A Conversation with Shay Hazelwood

In the realm of literature and art, there are creators whose works leave an indelible mark on the audience, sparking conversations and inspiring minds. One such luminary is Shay Hazelwood, the accomplished author behind the intriguing novel “POISON”.

Hello Shay Hazelwood, welcome to BlackbirdNews! What inspired your writing in 4th grade, and can you share the story of winning your first school contest? How does your diverse background shape your work?
I started writing in the 4th grade, well thats when i thought i might have something anyway. I won a school contest and it was my first affirmation. I am from everywhere and nowhere and I hope you will take the time to check out my book!

Can you briefly overview your memoir, POISON, and what inspired you to write it? 
I suspected that I was being poisoned and I started to dig into my own life to try to figure out what happened to me. The conclusions that I’ve been able to draw are that someone did poison me, but I didn’t just come to that conclusion overnight. It was months and months of heavy research into Facebook messages. Into medical records. Into phone records. Google search history.

I found when I was collecting my research to alert authorities with a properly researched suspicious incident report that I had enough material for a very interesting book. There’s so much information the book must be broken up into parts because the details connect so intricately. It would be easy to overlook and miss multiple things.

So, book one is what is currently published. And that book starts at the beginning of my mysterious illness. And it goes to about 2016 New Year’s Eve, so it covers about. seven or eight years of lifespan.

Within those seven or eight years, it covers the medical records that track the pattern of the illness. It divulges the conversations that I am having with my friends, and this needed to be put in the book because I needed to sort of set the scene of where my mind was, why I didn’t realize I was being poisoned, and what kind of person I am.

I was gaslit and emotionally assaulted/severely psychologically abused, and I needed to protect myself from that weapon I decided going public was my safest option, because the more people know about me the harder it is to tell things that aren’t true about me and to isolate me in those lies., further endangering my life.

Emotions play a significant role in your memoir. How did you navigate and express your emotions throughout the writing process, especially when revisiting past experiences? 
I Navigate my emotions by allowing myself to feel whatever it is that I feel. I stopped a long time ago suppressing or boxing up my emotions that not every emotion is comfortable. I guess it doesn’t bother me if I have a day where I’m just not exactly comfortable in my skin, I think it’s normal. The saying the only way out is through is one of my mantras.

How does creativity and art contribute to the enchanting atmosphere of your memoir, and what role does it play in your life?  
The memoir is brought to life by various means of meaningful communication. Often in the hardest moments of my life art was my best outlet. Music in particular but writing is neck and neck with it. These things to me are like a pressure valve that allows me to accept any state of being no matter how uncomfortable that state might be.

The title is intriguing. Could you elaborate on the significance of the title and how it encapsulates the essence of your memoir?  
It is named in essence of my daughter, my daughter has brought so much meaning to my life.

Memoirs often involve a journey of self-discovery. How has the process of writing this memoir impacted your own personal growth and understanding of yourself? 
I’ve honestly had the pleasure of finding so many smiles in my past. Those flash-bulb memories tend to overpower many happy moments. I’ve been searching for myself my whole life, I don’t know if I will ever really find her. One thing I have learned though is growth hurts, no matter how you dice it. Even if it’s good and growth usually is, it simply hurts. So, I look at it like I’m getting my eyebrows waxed. Caution: Prepare for brief discomfort now, haha.

POISON: Series 3 Set 1

I remember bringing Ell home from the hospital…

We had a small couch, and we were trying to change her diaper…

and then she peed on us…

I remember looking at him…

And I remember thinking….

We must both be thinking the same thing…

I hope you know what you’re doing…

And that’s the perfect example of the mirror. Every expression was mine staring back at me. I married a monster, and he wore my personality as his suit.


Can you share a specific moment or chapter from the memoir that you consider particularly enchanting or magical, where emotions and creativity beautifully converged?  
Themes of Resilience: TITLE: Couch Surfer

Luna had decided to stop attending school and had taken up a job at a local gas station. She finds the job enjoyable and engaging, involving things like managing stock and operating the cash register, sometimes working late into the early hours of the morning. One night, while working, at around 2:00 in the morning, Wave enters the gas station. Luna greets him “Hi Wave!”.

