I live in South Carolina, in a little house full of books and photographs. I’ve been telling stories since I was about four, when I first realized that it was a great way to become the center of attention. My first written work was a very short story entitled “Silly Mouse,” with spelling assistance from my father.
I’ve worked at many different careers over the years, always with the idea of writing my stories down “someday.” I’ve been a short order chef and a waitress, a janitor, a park naturalist and guide, a teacher, a lab assistant, and a pharmacist. I have to admit a lingering fondness for the naturalist position, even though the low pay eventually led to my looking for another career. I enjoy teaching people who actually want to learn something, and I loved living in the park and walking to work along the beach.
I’ve lived in South Carolina all of my life, both in the Upstate near the mountains and in the Lowcountry on the coast. Part of the reason that I live here is the fact that I have a tough time choosing between the mountains and the ocean, and this is a state where both are within a day’s drive of one another. I also love the “green, green hills,” as a Navajo artist once described my home state.
The first time I wrote seriously was in high school, where I entered a local poetry contest and won third place. As a science nerd, though, I concentrated my studies in that field and thought of writing as just a hobby. Over the years, I kept telling stories, and people kept paying attention to me.
My favorite stories have always been adventures set in exotic locations. I grew up in foreign lands and far shores. Tarzan and John Carter taught me to live an honorable life. Heidi and Dorothy taught me that there’s no place like home. Zorro sparked in me a love of other languages – I know exactly what to say if you sneeze, in ten different languages. I traveled the stars with Andre Norton, Robert Heinlein, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Anne MacCaffrey. I explored the Wild West with Louis L’Amour and the backstreets of Victorian London with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
I also love a good mystery, and will read almost anything in that genre. Next to Doyle’s Holmes, I must admit that Robert B. Parker’s Spenser is my favorite detective. I love Parker’s characterizations and dialogue. A good exotic setting is just as much fun in a mystery as it is in an adventure tale – and often, the two can be combined into one great novel. I’ve enjoyed my visits to Dana Stabenow’s Alaska, Tony Hillerman’s Navajo reservation, Craig Johnson’s Wyoming, Nevada Barr’s national parks, and J.D. Robb’s futuristic New York City (and yes, I have even read a few of the works by her other self, Nora Roberts).
When I’m not writing – which is rare, as I nearly always have an iPad, laptop, or even pen and journal with me – I enjoy nearly anything having to do with nature. My best friend has accused me of gluing my camera to one hand. I do love the challenge of lining up just the right shot, and one day, will actually see about trying to sell some of those photos (or at least to see if they’re really as good as they seem to me).
I’m particularly drawn to water. I love long walks on the beach, especially if I have a friend to talk to. I’d rather track down the source of a rivulet, though, than walk along a nature trail – and I’ll probably use up an entire memory card taking photographs along the way to that spring. I know the basics of sailing, and would love to take a sailing cruise, in a ship small enough for you to feel the waves beneath her. I love to swim whenever I get the chance, especially in the ocean, and am a certified SCUBA diver, although I don’t get nearly as much time in the water as I’d like (it’s that writing thing again). When it comes to making a choice between living in the world inside my head and living in the real one outside, I’m afraid that my own world wins out most of the time.
I’ve written almost every sort of story except horror. I have far too active an imagination to enjoy that genre – I still get chills when I see a bathtub with the curtains drawn, thanks to that Stephen King novel a friend convinced me to read in college. I’ve dabbled in all of the other genres, though: nonfiction, science fiction, fan fiction, mystery, erotica, and even a little romance. My favorites remain adventure and mystery stories, which explains the Devon Day and the Sweetwater Kid universe.
My current life is spent trying to balance writing with the day job that supports my addiction. And it does seem much like an addiction sometimes. Even at work, my mind strays to a possible line of dialogue, or a new plot complication. My job includes long hours and a variable schedule, so some days it’s all I can do to squeeze in thirty minutes of writing before work. On my days off, I usually try to get in six to eight hours of what I consider my real work. I may not be working on the novel the entire time, but I’ll be doing something with the J.E.S. Hays brand – blogging, working on the website, researching, or maybe adding some interesting photos to the Pinterest boards. I will admit that WikiAnswers does take up a few minutes of my day; I have to limit my love of teaching on that front.
My goals for my writing career are to become good enough to support myself, at least so that I can cut back on my hours at work. I’d love to have another day off for writing. I’d love to travel more, also – it’d be fantastic if I landed a book tour sometime. If I ever win the lottery, I’ll probably buy another little house, somewhere exotic like Ireland or even the American Southwest, where I could research the Old West from the source. I could commute back and forth between two lovely locations, writing all the way.
I love comments from my readers, and do my best to reply, whether you email me, comment on the blog or Facebook, or even use the post office. My goal is to entertain and educate, and I hope you feel I’m doing a good job at both.
Other Blogs by or about J.E.S. Hays:
- Western Fictioneers: Them’s Fighting Words
- Western Fictioneers: Them’s Fighting Words II
- Western Fictioneers: Them’s Fighting Words III
- Western Fictioneers: Horse Basics
- Western Fictioneers: Horse Types Part 1
- Quivering Pen: Second Best Hat in the Room
- Writers of the West Interview
- Western Fictioneers: Lace Your Tree Up Part 1
- Western Fictioneers: Lace Your Tree Up Part 2
- Western Fictioneers: Horse Jewelry
- SC Writer’s Workshop: Writing And Other Disasters
- Western Fictioneers: Back in the Saddle Again Part 1
- Answers.com: Naming Your Characters
- Answers.com: Coming Up With Ideas
- Western Fictioneers: Back in the Saddle Again Part 2
- Answers.com: Myths About Writing Dialogue
- Answers.com: Creating Believable Dialogue
- Answers.com: Working Through Writer’s Block
- Western Fictioneers: Shooting Irons Part 1
- Answers.com: Point of View
- Western Fictioneers: Shooting Irons Part 2
- Answers.com: Finding Your Writer’s Voice
- Answers.com: Writing Basics – Plot
- Answers.com: Writing Basics – Setting
- Answers.com: Writing Basics – Conflict
- Answers.com: Writing Basics: Theme
- Western Fictioneers: Shooting Irons Part 3
- Answers.com: Writing Basics: Style
- Western Fictioneers: Horse Types Part 2
- Western Fictioneers: Just for Fun Part 1
- Western Fictioneers: Just for Fun Part 2
- Western Fictioneers: Whooping It Up: Gambling
- Western Fictioneers: Whooping It Up: Monte
- Western Fictioneers: Whooping it Up: Poker
- Western Fictioneers: Cowboy History
- Western Fictioneers: Social Media 101 (part 1)
- Western Fictioneers: Social Media 101 (part 2)
- Western Fictioneers: Cattle Drives
- Western Fictioneers: Cost of Living 1
- Western Fictioneers: Cost of Living 2
- Western Fictioneers: Coughs & Colds in the Old West
- Western Fictioneers: Pain in the Old West
- Western Fictioneers: Time for a Tonic
- Answers.com: 10 Steps to a Travel Article
- Answers.com: 5 Sure-Fire Story Ideas
- Answers.com: Editing 101
- Answers.com: Critique 101
- Answers.com: How to Title Your Story
- Answers.com: Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Characters
- Answers.com: Mindful Writing
- Western Fictioneers: Old West Patent Medicine
- Western Fictioneers: Cooking in the Old West