Karen Hayes writes in several genres. . . fiction, non-fiction, essay, memoir, and one she calls ‘dark-and-whimsical.’ She has taken herself seriously as a writer only after returning to college at age thirty-five. Majoring in English Literature at Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida, she graduated with High Distinction, Honors in English, the college’s Howard Fox Literary Prize, and the W.A. Constable Award for Elizabethan Study. As an editor for the college’s literary journal Brushing, she shared in Columbia University’s award for excellence in college editing and publishing.
A short story published in Boys’ Life was later reprinted in a reading textbook by Laidlaw Brothers. Another appeared in Accent on Youth, and a feature travel article appeared in The Orlando Sentinel newspaper.
Karen considered graduate school in Creative Writing. “But I didn’t want to focus on an academic approach to writing. Instead,” she says, “I remarried into a fifteen-year adventure of living in extremely rural Arizona . . . gorgeous mountains, havelinas, rattlesnakes, mountain lions, and a 126 mile round-trip to the nearest supermarket.”
She and her husband traveled extensively. She continued to write and won the 1991 C.L. Sonnichsen Award for Non-Fiction Western Literature from Texas Western Press (University of Texas, El Paso). More essays and poetry appeared in small literary publications. She co-authored Biodiversity Versus Mining – A Collision of Priorities in Cave Creek Canyon (USDA Forest Service General Technical Report: Biodiversity and Management of the Madrean Archipelago: The Sky Islands of Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico).
During her years in Arizona, she edited historical and biological monographs, as well as regional small literary publications.
◾Active for many years in photography, she was co-founder of a successful cooperative art gallery where she sold black & white and color photographs produced in her own darkroom.
Her interest in photography waned, but her love of writing did not. In addition to short stories, essays, poems, a completed novel for girls set in rural Florida, and a memoir (in-progress), she is currently collaborating on a middle-grade work of ‘quirky episodic fiction’ that she and her writing partner jokingly call ‘Lake Wobegon meets Portlandia, but for kids.’ Its real title is The Whinot World of Sophie Bottoms.
Now in Salt Lake City, Utah, Karen has lived in many parts of the U.S. and traveled in Mexico, Asia, South America, East Africa, Egypt, southern Algeria, and Europe. Drawing from it all, she says, “Writing is fun and serious effort. I love editing my own work (and when asked, I enjoy editing the work of others). It’s exciting to see where a piece can go. It’s all delicious. And because words and people are endlessly interesting, peculiar, and enriching, that’s what I try to put into my writing, too. ”
Her most recent publication is an excerpt from her memoir True Places, appearing in Kippis! a literary journal.