Twenty years of living in Wilton made quite the impression on author Dorothy Hayes, who has recently released a second mystery novel with our small town at its core.
Broken Window, named after the controversial policing strategy, is set in New York City in 1984 and focuses on three Wilton High School graduates’ first time in the city alone.
Hayes will discuss her book at Wilton Library on Monday, June 8, from 6 to 7 p.m. The novel was published by Mainly Mystery Press in March.
An author who draws on historical realities for inspiration, the setting of Broken Windows was especially important to Hayes.
“In 1984, New York was a city in crisis,” she said at Wilton Library on Friday morning. “There was an economic decline. There were 10,000 fewer cops on the streets. There were subway muggings [to the point that] the talk show hosts would ask, ‘so, when was the last time you go mugged?’
“That was the city.”
In the novel, three Wilton girls venture into crime-riddled New York City to visit NYU, where one of the girls will be attending college. On the first subway ride of the trip, two of the girls make it off the train, but the last is nowhere to be seen.
“Her parents have no confidence in the NYPD,” so they enlist the help of a Wilton-based investigative reporter and her husband, a detective, the author says.
“They become obsessed,” Hayes says. “They can’t believe what this beautiful, young, innocent girl might be going through.”
Throughout the novel, Hayes keeps social commentary in mind, focusing themes on the tragedies associated with human trafficking, a problem that continues today.
“The hallmark of my books is that they are believable, because they are framed with the social and economic statuses of the day,” she said.
A longtime writer, Hayes was once a staff writer with The Wilton Bulletin and Norwalk Hour newspapers, but novels were always her passion.
“I was always going to be a novelist. That was my goal when I started writing for newspapers,” she said. “I knew an author like Gabriel Garcia Marquez was a newspaper person, so I wanted to learn the craft.”
Even as a young child, she was the dedicated recorder of her and her siblings’ lives.
“When I was a kid, if anything momentous happened, I was the one who had to write it down and tell everybody,” she said, smiling.
Hayes’s previous novel, Murder at the P&Z, also features Wilton as a main driver, and contains some of the same characters.
Though the positive response of her readers is a benefit of writing novels, Hayes says she still enjoys writing for writings sake.
“A good day for me is when I don’t have anything to do but write,” she says. “When the process is to wake up and go right to it, because I’m fresh. It just flows.”
For information about her talk or to register: wiltonlibrary.org, 203-762-3850.