BY R. SCOTT BELZER
Staff writer Sentinel-Echo, London, Kentucky
London residents and Laurel Countians have a lot they can be proud of – fl owing green fields, beautiful lakes, a superb school system and excellent adventure tourism.
While most of these are nature or institution oriented, Charles E. Hayes is living proof that a considerable amount of talent is also available in southeast Kentucky.
Hayes is the author of the newly published book “Out of the Jungle,” which follows the life of a GI deployed to southeast Asia in the mid ’70s and how it affects his life for the next quarter century. Hayes claims it’s an interpretation of post traumatic stress disorder, a phenomena more commonly known as PTSD.
“In essence, he (the character) takes part of the jungle home with him,” Hayes said. “In his subconscious and his psyche. I try to show PTSD without calling it that.”
Hayes explained how the condition affects the soldier's relationships through a hyper vigilant attitude. Hayes wants to show the reader what his protagonist is going through rather than directly label him as suffering from PTSD.
Hayes himself served in the United States Air Force for 24 years from 1972 to 1996, where he retired with the rank of master sergeant. In his military career, he has seen sights throughout southeast Asia, the middle east, as well as England and Germany.
Still, Hayes is adamant that “Out of the Jungle” is entirely fiction. He’s quick to point out how the best stories ever written are often a hybrid of falseness and truth. “The novel is 100 percent fiction – my wife will attest to that,” Hayes said. “That being said, I think every pound of good fiction has an ounce of truth in it.”
Hayes went on to explain how the overall process of writing the book was thoroughly enjoyable. Most of the book was ready to be shipped off to a publisher 10 years ago, but he never really followed through.
“For whatever reason, I put it off, but decided it wasn’t going to do anyone any good on a hard drive – it needed some air,” Hayes said. “The darkness comes, the sun rises, and books need to be seen.”
Along with the military, Hayes’ passion has always been writing. He’s been perfecting his craft since his days in elementary school.
“I’ve been writing since I was in the fourth grade,” Hayes said. “I wrote a lot of things – a few magazine articles, several Internet articles, news articles.
I’ve always written.” The London author has three unfinished novels also stored on his computer. One, titled “Mountain Odyssey,” is a volume of regional poetry that spotlights the people of southeastern Kentucky as well as the circumstances they often find themselves in. Another is titled “The Sword of Gideon,” which is also based in eastern Kentucky.
“It mentions several geographical and physical aspects of Laurel and surrounding counties,” Hayes said.
Hayes admits the third is the volume giving him the most trouble. Based on the early Kentucky frontier, it’s an historical fiction novel that attempts to be fully accurate to the time and place of which it describes.
Hayes – who also performs in reenactments throughout the region as a hobby – is becoming more and more committed to getting the details right.
“Let’s face it, up until Kentucky actually became a state, just living here could be an adventure,” Hayes said. “Again, this has a lot of Laurel County in it. These are things the youth should be taught in this area and that everyone should know about – I want to make sure I get it right.”
Article by SBELZER@SENTINEL-ECHO.COM
The Sentinel-Echo I www.sentinel-echo.com
MONDAY, MARCH 31, 2014 I 9