Psychologist turns hobby into first published novel

Jessica Bayliss

BEACON FALLS — Jessica Bayliss never intended to become an author.

Bayliss, a 42-year-old Beacon Falls resident, has a doctorate in clinical psychology, and after working as a psychologist for 15 years she felt she needed an outlet.

“I was feeling a bit burned out and thought it would be fun to have a hobby,” Bayliss said.

Bayliss said she’s always loved to read and had dabbled in writing at times. However, when she sat down in 2010 to try to write a full-length novel, it was a completely new endeavor.

“It was a secret,” Bayliss said of her first attempt at writing a novel. “I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t think I could do it. There was no risk because it was all just for fun.”

As things turned out, she could write a novel. Her debut book “Ten After Closing” was recently published by Sky Pony Press.

Bayliss described “Ten After Closing” as a young adult hostage thriller. The story follows two recent high school graduates as they try to survive after armed gunmen take them hostage at a diner.

Bayliss said she wrote “Ten After Closing,” and her other unpublished works, based on what she would want to read.

“I ask myself what would I love to read right now? What book would I love to find in the store? What would I have wanted to read when I was young,” Bayliss said.

While “Ten After Closing” is her first published novel, Bayliss said she’s written numerous novels and short stories that haven’t been published.

Bayliss, who has lived in the Naugatuck Valley for many years, said she includes areas in the Valley in most of what she writes. The diner in “Ten After Closing” is set in Shelton, she said.

Some of her unpublished work includes factories in Naugatuck and areas throughout Beacon Falls, including Matthies Park, Bayliss said.

“That park inspired me to try to write for the first time,” Bayliss said.

Bayliss said being a clinical psychologist gave her a deeper understanding about people and helped her become a better writer. While she never writes about patients, Bayliss said she is able to work through some of the themes she hears in her writing.

“I don’t advise people to get a psychology doctorate to become a writer, but it helps,” Bayliss said.