Monday, January 2, 2017

Interview with contemporary fiction writer Hend Hegazi

Contemporary fiction writer Hend Hegazi is first up on Reviews and Interviews for this new year. We’re talking about her new novel, Behind Picket Fences.

During her virtual book tour, Hend will be awarding one copy of Normal Calm and a copy of Behind Picket Fences (U.S. and International) to lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Hend Hegazi was born and raised in Southeastern Massachusetts. Despite her desire to pursue writing as a profession, she graduated from Smith College with a degree in biology and a minor in religion. Shortly thereafter, the winds of life and love blew her to Egypt where she has been living for the past 14 years. She is a full-time mother of four as well as a freelance writer and editor. Some of her work has been featured in SISTERS Magazine. Her fiction and poetry focus on the human condition, often shedding light on the Muslim American experience. Hend strives to be God-conscious and aims to raise that awareness in her readers. As a common theme in her pieces, the intimate relationship between God-consciousness and love is often explored. Hend’s debut novel, Normal Calm, was published in January 2014.

Welcome, Hend. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Behind Picket Fences is a story which looks beyond the fronts of happiness and security that so many families put up to hide the truth of their struggles. It exposes the hardships in four neighboring families, revealing infertility, infidelity, and mental illness as just a few of the issues the characters face.

What inspired you to write this book?
Often times in our lives, we look to our colleagues or neighbors and feel jealous at their situation. We may look at a colleague who recently received a promotion—with a substantial salary increase—and find ourselves wishing we had her life. Or we may look at a couple who is happily chasing their children around a park, and wish that we, too, had that kind of familial contentment. But the truth of life is that no one has it perfectly; that colleague with the promotion may be battling a fatal disease, that happy family may be drowning in bills. We all struggle with something, no matter how well hidden that struggle may be. With Behind Picket Fences, my goal was to raise awareness not of the struggles we face, but of the blessings we may take for granted. The invisible blessings which surround us are what inspired me to write this book.

Excerpt from Behind Picket Fences:
“Actually,” Farris interrupted, “I’m just going to call it a night.” Farris began to walk away without saying goodbye or even recognizing the women. Faruq stood there for a second, jaw open, utterly embarrassed by his brother’s anti-social behavior. “I’ll be right back, ladies. Don’t go anywhere.”

He ran after his brother and quickly caught up with him. “Man, what are you doing?! This is the best thing for you right now.”

“I don’t want this. This has never been my scene, Faruq, and you know that. I’m just going to…”

But the sight of something beyond Farris made his brother interrupt, grabbing him by the shoulder. “That’s him! Farris, man, that’s him!” Faruq shouted, pointing in the direction he was looking.

Turning around so he could see what Faruq was pointing to, Farris narrowed his eyes. “What are you talking about, Faruq? That’s who?”

“That’s him!” Faruq repeated, excitedly grabbing Farris’ shirt at the shoulder. “That’s the man I saw with Sidra!”

The words forced Farris’ eyes into focus. He saw the tall, brown haired white man so vividly, as if he were the only one in the parking lot. He didn’t hesitate for even a split second; Faruq barely blinked, and suddenly Farris was sprinting toward James. He lunged at him, punching him square in the face. The man fell to the ground as the woman who was with him let out a gasp and crouched to the floor beside him.

Looking up at the attacker she screamed, “What the hell is wrong with you?! Why did you punch my husband?!”

Farris hovered over the couple, breathing heavily, rubbing his throbbing knuckles. Faruq, now standing beside his brother, held Farris’ arm back and spoke out, “Your husband is having an affair with his wife. Isn’t that right, James?”

“James?!” the woman yelled. “He’s not James!”

What exciting story are you working on next?
Currently I’m writing a novel about a woman with undiagnosed high functioning autism who is facing divorce and the struggle to retain custody of her two children. She happens to be a convert to Islam, and with the rise in Islamophobia all around the US, this complicates her life even more. Although I am somewhat close to finishing the first draft, the story is still developing, and I feel that my main character probably has some secrets she has yet to share with me.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have loved to write ever since I was in third grade, and although writing has been a part of me ever since then, that does not mean that I have been writing consistently all my life. About five years ago I decided that I had wasted enough time, and I began to take my writing seriously. With my first novel, Normal Calm, I had proven to myself that I could be an author. But that only led me to ask myself, “Are you truly an author, or just someone who wrote a book once?” And that self dare propelled me to finish Behind Picket Fences.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I am a full-time mother of four, which means my kids make sure I don’t write full-time. I manage a two-hour writing session while they are at school, and although I would love another writing session in the evening…well…my kids always see to it that that doesn’t happen!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Although it takes me more time to produce a draft, I prefer to write by hand, using pen and paper. Usually I write 10 or 20 pages, then transcribe them to the computer. I have sticky notes all over my notebook, which get transferred as comments on my digital document. It’s more time consuming, but I enjoy not having to be stuck in front of a screen while I’m writing.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A brain surgeon! Can you believe that?!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
You can read my poetry and blog posts on my website and follow me on Facebook. For updates on giveaways and special offers, kindly opt-in to my free newsletter.

Both of my novels are available through most major book distributors, or click here to purchase through Amazon: Normal Calm, Behind Picket Fences.

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!
Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure!


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Rita Wray said...

I liked the excerpt, thank you.

Raheemah Odusote said...

I have Normal Calm which I have started reading and wouldn't mind getting Behind Picket Fence too.
I love reading the excerpt and it really pricked my interest. I laughed when the wife of the man Faruq knocked down said, "He is not James." What a shock. Looking forward to reading more of the interviews on the tour. I wish Hend a successful tour. Thaks Lisa for the interview.

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