Posted by Phoenix West Rotary "West Side Story"

Soon to be Hollywood star, John Angelo, who is shooting a commercial on Saturday, introduced our speaker of the day, Matthew P. Mayo an award-winning author (Two-time winner of the Spur Award and Western Heritage Wrangler Award).

He writes n o v e l s , n o n - f i c t i o n b o o k s , p o e t r y , and short s t o r i e s . John raved a b o u t some of M a y o ’ s books he has read, i n c l u d i n g C o w b o y s , Mount a i n Men and Grizzly Bears, calling him a fantastic western writer, with great knowledge of the Southwest and Arizona history. Rather than a typical “talk”, this turned into an interesting question and answer session which was a good way to learn more about this unique and talented man, how he got into writing and even the process he uses to write. We learned that he and his wife, photographer Jennifer Smith-Mayo, along with their trusty Golden/Australian Shepherd mix pup, Miss Tess, live in the wilds of Maine. They doubled the size of their home a year-and-a-half ago and now consider 600 square feet palatial on 15 acres he calls a “wonderful place to be.” He indicated he writes books, essays, journalistic pieces and poetry but his bread and butter is novels. Matthew grew up with parents—his father a dairy farmer and his mother a teacher— who loved to read—books and reading was the common denominator. He was raised on TV westerns like Gunsmoke and Bonanza and grew up wanting to write stories like that. He was impressed with the Hollywood versions but “it is much more complicated and far more interesting than that,” he says. Traveling in various vehicles including a 28 foot Airstream and teardrop camper, he has traveled to 46 states. He particularly loves the west because it is so beautiful and also because he needs to do research.



He compares the process of writing/publishing with the long process of eating an elephant—one bite at a time. He has an 85,000 word book due May 15, so he started with the deadline, determined how many days he had between and divided the number of words by days to determine how many words he needed to write each day in order to meet the deadline. On a regular basis he writes 2,000-3,000 words a day, six days a week, fewer days in the summer. Although he usually writes a pretty clean first draft, ideally, it is good to let a draft set for a couple of weeks to a month and then go back fresh to review. It is not uncommon, he said, to remove junk writing. You need to be unafraid to do that. His motivation for writing? Simple, he says, “to make the car and mortgage payments.”

Matthew treats his writing like a 9-5 job, filling his writing quota daily. He uses a treadmill desk so he literally walks all day while writing using an eleven year old Macbook Air which has all the letters worn off from the daily pounding it takes. In addition to writing under his own name, he is also a ghost writer for some books sold through Walmart. Rights for two of his books have been bought for possible movies—Cowboys, Mountain Men and Grizzly Bears and Stranded. He and his wife used to work in the film industry so this will not be a new experience for them if/when the films materialize