Local playwright pens YA mystery book

The book cover for Tom Hayes' debut novel.

Tom Hayes—whose website identifies him as “brewer, librarian, playwright”—can now add novelist to that list. This Cleveland Heights resident’s debut novel for young adults, Secret of the Warlock’s Crypt, is a historical thriller that takes place in Northeast Ohio.

Cryptic drawings, maps and strange symbols are what 12-year-old Mike Hilliard discovers when he investigates the long-dead, ruthless millionaire Titus Morley. As these strange symbols and drawings occupy his dreams, Mike rambles through the listless Cleveland Heights summer with Billy Hayworth, a photography intern at the Western Reserve Historical Society, where Mike’s uncle, Robert “Otto” Hilliard, is a historian.

Titus Morley died in a refinery explosion in 1872, after which his treasure trove of rare grimoires (books of magic) and ancient masks disappeared. Could the drawings and maps provide clues? Mike and Billy are determined to find out. But after wandering through a nearby cemetery at midnight, Mike’s confidence is shaken, Billy is not the same, and a soul-stirring horror has been awakened.

Hayes wrote Secret of the Warlock’s Crypt for middle-grade readers (10–15 years of age), but adult readers will enjoy it, too.

Hayes dedicated the book to John Bellairs, author of the Gothic mystery novels that fascinated him while he was growing up. Now a librarian in Northeast Ohio, Hayes has adapted his love for research, history and writing fictional stories to creating a sinister history about Cleveland and its surroundings.

Hayes is an award-winning playwright who received his MFA from Cleveland State University and the Northeast Ohio Masters of Fine Arts program. His thesis play, Patterns was staged at Cleveland Public Theatre. Other playwriting credits include The Appalachian Trail, Only Sing for Me, and A Howl in the Woods. The latter, now renamed Lord of the Burgeoning Lumber, was awarded Best Original Script by a Local Playwright in 2008 by Rave and Pan, a theatre blog site. 

Kirsten Rosebrock

Kirsten Rosebrock, wife of Tom Hayes, has lived in Cleveland Heights for 15 years. She is the librarian for the upper/middle school at Laurel. 

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Volume 8, Issue 5, Posted 5:59 PM, 04.30.2015