We are pleased to have author Lesley Hayes visiting with us today as part of our Celebration of Authors, Readers & Books – 2017. Let’s get started with the guest post, below:
When anyone comes through my front door the first thing they are likely to see on the wall is a sign saying: ‘Careful, or you’ll end up in my novel.’ I have a confession to make – it’s not simply a joke, it’s true. Friends who read my novels and short stories are always hoping (and more likely, dreading) they will recognize themselves. I must admit I have, at times, sailed perilously close to the wind in my depiction of a particular character. (Disclaimer for anyone who knows me – I promise, it isn’t you.) The fact is that as a writer you are constantly gathering material, consciously or unconsciously. I have fearlessly plundered the heights and depths of my own life experience and translated them into narratives that have universal resonance. On occasion I have pick-pocketed other people’s experiences, but by the time I’ve grafted them on to several others and airbrushed anything personal out of them it feels like less of a crime and more of a service for the greater good. Only once, many years ago, did I lose a friend over a description of their character in a novel that was too near to the bone for comfort. Perhaps if it had been more flattering it would have been forgiven, but I simply couldn’t resist penning a portrait of them that showed a truth they couldn’t bear to face. There was no malice in it. I temporarily chose authenticity over respectful tact. Unfortunately, once committed to the page, the words take on their own authority, and it’s easy to forget what or who inspired them in the first place. We writers can seem coldly calculating in the way we observe and commit to the page dialogue and personality tics that catch our imagination. But we can’t help it. Part of my mind is a permanent recording device whirring away when I’m sitting on the bus or in a café, intrigued by snippets of a life revealed in conversations that tell a whole unspoken story about the person talking. We tell each other stories all the time, and it’s the job of the writer to distill the essence of these into fiction that reminds us of the poignant, sweet, fallible search we all make to find love, to wreak vengeance on those who have wronged us, and to maintain a sense of being absolutely right in our opinions most of the time. I’ve been blessed with a life full of eventful subject matter, not all of it easy to live through however much it’s been grist to the mill, and peopled with memorable characters who, one way or another, have left their mark on me. Writing has so often been a way of making sense of my experience, of using the alchemy of dramatization to explain motivation and witness the inevitability of cause and effect. I have been fascinated by the quirky changeability in relationships for as long as I can remember. My family as I was growing up provided all the drama I needed to develop a writer’s eye. I observed how friends could become enemies on the whim of a misjudged word, and an established enemy could transform into a friend through the unexpected shift of a well-timed allegiance. What makes us so fickle? What breaks our heart or miraculously mends it? I can’t resist the pull of these questions. I write stories that reflect this fascination and dig into the substrata of events, looking for psychological drives that erupt into situations that provide dilemmas for the characters involved. I guess at heart I’m still the child wondering why about so many things, and what will happen next? And in the absence of clear explanations, inventing my own.
Author Bio: Lesley Hayes was born in Deptford, in South East London, in 1948. Her first story was published when she won a literary competition at the age of 13. Between 1966 and 1992 she was regularly and prolifically published in literary and women’s magazines, writing stories, serials and articles, and in 1986 had a novel published called ‘Keeping Secrets’. For the following two years she had a weekly slot on BBC Radio Oxford reading her short stories, and in 1999 a collection of linked stories called ‘Oxford Marmalade’ was brought out on audiotape, read by the actress Susanna Dawson. Her son and daughter, born respectively in 1969 and 1971, helped her throughout these years to keep her feet on the ground and her sense of humour alive and well and occasionally kicking. In 1990 she came to the conclusion that continuing to write about the fascinating vagaries of the human condition just wouldn’t be enough, and for the next four years she trained to become a psychotherapist. Her successful career as a psychotherapist over the ensuing years took her away from fiction writing, but brought quite different rewards. It was a fork in the road she never once regretted taking, and she was aware of using many of same creative skills and insights. In 2010 the compelling urge to write fiction again emerged, and in the years since then she has self-published five novels and five short story collections via Amazon on kindle and in paperback, embracing the online world through Facebook and Twitter, where she has met a number of talented and inspiring fellow indie authors. She lives in Oxford, where she draws much of her inspiration for her writing.
List of published works:
Keeping Secrets by Lesley Hayes – Literary Fiction – (Hardback and Paperback) September 4th 1986
The Drowned Phoenician Sailor by Lesley Hayes – Literary Fiction – May 22nd 2013
A Field Beyond Time by Lesley Hayes – Literary Fiction – May 2nd 2014
Round Robin by Lesley Hayes – Literary Fiction – January 7th 2015
Dangerous People by Lesley Hayes – Literary Fiction – October 14th 2015
The Other Twin by Lesley Hayes – Literary Fiction – August 14th 2016
Not Like Other People by Lesley Hayes – Short Stories – January 5th 2014
Without a Safety Net by Lesley Hayes – Short Stories – April 17th 2014
The Oscar Dossier by Lesley Hayes – Short Stories – May 3rd 2014
Oxford Marmalade by Lesley Hayes – Short Stories – October 10th 2014
Through a Glass Darkly by Lesley Hayes – Short Stories (Paperback) – September 9th 2015
Awards: The Drowned Phoenician Sailor – Reader’s Choice Award: Gold Prize – Connections Magazine August 2017
Find out more about the author and their work by visiting their website.
Thanks so much for joining us today. 🙂 Make sure you check out our main events page so you don’t miss out on other author interviews, guest authors, contests, giveaways and more!