‘Ode to My Adolescence’

Local author publishes book supporting others struggling with mental health

Author Kyndell Hays (Courtesy of Kyndell Hays)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman native Kyndell Hays has recently published her first book of poetry and prose called “Ode to My Adolescence,” a series of separate pieces about the struggles of growing up and dealing with mental health issues, heartbreak and trauma. Hays said with the book she strives to connect with others coping with similar issues and show them they are not alone.  Her first book signing was held June 25 at Karma’s Coffee House, where the community showed support for its local talent.

Even though Hays is now a published author, she said it wasn’t in her original career plan. A rising senior at Jacksonville State University, she plans to go to graduate school for mental health counseling. Her plans are to become a licensed counselor and work with children and teenagers. 

Hays has an equal love for psychology and the art of writing, and the combination shines through in her work.

“I have loved writing and storytelling for as long as I can remember. I started writing stories as soon as I understood the concept, and it’s been a constant hobby for me over the years,” she shared. “I started getting interested in poetry in middle school, and I have filled so many journals with my poems ever since. In my opinion, the only way to truly get better at writing is simply to keep on writing, and my skills definitely improved majorly over the many years I have spent writing short stories and poetry.”

Her favorite book of poetry, “Eighteen Years” by Madisen Kuhn, is the book that encouraged her to start writing her own poetry. Hays said that publishing her first collection of poetry has boosted her confidence and made her believe that she can achieve her writing aspirations.

“When I compiled the poems for my book, I thought about just leaving them in my journals because putting something so precious to me out into the world for everyone to read was kind of scary,” she said, “but I knew if I didn’t publish them, I would end up regretting it. To me, this was the first step in my writing journey.”

Although the experience has been fulfilling for Hays personally, she hopes the experiences she shared will reach those going through similar situations.

“My main hope in publishing this collection was to reach other people that might be struggling with the trials of growing up, heartbreak and mental health and to help them feel less alone. Poetry has been a great outlet for me, and I hope others can see how beautifully diverse it can be,” she said. “I decided to publish my work to prove to myself that I could accomplish my goals, but the poems are directed more towards mental health awareness for all.”

Hays has plans to publish many more works, including an adult fantasy novel she has been working on for about two years. The project is a much larger undertaking than her poetry collection, and she said she hopes to have it out in the next few years.

For other new authors who do not know where to begin, Hays recommends Kindle Direct Publishing.

“I self-published to get my work and name out there for my future books and bigger projects,” she said. “Kindle Direct Publishing is a great resource for new authors who aren’t sure where to start. Just keep working towards your goal and keep writing! One day, you’ll stumble across the idea that will be the story you want to share with the world, and once you have that idea, the only thing that can truly stop you is yourself.”

Hays’ book can be found on Amazon at https://tinyurl.com/kendellhays.

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