Work in Progress

pan am clipper bestWORK IN PROGRESS:   Runaway Child, a memoir

Runaway Child, set in post-World-War II England and the United States, describes the personal route taken by Mary-Rose Hayes to counter, and eventually set aside, the long term emotional damage of six years of childhood sexual abuse.

It is told in linear fashion from Hayes’ steadily maturing viewpoint (4 years old to the present), interspersed with brief speculative commentaries from Hayes and other voices including that of the abuser.

The language is frank and humorous though at times grimly graphic.

Runaway Child has a wide potential readership, not limited to a previous generation, when a vocabulary for such outrages didn’t even exist. Sexual predation of the young has never gone away, and its victims, young and old, continue mostly to suffer alone in shamed silence. Here, Hayes suggests that, if it could happen to me it could happen to anyone; and, I found a way through the darkness and what worked for me might work for you too.

Runaway Child falls into three main sections, with an Introduction.

Chapters are relatively short with informal headings:

I thought I was the only one.

What’s the big deal, it’s only sex!

She should have known or at least have wondered.

SECTION ONE: What happened:

A personal history as an only child of appallingly mis-matched parents, multiple cross-country moves, new schools, alcoholism and intensifying abuse, culminating in a euphoric runaway/escape to the United States at age 17.

 SECTION TWO: What happened next:

Freedom, safety and professional success tempered by the classic high risk behavior of the oversexualized child (at 19 Hayes lived above a prostitute in a tenement in the East Village and knew all the right people to go wrong with).

Marriage; recognition of problems and unsuccessful attempts to address them, including encounter groups and writing as therapy {“writing is turning one’s worst moments into money” J.P. Donleavy (The Gingerbread Man)}

SECTION THREE: Getting serious:

Acknowledgement of damage done, and addressing the basic question of WHY;

the examination of the times and times of Hayes’ destructive parents, which included a major depression and two world wars; Hayes’ workshop teaching writing skills to women combat veterans struggling with psychic and sexual trauma; Hayes’ deepened awareness of PTSD and how it related to her own family; her personal, unexpected epiphany, and her various conclusions.

Runaway Child is planned for completion in Fall 2016.


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San Miguel Writers’ Conference: a kaleidoscope of color, talent and action.

San Miguel street scene

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Mexican fiesta tequila bottles

The San Miguel Writers’ Conference, Mexico, is the second largest in the world (Maui is #1). So many amazing events, so much going on at once, so much to see and hear, how to choose?—it’s overwhelming in every sense. How the volunteer crew shepherd 900 people workshops, excursions, meals, book signings and sold out speaking events, much of the time in the rain, is anybody’s guess. How they can organize such terrific parties, also in the rain, ditto. A month or so is needed to digest the  kaleidoscope of impressions. My particular highlights in no particular order: Cuban American writer and poet Richard Blanco, whose knockout warm, witty speech had everyone on their feet. My wonderful hostess, her hospitality, breakfasts of huevos and exotic fruit in her art and animal-filled home in the Centro from which I’d hike through the park each morning to the Hotel Mina (under construction but the tangle of workers and materials seemed part of it somehow). The participants in my overfilled two classes (DON’T BE AFRAID OF DIALOGUE), all so bright and attentive with great questions.  My lunchtime reading from my new book, tentatively titled THE RUNAWAY CHILD, was a success even though held in a tent with cheerful lawn picnics yards away. The grand fiesta with unlimited supplies of food and tequila; giant puppets; ballet folklorico; music; mariachis; feathered, stamping Aztec dancers, and on and on and who cared about the rain anyway. And always the colonial magic of San Miguel with its colors, cobbles, bells, tempting restaurants and delicious shopping: I bought an elegant lady skeleton (a catrina) wearing a spangled purple dress and garden party hat. And then: meeting old friends and making new connections; shmoozes and hideaway dinners in dark places; and at the very end, rounding out the whole experience in the airport security line, a casual chat with keynote Gloria Steinem while we took off our boots.


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