Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Last Dreamgirl

Today's special guest is Shane Hayes. A native Philadelphian, Shane earned his bachelor’s and his law degree from Villanova University, and studied for a year at Princeton Theological Seminary. He worked as a writer/editor for Prentice Hall and an attorney for the federal government. He is married, has four children, and lives in suburban Philadelphia. His nonfiction book The End of Unbelief: A New Approach to the Question of God was released by Leafwood Publishers in the fall of 2014.

Two young men meet on ship when both are recently out of college. They share a flaming ambition. Each aims to write novels that will be internationally acclaimed and win him a place in American letters. One of them, Paul Theroux, achieves the dream in all its glory: becomes world famous, writes over 40 books, and three of his novels are made into films. The other, Shane Hayes, fails completely, but keeps tenaciously writing, decade after decade, plowing on through hundreds of rejections. Then almost half a century later, Shane contacts Paul, who remembers him, reads three of his books, likes them, and praises them with endorsements.

In writing to agents and publishers Shane could now say, “Query for a novel praised by Paul Theroux.” No one offers a book deal because of an endorsement, so rejections keep coming. But more people let him send at least a sample and are predisposed to see merit in it. At his age, time is crucial. In the month he turns 75, Shane receives contracts on two of his books from different publishers. He will always be grateful to the literary giant who remembered ten days of friendship half-a-lifetime after it ended.


For every man there’s a girl who grips his imagination and his heart as no other girl ever did or will. She may be in her teens or a mature woman. He responds to her as a boy to a girl. Whether she comes early in his life or late, there is a throne in his subconscious that she takes possession of, without trying, often without wanting to.The image he forms of her reigns there in perpetuity, even if she has left his life, or this life. Her enchantment never fades or fails, and he is never immune to it. She may not be for him the last wife or paramour, but she is the last dreamgirl.


Traffic was light enough that Ron could pull out and follow Bower, a car or two behind. Bower drove to a local Acme supermarket, parked, grabbed a pushcart, and went in to shop.

Ron did the same. While he avoided trailing Bower through the aisles he effectively followed him by going down aisles that Bower was coming up, and sometimes pausing near Bower to search for products on one side of the aisle while Bower was scanning the shelves on the other side. Viewing the man’s features at close range Ron had no doubt that this was the Vulture. Ron got so close to him in the drug and cosmetics aisle that he made two notable observations. First, from a sharp side angle Bower’s deformed eye-placement could be seen under his dark glasses. Second, he was working from two shopping lists—which seemed to be in different handwriting. At a glance Ron perceived one as a small neat feminine hand, written in blue ink, and the other as a larger, though equally neat, hand—probably masculine—in pencil.

Ron’s heart leaped at the thought that the penned shopping list had been written by Sandra Moore. But he knew how much he wanted to find evidence of her being alive in Bower’s house and feared he might have seen what he wanted to see. Seconds after the observation, when he had moved down the aisle, he began to question it.

The fact that both lists were so neatly written made him doubt that they were done by different hands. The pencil versus ink could have created that illusion; and sometimes one’s mood and the size of the paper can prompt one to write smaller than usual....

Ron’s doubts about handwriting were resolved when he made his next pass of Bower’s cart near the feminine hygiene shelves and saw in it a box of women’s sanitary napkins. Why in God’s name would Bower be buying Kotex if he lived alone? There had to be a woman there and a menstruating woman at that. Ron couldn’t check but would be willing to bet that the Kotex had been written on the blue-ink shopping list in what had first struck him as a feminine hand. It was a feminine hand, and he would lay odds that it was Sandra’s.

Ron got right behind Bower in the checkout line and noticed that he had also bought a woman’s scented bath powder, a feminine underarm deodorant, and a supply of hairpins. Ron had to resist an impulse to cry out in joy and triumph. None of the female items were things a young man would bring to a girl he was dating. None was the equivalent of a bouquet, a box of candy, or a bottle of perfume. These were things a man would typically pick up for his wife or mistress, a woman he was living with. Or a girl he held captive.



Shane Hayes will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Mai T. said...

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

p.m.terrell said...

Thank you for joining us here today, Shane. I really enjoyed your book, and the characters were so complex and multi-dimensional that they remained with me long after I finished reading it. Best of luck with your book tour.

Shane Hayes said...

Thanks, Ms. Terrell, for hosting The Last Dreamgirl on Book 'Em North Carolina. I'm Shane Hayes, the author. This newspaper review just appeared; it will give your blog visitors a quick perspective on the book:


Published: Wednesday, June 24, 2015 in The News of Delaware County, The Garnet Valley Press, and several other newspapers in the Delco News Network

By Betty Lou Roselle

When I was first approached to review The Last Dreamgirl by Shane Hayes, I declined, thinking “What women wants to read a book about a man’s idea of the perfect woman?” When I was again asked to review the book by a valued co-worker, I acquiesced and I’m so glad I did.

