Mount Vernon: Local Author Pens Second Novel

Mount Vernon: Local Author Pens Second Novel

Stephen D. Hayes writes “Missing Letters.”

Longtime Belle Haven resident Stephen D. Hayes’ latest novel “Missing Letters” involves dealing with loss. The main character, Traveler McGale, is haunted by the losses in his past while facing the potential loss of his family when his 17-year-old son who is addicted to drugs runs away from his boarding school. “It focus on one man’s journey in dealing a variety of losses throughout his life and how it shapes his perspective,” Hayes said.

He hopes that readers will come to realize that “in spite of the losses and troubles in life, we are often blessed with the grace of God even in times when we don’t know it.”

As with many authors, Hayes’ inspiration for the novel stems from his experiences dealing with personal loss and family members who have had addiction issues.

“Even though I have fictionalized the main character in many ways. I identify with the main character largely. His emotional outlook on life and his fears are very similar to mine,” he said.

During the writing process, Hayes faced many of the same challenges and fears as other writers, such as dealing with his own procrastination when it came to writing and going through several re-writes to ensure that his work was good enough. His advice to first time authors is to “read everything they can get their hands on” and write a lot in the beginning without worrying so much about quality.

“Missing Letters” was released in July. It is the author’s second novel.

While his first novel “Light in Darkness” focused on the Vietnam War, “Missing Letters” takes a more intimate look at the obstacles of overcoming various losses in life and how the issues of addiction and loss can affect a family’s dynamics.

“Like with the first book, writing this book was also therapeutic for me because it allowed me to put down on paper some issues from my own life that I have wrestled with overtime,” Hayes said.

There will be a few upcoming book events in the area during the fall.

When he is not spending time writing, Hayes enjoys going out on the golf course and sailing on the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay. In addition, he also enjoying the various parks and natural landscapes of Northern Virginia including the parkland near the George Washington Parkway around Mount Vernon, Potomac River and Old Town Alexandria.

Hayes and his wife Barbara have lived in Belle Haven for over 40 years. After graduating college, he served for four years in the U.S. Navy before settling in Washington D.C.

He has a B.A. from Dartmouth College, and a M.A. from Georgetown University. Besides his career in the federal government, he also worked in the private sector as the vice president of public affairs for the Air Transport Association and a managing director of public affairs for the American Automobile Association.

“Missing Letters” is available through and