Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Author Interview ~ Gwen Mayo

We’ve had two Author Mini-Interviews so far–with Sarah Glenn and Eve Macbeth. Of course, we still have all of our other, slightly longer, Author Interviews.

Today, we have another Mini and it needs mentioning that all of these shorter interviews come from the pages of Book Island‘s weekly newsletter, Heads Up, in the virtual world of Second Life.

So, let’s get the interview with Gwen Mayo rolling:
Gwen, when did you start writing?

I started writing poetry when they were building the Vietnam War Memorial. I really wanted to be there and hear my brother’s name read on the plaza, but I was just a poor kid from Kentucky. Then I heard about this contest for a poem that would be part of the dedication. I must have written fifty poems that I threw away before coming up with the one that I sent. Probably the most profound and humbling moment of my life was standing there by that black wall reading my words into a microphone.

Completely Fascinating, Gwen… Tell me, what were your other early writings about?

My early stories weren’t written. There were no libraries or bookstores in my home town. I was like a lot of other storytellers who grew up in the Appalachian region. I kind of lived inside my head, making up stories and telling them to my kid sister and her friends. A lot of the stories were about Kentucky, but my sister’s favorites were adventures that took place in far away places. When she was about six, my sister refused to go to sleep until she got her nightly fix of Carson the Coconut Boy. I spent an entire year making up nightly chapters of the adventures of a three inch tall boy who lived in a coconut shell.

Whoot! That’s great :-) Now, tell us about your “writing habits”?

Sarah tells me that my biggest writing habit is to wait until she isn’t around. Seriously, living in a two writer household has its own special challenges. My wife believes life needs a soundtrack. To write, I need quiet. Usually, that means I write on weekend mornings while she sleeps in. I also write from beginning to end. When I start editing, I may discover the first chapter is backstory that needs to be cut. Parts of it may get worked into later chapters, but I have a finished draft first.

When were you published?

Aside from that first poem, there were several of my poems published in the 1980’s and in the 1990’s. A poem of mine was turned into a performance piece, and I got to go to college on an arts fellowship. I started writing short fiction in college. My first short story wasn’t published until 2005. My debut novel came out on the 4th of July last year.

Tell us about that book.

Circle of Dishonor is a historical mystery. Nessa Donnelly, my detective, is a former Pinkerton Agent who has assumed her brother’s identity. She’s spent fourteen years chasing the secret society responsible for his death. In the spring of 1879, a young prostitute who befriended her is suspected of murder and in the course of trying to clear her friend, she discovers a plot that puts everyone she cares about in danger. The Knights of the Golden Circle, the secret society she has been hunting, is active again and Nessa is racing the clock to stop them before they wreck her life again.

Gwen, thanks, so much, for taking the time to give us a peek into your writing life!!
So, folks, be sure to go to Gwen’s site for more information on her debut novel and other interesting aspects of her life:
It’s A World of Secrets

And, if you’re ever in Second Life, visit Gwen’s bookshop
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2 responses to “Author Interview ~ Gwen Mayo

  1. Simone Benedict July 18, 2011 at 4:47 am

    Very nice! Thanks for the interview, Alex. The Vietnam Memorial is powerful. It must have been quite an event to read there.


    • Alexander M Zoltai July 18, 2011 at 8:42 am

      I can only imagine what power flows in that space


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