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#197 A. Jarrell Hayes: Words=Life

A. Jarrell Hayes grew up in Columbia, MD, the youngest of 4 kids. He usually stayed off by himself and played with his X-Men action figures. By 8, A. Jarrell started writing fantasy fiction and loved making choose-your-own-adventure books. He usually made them so that every choice made something bad happen, which was a reflection of the difficult things he was going through at the time. He was often anti-authority, rebellious, and got in a lot of fights. He got kicked out of numerous schools. When he was 12, A. Jarrell’s parents couldn’t handle him anymore and committed him to an adolescent residential treatment facility. A. Jarrell felt abandoned. Eventually, he was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, which means he has to deal with the mania and depression of bipolar along with the hallucinations and paranoia and delusions of schizophrenia. The facility was really terrible and the treatments didn’t help at all. At 14, A. Jarrell was released from the treatment facility and willed himself to be healthy. He now takes full responsibility for not keeping himself in order back then. Unfortunately, the experience caused A. Jarrell to erect a wall between himself and his family (actually, people in general) that cannot be undone. Only other residents and those that have been incarcerated can fully understand what happened during his time there. In high school, A. Jarrell was the best mascot (the Scorpion) and classes were easy for him. In college, he has studied English. Over the years, A. Jarrell has worked a bunch of different jobs—including shoe salesman, credit card representative, and pharmacy clerk—which was just him searching for his place. He enjoys freelance blogging, but wishes it paid more. Once, on a train from Baltimore to Seattle, a woman accused him of being a private detective (he was wearing a trench coat and had a camera)—asking who sent him and how long he had been following her. At the end of the trip, she apologized for her behavior. Now A. Jarrell continues to write poetry and fantasy fiction. He writes poetry as a way to channel the somewhat disturbing and frightening images in his mind. He writes fantasy fiction because he couldn't find any with Black characters. There are orcs and trolls and elves and all sorts of fanciful creatures, but no Black people. A. Jarrell still has to deal with schizoaffective disorder, but the imagination that comes with the disorder helps when he’s writing fantasy fiction. He has always had a vivid imagination and trouble separating from reality. So far, A. Jarrell has published 6 books – 3 fantasy novels and 3 collections of poetry –and he will publish more. Eventually, he will finish up college and then maybe he would like to teach English in Japan.

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