Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Virtual Book Tour + #Giveaway: The Secrets that Kill Us by Phoenix Blackwood @NixBlackwood @GoddessFish

The Secrets that Kill Us

by Phoenix Blackwood

GENRE: Contemporary Fiction/ LGBTQIA+


At sixteen, Liz had already trudged through hell and back. Having bounced from one foster home to another most of her life, she finally finds herself in a stable home. But stability poses its own challenges after a life of unsteady fooling, and Liz grapples to find a way to be still. Her past still plagues her in this new world. Everything feels wrong, she is at odds with her own body and mind, and struggling to survive.

Liz finds an unlikely friend in Alex, a girl who may not share Liz’s troubled past but strives to understand, even though it means becoming a pariah at school. With Alex’s help, Liz searches for the strength to confront her demons, and the two see each other through addictions, transitions, and the dangerous consequences of coping.

Unable to let herself trust and love, even in this new space with new support, Liz’s trauma begins to drag her under. Some secrets kill, and some truths fight to stay hidden. Unearthing them all will require Liz to trust others despite a lifetime of learning just how dangerous that is.

Purchase The Secrets that Kill Us on Amazon


High school wasn’t much different than middle school, other than things being less sticky and more dingy. I’d made it through freshman year by the skin of my teeth, and now the daunting task of sophomore year stood before me, halfway accomplished. The guys were a lot more obnoxious, graduating from senseless teasing to aggression in order to fulfill their newfound need for overbearing toxic masculinity. I rolled my eyes as I walked past a group of guys pushing each other around, proving my point. At least I wasn’t the new kid this time. I’d somehow managed to keep up with the class and graduate. I'd made it through a year and a half of high school without being held back. It was still a constant struggle. When I got to my locker I squinted at the paper I’d been given for the code, bringing it closer to my face. Contacts weren’t cutting it, I really needed to wear my glasses. But damn, did I hate them. After a few different attempts I managed to get the right numbers and threw the books I didn’t need in. They made a loud slam as they hit the back of the locker.

Interview with Phoenix Blackwood

    How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?

The Secrets that Kill Us has a few main themes, most of which I have personal experience with. Queerness and struggles with mental health are the two main subjects. My novel grew up with me, as I started thinking about and creating these characters when I was twelve, and Liz’s character creation was my way of exploring my identity at the time. There’s many similarities between Liz’s self-discovery and my own, although not all of them made it into the book.

    What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?

Liz’s struggle with mental health was my way of showing the world what it’s like inside of someone’s head with depression and PTSD. I hope people who struggle with these disorders can find comfort in Liz’s character. She’s messy, imperfect, but still loved and I want people to see that they don’t have to be neurotypical to deserve love. I also wanted people to see that being queer doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a happy ending, and that the right person will value you even with your imperfections. I’m not always the most confident in my work, but I truly hope I achieved this in my book and that it will help people.

    What was the hardest part of writing this book?

Definitely some of the traumatic scenes that are based around sexual abuse or assault. I have a difficult time dealing with these type of scenes, and writing them took me to a dark place, but I felt that they were necessary to get a full view of the scope of Liz’s trauma and why she reacts to some situations in the way that she does.

    What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

The cute, lighthearted scenes between Liz and her partner, they were so much fun and felt like experiences that Liz really deserved to have after everything she’s been through. I also really enjoyed writing Sam, a character that comes in later in the book, her personality was one of my favorites I’ve ever written.

    Were there alternate endings you considered?

As this story has been developing since I was twelve, there were all kinds of alternate scenes and endings that I worked through in my head. Some tragic, some heroic. Once I was actually writing the book, however, the one that came to me seemed the most fitting and I didn’t really explore other options.

    Can you share some stories about people you meant while researching this book?

I wouldn’t exactly call it researching, but when I was hospitalized for my own mental health I met this therapist who was the inspiration for one of my characters. She was kind, down to earth, and helped me with a lot of problem solving in my own life.

    What genre of books do you enjoy reading?

Any kind of queer lit. I’ll read pretty much anything as long as there’s queer characters in it. There was a long period of time where I just didn’t read, and then when I picked up a queer book (A Boy Like Me by Jennie Wood) at Boston Comic Con I started seeking out books with queer rep and haven’t stopped since.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Born and raised in New England, Phoenix has always been a creative – whether it’s painting or writing. From a very young age, Phoenix has envisioned and created characters, writing them into existence and exploring them through visual arts. Having graduated to first-time short story author, Phoenix is embarking on a journey towards novel writing as they finally bring characters they’ve known for years into the world. Phoenix is neurodiverse and intersex and hopes to bring more representation to both topics with their writing. They believe in creating relatable characters that people can find themselves in and empathize with.

Website ~ Twitter



$10 GC to your favorite online bookseller

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Sherry said...

I really like the excerpt and the interview.

Edgar Gerik said...

Great interview

bn100 said...

nice interview

pippirose said...

Thanks for the great interview and excerpt. The book sounds very interesting.