Curbing curiosities, or an interview with Hazel Black author of The Gifts of Our Mothers (and a giveaway)


gifts of our mothers

The Gifts of Our Mothers (The Witches of Auburn #1)

By: Hazel Black

Publisher: October 2nd, 2017

Publication Date: Brunswick House

In the dark woods I’m forbidden to go into, lying on top of the one person I swore I’d stay away from, and hiding from the men who chased him, I hold still as Ike Kennedy whispers in my ear, “Don’t leave me.”

The questions of why my mother packed up our lives and moved us to Auburn, New Jersey when she, herself, fled here twenty years ago, plague me every day. Her past and the people in this town loom over our family with a haunting understanding of the coven I was born into, but realize I know nothing about. The enemies I heard stories about as a child attack without warning or regard for human life, but I don’t know who they are.

I’m Ever Ayars. I can fly. I can disappear. I can move things with my mind, but my gifts are my only clarity. Lost within a new school, new friends, and a new life, there is only one thing I know for sure.

I’m not leaving Ike Kennedy.

1) If you emptied out your purse, wallet, desk drawer, pockets, backpack, beach bag, saddle bag, or fanny pack, what would we find?

You would find a mess, I’m sure. Right now, in my purse I have a sunglasses case – empty, sunglasses thrown in next to it, wallet, water bottle, mints, last week’s mail, a paper calendar, at least three lip glosses, random receipts, and always a notebook to write in.

2) What is your writing process? Are you a plotter or a panster? Which do you prefer: drafting or revising?

I am a panster, so for me, I prefer drafting. I always say the first draft is the party and editing is the clean up the day after. There’s no compare. At least not for me. I have an amazing team of editors. From developmental to copy to proof reader, and I am amazed at their talent, but I still do not enjoy that part of publishing.

3) What is your number one writing tip?

Write a book that you love! Writing is like taking a piece of your soul, typing it up, and putting it on display for the world to see and judge it. You’ll be swallowed whole if you give up what you know about a character to follow a trend in the industry. Just write a book that makes you choke up at the good parts or want to throw it across the room in anger. If you love your book, it won’t matter what anyone else thinks.

4) Describe you book in 5 words or less.

Fiercely loyal witches surviving life.

5)  A book goes through a lot of different versions and rounds of editing before it’s complete.  What are some “fun facts” or behind the scenes info you can share about the characters from your book or the world you created for it that may or may not have made it to the final draft of the book? (~3 or more)

Well, this was my first paranormal book so much of the first draft was thrown away. (I can laugh about this now.) My witches are a powerful bunch, but in the original draft they had even greater gifts. They could communicate with animals in their minds, stop time, and erase someone’s memory. As you can imagine, too many powers makes for an unbelievable storyline, characters that are hard to relate to, and outrageous conflicts because it’s easy for them to overcome any situation.

The original format of the book was written mostly from Ever’s point of view. There were chapters sprinkled in throughout the work from each of the other adult witches and Isaiah. These were removed during the first round because it pulled the story from YA. Ultimately it might not have mattered because I ended up beefing up the sections about the mothers making this book some sort of hybrid YA, Women’s Fiction, and romance all rolled into a paranormal novel.

6) Do you have a special story, a discovery you made while doing research, or an innocuous thought that grew into something bigger that is behind your inspiration for the book?

My approach to this book was always with a young girl in mind. If I could give one piece of advice to a future woman, what would it be? “Never give up your power to a man,” became the mantra for the witches’ stories. I would expand on that to never give up your power to anyone.

7)  Who was your favorite character to write and who gave you the most trouble?

My favorite was Helene. She is the closest to me in every way. The most difficult was her daughter, Ever. I don’t have a teenage daughter so I had to delve back into the memories of my own teenage years to draw from.

8) If you could ask a character of your choice from THE GIFTS OF OUR MOTHERS one question what would it be?

I would ask Gisel, “Why?”or “How could you?”

9) What scene from the book are you most proud of (because of how you handled the atmosphere, characters, dialogue, etc)?

My favorite scene takes place after Ever takes Ike flying and they encounter the Virago and need to ask for help. The conversation that ensues between Ever and her mother about what they’ve each lost is so raw and perfectly depicts the common dynamic between a teenager’s need to explore their freedom while making dangerous and dumb decisions and a mother’s struggle for control.

10) Is there a scene that you had difficulty with and just had to “power through” to finish the book? Or a scene that made you very emotional?

There’s a scene in the third installment, The Sins of Our Fathers (also out now) that I choke up every time I read it. And I’ve read it a lot. These stories are about so many of life’s trials, but at the heart there’s always friendship. The scene in the second novel has all the young witches sharing their decisions on where they’ll go to college and it gets me every time.

11) What are the top five things we should know as a reader before starting THE GIFTS OF OUR MOTHERS? (about the main character, their love interest, the antagonist, their world/home town, their situation, etc)

  • These witches are flawed. I never write perfect heroines. They are much more true to life. Strong, stubborn, loving, loyal, hot-headed, emotional, sometimes rash. There is no prince charming either. In true Eliza Freed spirit, the characters of THE WITCHES OF AUBURN are as perfectly flawed as your best friend or your sister-in-law. These women just happen to have the most enticing magical powers.
  • It’s a story about friendships.
  • The Witches highlights the lasting effects the mistakes of our youth have on the course of the rest of our lives.
  • Karma is queen.
  • The universe never forgets. Buried secrets will always rise again.

12) What is next for you? What are you currently working on?

I’m starting on next year’s witches releases. Kicking it off with Xavier, one of my favorite characters. Other than that I’d like to write an erotic dark comedy as Eliza Freed, but I struggle to find the time. We’ll see. A lot will depend on how the first three books of THE WITCHES OF AUBURN are received.

Hazel Black graduated from Rutgers University and returned to her hometown in rural South Jersey. Her mother encouraged her to take some time and find herself. After three months of searching, she began to bounce checks, her neighbors began to talk, and her mother told her to find a job.

She settled into corporate America, learning systems and practices and the bureaucracy that slows them. Hazel quickly discovered her creativity and gift for story telling as a corporate trainer and spent years perfecting her presentation skills and studying diversity. It was during this time she became an avid observer of the characters she met and the heartaches they endured. Her years of study taught her that laughter, even the completely inappropriate kind, was the key to survival.

She currently lives in New Jersey with her family and a misbehaving beagle named Odin. As an avid swimmer, if Hazel is not with her family and friends, she’d rather be underwater. While she enjoys many genres, she is, and always has been, a sucker for a love story…the more screwed up the better.

Hazel Black writes contemporary romance as Eliza Freed. To keep up with all new releases and giveaways, sign up for her newsletter here.

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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. The author image, info, giveaway, and more were provided by Xpresso Book Tours.

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