“Hey, Luna”. During their discussion, Wave seemed concerned for Luna and inquired about her living arrangements. Luna tells him that she has been staying on couches for some time. Wave offers her to stay on his couch. Luna eagerly agreed to the arrangement. Wave said “I’ll pick you up after your shift ends”, and Luna confirmed.

Luna shuts down the entire shop and she pays for herself to have a beer, and she meets Wave out front, just as promised. They had been watching TV for a while and Wave asked Luna, “So, you aren’t staying with your parents?”

“No,” said Luna “They told me I couldn’t stay there anymore.”

“So, Luna, you’re homeless?” asks Wave.

“No. I usually can find a place to stay. Not homeless.” Said Luna.

“So, you have a home you go to every night, Luna?”

“No. But I’ve never had to sleep outside,” said Luna.

“So, you’re homeless.” Proclaimed Wave

“Look Luna, just stay with me for a while? I won’t charge you rent. You can stay as long as you need.” Said Wave.

“Really?” Asks Luna

“Really.” Said Wave.

A few weeks pass and Wave brings home another stray. His name? Jimbo. Wave had two separate living rooms, so Luna had one living room and Jimbo had the other. Luna had been at Waves for a few weeks and was starting to feel comfortable enough that could call it home. even if she thought it was temporary, it was home for a moment.

Evan showed up.

“Luna. Did you break my bottle of tequila?” asks Evan

Luna says “No. I didn’t break it.”

“Luna, you didn’t break into the house on the weekend I was gone and break my bottle of tequila, stuff a box of cats in my closet, and steal my CD?” asks Evan.

“No, I didn’t,” said Luna scared.

“OK, what about my CD?” asks Evan.

“What CD?” asks Luna.

“The one that came in the mail; The one that I got charged for. Do you have that?” asks Evan

“No,” said Luna, red-rimmed eyes shining with tears.

“You don’t have that either, huh? No, not at all, Luna, I have to pay for that CD. If you don’t have it. That’s cool, but if you do have it, give it to me because I gotta send it back.” says Evan.

Luna says “OK”, and she goes and gets the CD and gives it to him.

“Luna, did you know I had to pay for this?” asks Evan.

Luna says, “I guess… I kind of. I don’t know.”

“Do you realize you stole from me?” he asks

“Luna, are you even in school?” Evan asks.

“No, I quit,” said Luna

“You quit school?” he asks

“Yeah” whispers Luna.

“You need to get your GED then, OK? I’ll pick you up; We’ll go on Thursday to find out what you need to do. OK?” asked Evan.

“Evan?” said Luna.

“What Luna?” he asked.

“Sorry about your bottle of tequila,” she said

“It’s OK, Luna. I get it.” Evan said. He hugged Luna and walked off. Luna went to her couch and laid down.

Luna awoke to the sound of a party going on in the other living room. Seems like they came home after the bar and brought friends. Luna sees Wave talking to some girl and is hit with an emotion other than rage. …Jealousy.

Many memoirs explore themes of resilience. How does your journey in reflect resilience, and what lessons do you hope readers take away from your experiences?  
Connecting with Readers: I hope that they will take away hope and an understanding that very painful moments often change shape later in life and no matter how bad things feel at the moment, eventually the gift of perspective will be delivered.

What do you hope readers will gain or feel after reading; POISON? How do you envision your memoir resonating with a diverse audience?  
Future Projects: The book is a series of short stories and may feel like a roller coaster ride, but I decided not to censor the story in any way. I hope to reflect authenticity and honesty. Some books build the story and may leave a feeling of incompleteness, and that is purposeful because through the eyes of the memory, I didn’t have answers either, and so they come in a different short story (answers), just like life.

Are there any upcoming projects or creative endeavors that you would like to share with your readers?  
Yes! Series 2 Set 1 releases March 1st, Poison II releases June 1st, and the 1st part of the Fiction Project: THE LINEVILLE HORROR, which releases this fall.

For more information, visit the author’s website: lunarainarts.com