Yes, this is the story about the very handsome Ron Pavone who watches the incredibly beautiful Marisa emerge from the water at the beach in New Jersey and decides she will be his based solely on physical attraction.

But running parallel to this is the story of Ollie Bower, born horribly disfigured, whose loving parents die when he is in his late twenties. Although wealthy, he’s lonely and aware that he has no hope of meeting a woman who will love him, so he kidnaps his dreamgirl after stalking her for weeks. He chooses her because he senses a sadness in her that he feels will allow her to accept his friendship. Sandra is a very intelligent young woman of faith, who will use her love of God to get her through the ordeal of living in a cage in Ollie’s basement. The sadness that Ollie sensed in Sandra comes from the fact that her brutal uncle has been abusing her. The reader is left to decide which situation is worse for this young girl, especially since Ollie is not demanding anything physically from her and showers her with anything she could want.

Their lives will intersect with Ron Pavone when he’s hired to investigate Sandra’s disappearance. He is now married to Marisa and constantly cheating on her. We can see he will never appreciate this dreamgirl he pursued with such passion.

Although we feel sympathy for Ollie, his capture of Sandra drags on for months instead the few weeks he promised her. She has become too important to him, he can’t let her leave.

I don’t want to give any more of this gripping story away but I finished this book in two days, I couldn’t put it down.

Victoria Alexander said...

Thanks for sharing the excerpt, I really enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to reading this book!

Shane Hayes said...

Glad you'll read it, Victoria, and I'm pleased we're now friends on Facebook.

Rita said...

Sounds like a good read.

Shane Hayes said...


One of the themes of The Last Dreamgirl is bullying and the profound effect it can have on a child's personality development. Here's an excerpt from the Prologue that shows the kind of hostility and rejection that Ollie, the kidnapper, suffered from a very early age. He was five when this scene took place:

"He was playing — alone as always — with toy soldiers in a little fort he had made at the back edge of the Bower property where the lawn ended and the trees and shrubs of the arboretum began. The two boys were pretending to be Indian scouts stealing invisibly through the forest. When one caught sight of Ollie, he signaled the other to be still. Bush by bush they advanced to about five feet from where Ollie knelt. They made no sound audible to him. He went on with an enthralling fistfight between a metal soldier and a plastic fireman. The imaginative fray involved muttered words and exaggerated facial expressions that changed radically every few seconds.

"The larger boy, a handsome kid with fine features, prized looks above everything and had never seen anyone as ugly as little Ollie. Beak-nosed, almost chinless, with misplaced eyes close to the perimeter of his face and a weird gap in the middle, the child reminded him of a hideous buzzard in the cartoon illustrations of a fable his mother used to read to him. He found Ollie’s face so ugly, even in repose, as to be an affront; but when Ollie contorted that repulsive face into an expression that deliberately made it uglier, the boy felt a wave of hatred and avenging fury. He picked up a smooth stone about half the size of a golf ball, and hurled it at Ollie’s nose. It bounced off his forehead with a sickening clunk.

"Ollie literally didn’t know what hit him. His face registered shock and grew violently red. The contact point on his forehead turned white and, as Ollie silently screamed, it swelled into a frightful lump, a little smaller than the roundish stone that caused it. In the ten seconds it took for Ollie’s breathless scream to enlist his diaphragm and become audible, the two boys had beat a terrified retreat into the woods. Though Ollie half-consciously saw them dashing through the bushes, he was too dazed, dizzied, anguished—and childish—to make the logical deduction that the vanishing boys were the cause of his suddenly inexplicably aching skull."

Betty Woodrum said...

Sounds like an intense book! Thank you for the great post and contest!

Shane Hayes said...

That's a good word, Betty. It is "intense." These are some of the themes woven tightly together into the fabric of the plot: A study of Beauty and the Beast. Of dreamgirl fixation. Of shyness, ugliness, brutal bullying. Of friendship, enmity, and love. Freedom lost and found. Faith and unbelief. English professor John Rybnik said: "I hated to stop reading when I had to attend to the demands of daily life. I couldn't wait to get back to see what happened next.... A wonderful sense of place. I leave the book amazed at how casually 'normal' human beings can torment those who don't fit in while feeling no guilt in doing so. I'm struck by how far minor kindnesses can go in the harsh environment of the world's Ollies. I'm determined to be a kinder, gentler person myself."

Amanda Sakovitz said...

thanks for the chance!

Shane Hayes said...

My pleasure, Amanda. Thank you!