[Following is the content of my first agent query, going out this Monday]
Matthew Hauser is nine years old when he and his older sister are taken by the authorities from their neglectful mother and placed in an orphanage run by a sadist. Matt is a sensitive, intelligent boy with an indomitable spirit. Before the Home, he had been doted on by the loving great aunt who raised him, until poverty forced the hand-off to his alcoholic mother. When the first of these tightly linked stories begins, he has been living in terror behind the red brick walls for more than two years. His spirit is tested to an extreme, but he endures, scarred but strong and wise for his age. In a spontaneous act of crafty revenge, he pranks some bullies with fake candies he made from cannibalized badminton birdies. He wins a speech contest. He earns a scholarship. As he leaves for college, he's a loner, hardened toward love and determined to make something of himself.
My stories pull back the curtain on discarded children making their way toward adulthood through the fog of institutional indifference and abuse, even torture. The last of the seven story series, "Sweat and Tears," leaps forward fifty years to a transcontinental reunion between Matt and the sixty-four year-old version of his cohort Robby-now a Vietnam-era former Marine-whose horrific beating has haunted Matt throughout his life. "I had her in my crosshairs," the delusional Robby says of the matron whose hand had wielded the board.
These stories are based on my nine years at the Tarrant County Children's Home in Fort Worth, Texas, 1955-1963. Except for changed names, time compression and a few invented scenes, I've simply dressed naked history in story suit. My intention from the outset has been to honor the struggle, the suffering, the villainy and the heroes who made it bearable, with truth.
America's ten million orphans and former foster children are under-represented in our literature, a void that I address with the full details of institutional life, as in The Shawshank Redemption-not romanticized back story, as in Good Will Hunting; nor a brief excursion, as in Sleepers; nor caricature, as in Little Orphan Annie.
In the Dallas-Fort Worth area where I grew up, I earned a business degree and began my career in corporate finance. I migrated to Northern California in my mid-thirties, where I settled into family life. The San Francisco Bay Area is where I now reside, but Texas will always be home. My earliest years were shaped by war, poverty, family alcoholism and abandonment, forging an humanitarian world view. After raising my two daughters, I left a successful business career to write about my fractured childhood, looking for answers to the puzzle of how children with living parents can end up in orphanages and foster homes. One of my stories, "Sweat and Tears" was recently published in Synchhronized Chaos, an on-line literary magazine.
Here for your consideration are "Prince" and "Bird." The remaining five stories are available should you be interested.
Causes Monty Heying Supports