexico for examples: not to denigrate them, but these countries have some downsides with violence and poverty as well, yet they are always portrayed as vacation/romantic getaways. Why is that? They simply have better politicians who somehow care about their country’s dignity. I think it is now time for our ostensible politicians to search within their souls to make the right choices and finally move the country forward, but I doubt it will happen. I am an idealist. I am Going Where I Belong gives my point of view on my solution for Haiti. The book explains and shows a different side of the country.
Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?
A: The main character, Hans, is hanging out with his friends. He is telling them that he caught his cheerleading girlfriend with another. But Johny, an ex-Marine friend of Hans, wants to talk about something else while drinking his beer. He is expressing his disdain toward the American government’s foreign policy. His belief is that the USA is being the cop of the world, going to the Middle East and killing other nations for oil, and that America is responsible for all the trouble in the world. He believes if the American government really wanted peace in the world, we would have it by now. Instead, they choose to spend billions making nuclear bombs while millions of children are starving to death in Haiti and Africa and other places, even here in the USA itself. He is getting very frustrated pouring out these fearful words. It’s fun!
Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?
A: The excerpt that I am giving you is about Marie, the girl I wrote about in the book. At 15, she considered her life to be worthless. She never went to school. She didn’t know how to read or write. Her parents were dead. She was forced to sell her body as a way to save her life, or she would have faced death if she refused to comply. When hunger became unbearable, Marie begged, hoping to get some change to be able to feed her son, whom she had after she was raped. She was a young woman in despair, buried in the human meanness of society. People don’t know that child prostitution is the second biggest income in the world. There are many young girls like Marie around the world, who forcefully sell their youthful bodies to survive each and every day. I wanted the readers to hear their voices. Here it is:
I walked by an abandoned park where another group of suppliers installed their merchandise. A rusty fire hose poured out water onto the street. I had to walk on my tippy toes to avoid getting my shoes wet when I crossed the street to get to the cemetery. I looked all around for the girl. She was nowhere to be found. As I walked among the gravestones, I saw a girl pulling up her panties, then a white man in his late thirties or early forties zipping up his pants. The white man handed the girl some money. She looked at me with teary eyes as she mumbled, “Mesi blan” (“Thank you, sir”) to the man. My heart pounded as rage ran through my veins. The foreigner left and the girl walked out of the cemetery. She handed over the money to a Haitian man who was waiting for her by the exit. I guessed he was her pimp.
“Good job,” the Haitian man said to her. Yet again, I wanted to confront this guy but I had to bear in mind that in this country, death is just a game; you can easily get killed before you even take your next breath. I looked up to the blue sky and whispered a few words to God. Out of nowhere, the little boy whom I’d seen crying yesterday ran up to her.
“Manman(“Mommy”)” he cried in Creole, hugging her with jubilation. I was shocked yet contented to see that naked little boy with a swollen belly and dry skin in high spirits that day. I walked up to them and handed some money and my lunch to her.
“Thank you, sir.” She bowed her head to thank me.
“You are welcome,” I said to her.
The little boy snatched the lunchbox from her and was fast to unzip it.
“Wait!” She seized the box back from him. He got angry, throwing himself on the dusty ground next to a homeless man sleeping on three pieces of cardboard. “Here, here. You are never fully satisfied. Leave some for later.” Embarrassed, she tendered the box back to him.
He got to his feet, eyes filled with light tears, and smiled at his mother. He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. He unwrapped the sandwich and took a huge bite. I stood there thinking how at home we wasted food every day when there were so many men, women and children dying from malnourishment in this country. Watching this little boy fighting his mother for a lunch I probably would have wasted made me realize how fortunate I was. To them, this egg sandwich was a treasure, and to me it belonged in the trash.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Hans. We wish you much success!
A: My pleasure. My name is Hans Lindor, author of I am Going Where I Belong. I wrote this novel because I believe every child has the right to live, and that women are the beauty of life and face of nature. They should never be abused, whether it is in the mental or physical sense. Every human being should have the right to freedom. I Am Going Where I Belong demonstrates that one can overcome social hardships. The message of the book is clear and simple: never let racial barriers, poverty, depression or hopelessness rob you of your dreams and prevent you from achieving greatness. Please find an organization of your choice to make a donation, whether it is to help fight hunger, human trafficking, abuse, prostitution, or violent acts against women. There is a legitimate non-profit organization one that I personally recommend, “Serving Our World.” Please visit their website to make a donation, www.servingourworld.org. I can also be contacted via my website at www.hanslindor.org or http://www.goodreads.com/hanslindor.