Monday, February 20, 2017

NBTM + #Giveaway: Behind Picket Fences by Hend Hegazi @GoddessFish

Behind Picket Fences
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.

Interview with Hend Hegazi:

What inspired you to write Behind Picket Fences?

It seems to me that people have become less aware of the blessings in their lives, and more concerned with the luxuries of those around them. I wanted to show the reality that nobody lives an enviable life, no matter how perfect it appears to be. I began with that idea, and the struggles of each family (infidelity, infertility, mental illness, poor physical health, and financial troubles) came easily, because in real life, these are common hardships many people face.

When or at what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I was in third grade when I knew I wanted to be a writer. I would write plays and ask the teacher if my friends and I could perform them in front of the class. Pretty embarrassing, actually, looking back on it. But I knew I loved to create stories.
I didn’t start taking my writing seriously until about 5 years ago, though. I was writing a short story, for my own pleasure and with no real intention of looking to get it published, when I had an epiphany (of sorts) that led me to expand the story into a novel. A couple of years later, when the novel kept refusing to write itself, I asked myself whether or not I was really a writer or just someone who dreamed about it. That self-confrontation was the push I needed to complete my first novel.

What is the earliest age you remember reading your first book?

I don’t remember the exact age, but I’m sure I was in elementary school…maybe second or third grade.

What genre of books do you enjoy reading?

I have yet to meet a genre I don’t enjoy. I’ve enjoyed crime fiction, fantasy, the classics…everything. I’m always open to exploring new genres. With non-fiction, I steer toward parenting, although I’ve delved into some self-help as well. But if you’re asking what my favorite genre is, then it is definitely contemporary fiction; I like walking in the shoes of characters whose lives could have been my own.

What is your favorite book?

The Kite Runner. I read it about 12 or 13 years ago, and have yet to be as affected by a fictional story since then.

You know I think we all have a favorite author. Who is your favorite author and why?

I have to say Khaled Hosseini. I’ve enjoyed each of his books. The language he uses captivates his readers, pulling them into the story. There are many great fiction writers out there, but I do think that Hosseini’s talent is on another level.

If you could travel back in time here on earth to any place or time. Where would you go and why?

This is a wonderful question, but I have no finite answer. I yearn for a simpler time, a time where peace and goodness were more powerful than war, where people looked out for each other, regardless of nationality or religion, simply because that’s the proper thing to do. The truth is, while we can’t go back in history, we can affect the future. I just hope that the choices of today’s generations will refresh and build a better, more peaceful, more compassionate world for tomorrow.

When writing a book do you find that writing comes easy for you or is it a difficult task?

Sometimes the words write themselves, and sometimes I stare at a blank page for hours before I can put down anything useable. The ease of it comes in waves, but the further along I get in the re-writing of a story (meaning once the first draft is finished), it tends to be much smoother. Perhaps this is because I have lived with the characters for longer by then, so I know them better. Or perhaps it is because having the ending in sight helps to keep my mind sharper. Perhaps it’s a bit of both.

Do you have any little fuzzy friends? Like a dog or a cat? Or any pets?

My kids are dying to get a dog, but we live in an apartment: no adequate room for pets. Besides, my monkeys provide us with enough work, play, and love.

What is your “to die for”, favorite food/foods to eat?

Lobster, no question. Here in Egypt, we don’t have lobster, so when I visit my folks back in Massachusetts, I get in at least one lobster meal.

Do you have any advice for anyone that would like to be an author?

The sooner you start calling yourself a writer, the sooner you’ll start taking your own writing seriously, the sooner you’ll find success. So own it. It doesn’t matter if you have yet to be published, it doesn’t matter how old or how young you are, whether or not you have a degree, and whether or not your degree has anything to do with writing. None of that matters. All that matters is that you write and continuously work to improve your writing.


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,, and follow her on Facebook at For updates on giveaways and special offers, kindly opt-in to her free newsletter at this link

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


One copy of Normal Calm and a copy of Behind Picket Fences (U.S. and International)

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Rita Wray said...

I liked the interview.

jean602 said...

Great interview the book sounds good.Love the cover.
Nancy Burgess