The first thing people notice when meeting best-selling author Haywood Smith is her warm smile and positive energy – which is remarkable considering all that the 63-year-old has been through. For instance, she’s battled chronic pain most of her life.
Haywood has a genetic disorder: Her body produces too many T cells when exposed to yeasts, molds and fungi. As a result, her immune system goes into overdrive, causing an inflammatory response affecting her joints and pituitary system.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that Haywood got a correct diagnosis – chronic fungal arthritis as a result of a T cell receptor defect. Her inflammatory condition has caused joint pain and destruction since she was 12. By age 57, she had endured 26 surgeries, including double-knee and double-hip replacements.
Haywood likens her life to living in a Stephen King novel, which she thought was normal till she started using her experiences in her books. She seems to take life’s adversities in stride, with optimism and wit. Already the author of six successful historical romance novels, she decided after her divorce 11 years ago to never read or write a book that didn’t make her laugh and feel good. So she began writing humorous novels targeting baby boomer women, which won her loyal fans and commercial success. The Red Hat Club (St. Martin’s Press, 2004) made The New York Times best-seller list.