by Hend Hegazi
GENRE: Fiction – contemporary
Behind Picket Fences exposes four families from behind their comfortable lifestyles and smiling faces. Sharing the same neighborhood, even spending time together, no family knows the truth about the difficulties the others face.
On the outside, Sidra and Farris have the biggest house and the most expensive cars. What no one sees is their struggle to accept an unfulfilled dream. If they do not adapt to the blows of fate, their malcontent may give birth to deception.
Mariam and Morgan’s modest home exudes the rich scent of family. With children playing in the yard, they seem picture perfect. But financial struggle is their continuous battle, and their only solution may produce an envy which is more destructive than hunger.
Summer and Porter enjoy youth and the freedom of self-employment. But discontentment and mental instability linger between them. If they are not able to bridge the gap, their search for happiness may have a fatal end.
May and Hasan enjoy peace and true happiness. Illness cares not, however, of letting them relish in their blessings. Only patience and time will prove if this unwelcome visitor is simply passing by, or if it will tear their world apart.
An honest portrayal of love and family, Behind Picket Fences opens our eyes to the difficult truths hidden behind each happy facade.
At half past six she began to get worried, but told herself to give him fifteen more minutes. “His will be the next car around the turn,” she assured herself. But the passing of more than a few cars and fifteen minutes made her unable to wait any longer. She dialed his number once, with no answer. She hung up and dialed again immediately. The second time, there was an answer.
“Hello?” the woman’s voice said.
The words Summer had been ready to speak got lodged in her throat and she stood there, barely breathing.
“Hello?” the voice repeated, a little louder this time.
Summer’s hand began to shake and a moment later she let the phone drop from her weak fingers. Her breathing became labored and she raised her hand to her chest to soothe the jabbing, but the pain would not cease. Rather, it spread from her heart and ran all through her body. Her legs suddenly became too weak to hold her and she fell seated to the floor.
What a cruel way to tell me, Porter, she thought as the tears streamed down her face. So cruel.
The guilt in her told her she deserved it. She had deceived him in the worst way possible and broken his heart; why wouldn’t he seek comfort in the arms of someone else?
But then why had he agreed to dinner? Simply to get revenge? To make me feel the pain that I had put him through? Really? Why did I let myself get my hopes up? Why did I think he could forgive me? Why did I not expect him to turn to another woman? All the questions ran through her mind as her heavy breathing turned to sobs and she cradled herself, rocking back and forth. Porter had just shattered the last bit of hope she had been clinging to, and broken any remaining pieces of her heart.
The tears flowed for what felt like hours. When they finally stopped, she stood up feeling drained and jaded. Summer cleaned up the kitchen, her body unable to move at its usual pace. She threw the food directly into the garbage instead of putting it away in the fridge; she wanted no reminders of the evening she had expected to have. Carefully, she walked to her bedroom and stepped out of her dress and into a pair of sweat pants and a tank top. Pulling her hair into a tight pony tail, she turned off all the lights in the house, and paused just outside the bathroom. The medicine cabinet seemed to whisper her name.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
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.
You can read her poetry and blog posts on her website, www.hendhegazi.com, and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AuthorHendHegazi. For updates on giveaways and special offers, kindly opt-in to her free newsletter at this link http://eepurl.com/bZa7fH.
Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!
I was born and raised in a small town in Massachusetts. Shortly after I graduated from Smith College, I moved to Egypt to be with my husband. I’ve been living here for the past 15 years and am a stay-at-home mom of four. I’ve always dreamed of being a published novelist, so about five or six years ago, I finally started to take my writing seriously. My first novel, Normal Calm, was published by FB Publishing in January 2014. Some of my non-fiction pieces have appeared in SISTERS Magazine and Azizah Magazine as well as my blog. My website features some of my poetry.
Tell us about your book? How did it get started?
Behind Picket Fences exposes the struggles of four neighboring families that remain hidden behind the façade of happiness. The characters experience mental illness, infidelity, infertility, and much more. The idea came to me when I realized that people so often do not know the realities of the people around them; we know only as much as others allow us to see. No home is free from trials no matter how blessed it may appear to be on the outside, and so often, those very blessings go unnoticed by the people in that home.
How do you create your characters?
Many of my characters adopt characteristics of people I’ve met throughout my life, although they are never duplicates. Often the flaws and virtues of my characters are revealed to me throughout the writing process, not before. As they develop, the characters become real to me, and while I can often see body forms, I hardly ever see faces. I do find myself living with them, living through their struggles. At least once during the writing of Behind Picket Fences, I became so emotionally involved with one specific character, that I had to put my writing away for a while. I thought to myself, “What is wrong with you?! This is a character you have made up, she is a figment of your imagination. NONE of this is real!” But even though I knew it made no sense (and probably means I’m at least a bit crazy), I found myself weeping for her.
Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)
I write at my dining room table, usually about two hours per day. I can’t have music on as I write or even the TV for background noise; I need it to be fairly quiet so that I can focus. That doesn’t stop me from wasting my time on Facebook, of course, but let’s just pretend that’s done in the name of research.
How do you get your ideas for writing?
Both of my books began as plot ideas which stemmed from problems I noticed in society. In Normal Calm, the atrocity of victim blaming was the trigger. I couldn’t stand the fact that rape victims are often slandered for a crime done against them. I felt like I needed to say something about it.
In Behind Picket Fences, the lack of gratitude prevalent all over society sparked in me a need to unveil the blessings we so often take for granted.
What do you like to read?
My favorite author is Khaled Hosseini, with The Kite Runner being my favorite book. But generally, my taste in books is diverse and any story that can keep my attention and pull at my emotions is a winner. Authors on my bookshelf range from Charlotte Bronte, to Mitch Albom, to Stephenie Meyer, to Umm Juwayriyah, to Ausma Zehanat Khan, and so much more.
What would your advice be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?
In my opinion, the first and most important step in an author’s career is owning it. You need not have any credentials to be a writer, nor must you be previously published. You just have to want it enough to believe in yourself. Until an author calls herself a writer, she won’t take her writing seriously. So own it; say to yourself, “I am a writer.” Once you do, you will do your best to live up to the title and to continue to improve your craft.
Hend Hegazi will be awarding one copy of Normal Calm and a copy of Behind Picket Fences (U.S. and International) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
a Rafflecopter giveaway