Tuesday, April 2, 2024

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


Phoenix Blackwood

GENRE: LGBTQIA+ Coming of Age


Phee hides her secrets well, until they become too much to bear. Her biggest secret is one she’s kept even from herself. Her longest-kept secret is one that hurts her every day. Her final secret is one that will set her free.

In a school that doesn’t accept them, Phee, Theo, and Alex fight for a community close to their hearts. The community desperately needs the trio to help the rest of them leave the shadows without fear of violence and discrimination. Through some heroic activism, the three push the school officials to their limits — forcing them to act — for better or worse.

For Phee, the fight for a place where she can be herself doesn’t stop when she gets home. The strain of taking care of her alcoholic and abusive mother threatens to break Phee away from her family bond forever. Her mother can go from a messy drunk to an angry one in an instant, turning Phee’s home life from an obligation to a war zone.

Theo’s house offers respite to Phee. With compassion scarce in her life, Alex and Theo are Phee’s light in the dark. They protect and cherish her. At Theo’s, Phee is free to be herself and explore her identity safely — her chosen family ready to catch her if she falls. That’s what family does, how family finds us when we feel lost and alone.



No!” I screamed, flailing against her as she pinned me down with one arm and cut with the other, lock after lock of black hair falling to the ground and into the sink.

Tears came next, as I fought the futile fight to get her to stop. I shrieked, begging for her to stop, but she just kept going, until there was nothing left. Just jagged tufts of hair sticking straight up from my scalp. She let go of me, throwing the scissors back into the drawer and slamming it shut without a word. She looked at me with the most haunting gaze I’d ever seen out of her, shook her head, and then walked into her room, slamming her door behind her. My knees grew weak, and I fell to the ground, clutching the discarded chunks of my hair that lay strewn about the floor.

My wails could’ve been heard a block away. I’d found two things I liked about myself last night, and now one of them was gone.

Eventually, I dragged myself into my room, picking up my phone and texting Theo through my tears to come get me. Not even ten minutes later, there was a knock at the apartment door. I was still crying as I opened it to watch Theo’s face morph in horror as they caught sight of me.

Oh my god, Phee, what did she do?”

I shook my head, staring down at the floor as tears fell from my face. Theo wrapped their arms around me, and I choked out, “She was sober.”

Theo rubbed my back for a minute, then guided me towards my room, “C’mon, get your stuff. You’re gonna stay at my house.” I grabbed the discarded makeup from my floor and stuffed it into a duffel bag, along with a couple changes of clothes. Then, I grabbed my backpack and solemnly followed Theo out the door, locking it behind me.

Interview with Phoenix Blackwood

Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

One of the first queer books I ever read was A Boy Like Me by Jennie Wood. That was the book that made me think I could write the Surviving Youth Trilogy, and the one that ultimately led me to start writing. Before that, I had a pretty “meh” view on fiction in general – it was very difficult for a book to catch my attention and keep it. A Boy Like Me was my introduction to queer literature, and I’ve been hooked ever since – I honestly don’t really read anything that’s not queer. (I’ve tried, I always end up bored)

How do you select the names of your characters?

My character’s names just kind of come to me, they pop in my brain when I think of the character and who they are. The main character of The Family that Finds Us was a bit different, though! Her name’s been “Phee” for a while, but originally it was short for “Phoenix” before I selected my pen name. When it finally came time to write this book, I realized there would have to be a shift! I did a lot of digging through lists of “P” names to try and keep Phee as her nickname, and eventually settled on Phiona.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

My mind’s drawing a blank, but I know there’s a few things sprinkled in that only friends of mine may notice, or some things that call back to earlier books in the series. If I reread them I guess it’ll be a surprise for me too!

What was your hardest scene to write?

I think the most difficult scenes I’ve ever had to write were back in Secrets, but as for Family, I know some of the most difficult were the interactions between Phee and her mother. Some of these scenes remind me a lot of my own childhood, and I know exactly how Phee felt during them. Phee’s got such a strong will though, it felt somewhat cathartic to see the way she stands up for what she believes in, even if it doesn’t always end in the best way. Seeing the way Phee’s relationship with her mother changes throughout the book was beautiful even if it was difficult.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

For the Surviving Youth Trilogy, I think it’s both! Each book does work on its own, you can pick up any one of them without missing a beat. However, there is a story progression if you start at the beginning and read through the series. You can watch each character and their relationships with each other blossom and grow as a whole story, or you can hone in on each character’s specific journey.

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

In The Family that Finds Us, I wanted to show how important it is to be true to yourself, even in the face of adversity. I wanted to explore different relationships and how they can be tumultuous, but still have the potential to change. I wanted to show that with a support system, we can be who we truly are even if we’re afraid. I think, through Phee’s eyes, we can see how difficult some of these decisions are, and even admitting things to ourselves can be scary at times. I think Phee is able to demonstrate how we have to fight for what we need sometimes, but that those who truly love us will be there in the end.

What inspired you to write THE FAMILY THAT FINDS US?

I give a lot of credit to my publisher for this one – if they hadn’t pushed me to explore the idea of a full trilogy, Surviving Youth might’ve only been a duology! I don’t think it would’ve been as complete as it is now if that were the case. Phee was always kind of the odd one out in the series, pushed to the side and forgotten about a little bit. She deserved to have her story told as well, and I’m glad I did it in the end.

Can you tell us a little bit about the next books in Surviving Youth Trilogy or what you have planned for the future?

While this is the final book in the Surviving Youth Trilogy, this isn’t the end for me! I’m currently working on a standalone new adult book, about the twists and turns of a relationship that may not be as healthy as it seems. This ties in pretty closely with not only my own experience, but also in my work at my day job! I work in a domestic violence agency, and a lot of the advocacy I do is very close to my heart, especially in queer relationships. While I hadn’t originally intended for this upcoming book to be so closely related, I think it’s evolving as I write in a way that is going to make the story very powerful.

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in The Family that Finds Us?

We’ve already had books on Theo and Alex, but if you haven’t read them, here’s the breakdown! Theo is non-binary, very out and proud. Did a lot of inner work to get there and struggles quite a bit with PTSD, but it’s been a journey throughout the series and I believe a lot of their incredibly strong will and resilience really comes through in Family. They’ll do anything to protect those that they love. Alex is intersex but identifies very strongly as a girl, and is happily in a relationship with Theo. They’re inseparable – Alex really stood by Theo when their struggles were the worst and Theo did the same for her. Alex and Phee weren’t incredibly close in the books leading up to Family, for reasons that are revealed in the book, but they take on a whole new kind of camaraderie with each other in Family. Phee is a people pleaser through and through and has always done what she thought others wanted of her, and thus she’s been a bit of a chameleon throughout the series. In Family, we begin to get a sense of her inner life and struggles that she hasn’t made apparent in the past.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I really enjoyed writing a character very subtly as being on the autism spectrum, a whole different experience of the world than the two characters who were under the spotlight in the previous books. Alex is very close to being neurotypical, and while Theo does struggle with significant mental health pieces, they’re not on the spectrum. Phee has a whole different take on the world, and she doesn’t always realize how differently things affect her. What’s beautiful about it is how her friends don’t miss a beat when she’s overstimulated, and immediately spring into action to help make things better. Phee is undiagnosed, and her friends don’t even speculate. They just see her needs, and do everything they can to meet them. This type of relationship between neurodivergent characters is one that I feel we don’t see often enough.

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.


$10 Amazon/BN GC 

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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you so much for hosting THE FAMILY THAT FINDS US today.

Marcy Meyer said...

The blurb sounds good. Thanks for sharing.

Sherry said...

This sounds like a good book.