Mary-Rose Hayes’ writing life has been unorthodox and unrelated to any academic path.
She was raised in a bohemian English family, attended at least seven schools, dropped out of college aged 17, ran away to America, and has supported herself ever since.
She had no plans to be a writer, although she wrote her first book when she was six, ten pages long and self-illustrated, called “A Day in the Life of Prince the Carthorse.”
Mary-Rose has lived and worked in London, Boston, Arizona, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Tripoli, Northern Ireland and San Francisco. Her jobs have included medical research assistant, fashion model, librarian, television production assistant, copy-writer, deckhand and free-lance book editor.
She has sailed a 41-ft sailboat 5,000 miles from southern Spain to Brazil, and met her husband while riding horseback in the Libyan desert.
At 33, married with two small children, Mary-Rose finally decided it was time for a real career. With no formal qualifications or training, she began by listing what she couldn’t do which included doctor, lawyer, architect, engineer, astrophysicist, ballerina, concert pianist and opera singer. She was forced to admit she knew a little about quite a lot but was expert in nothing— though if the University of Life awarded degrees she reckoned she deserved a doctorate.
She’d seen and done so much, in so many different places.
She’d known surgeons, actors, farmers, musicians, teachers, sailors, artists, cowboys, a prostitute and a couple of Hells’ Angels. She’d lived through a war, married, suffered losses and given birth twice.
In fact, she had the perfect resume for a writer.
Mary-Rose had always enjoyed telling stories, was able to work at home where all she needed was paper and a typewriter, and had three clear mornings in which to write while her daughter went to nursery school and the baby took a nap.
She sought the advice of a successful novelist friend in San Francisco whose two pieces of advice she observes and values to this day:
Keep your butt in your chair! he said and, find the story!
Mary-Rose continues to find inspiration and renewal through travel in wild places.
South America has fascinated her since reading ‘The Lost World’ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. She has climbed Mt. Roraima, Venezuela, where the grand Jurassic adventure took place, and recently returned from an Earthwatch expedition to the Amazon where she lived on a 100-year-old riverboat built for an Iquitos rubber baron.
She enjoys riding to remote destinations on third class buses, and sailing out of sight of land.
Mary-Rose also enjoys choral singing, movies, hiking and painting.
She is married with two children and six grandchildren, and lives in Northern California.
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