Matthew P. Mayo

I write novels, non-fiction books, short stories, essays, poetry, and that tiny disclaimer type on bubble gum wrappers. I’ve also been known to edit magazines, test experimental jetpacks (always wear your helmets, kids … or grow enough hair to cover the scars), and engage in bare-knuckle pugilism with semi-trained grizzlies on the touring circus circuit (summers only). Look out!

I am a best-selling, award-winning author of thirty-plus books and dozens more short stories. My 2013 novel, Tucker’s Reckoning, won the Western Writers of America’s Spur Award for Best Western Novel, and my short stories have been Spur Award and Peacemaker Award finalists.

I’ve been an on-screen expert for a popular BBC-TV series about lost treasure in the American West, and I’ve had three books optioned for film. I am an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America and a member of: Western Writers of America; Western Fictioneers; SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators); and Grizzly Boxers Anonymous.

I live in the deepest, forested wildlands of Maine with my wife, photographer and videographer Jennifer Smith-Mayo, along with our indefatigable pup, Miss Tess. When we’re not battling belligerent bigfoots and foiling the filching hordes of gray squirrels, we run Gritty Press ( and rove the byways of North America in search of hot coffee and high adventure. Be sure to rummage at my website ( for updates about spurious projects, outrageous outings, and a few surprises, too….

STRANDED book trailer:


Western Writers of America’s 2013 Spur Award for Best Western Novel.
Finalist, Western Fictioneers 2010 Peacemaker Award for Short Fiction.
Finalist, Western Writers of America’s 2010 Spur Award for Short Fiction.



Joining LitPick for Six Minutes with an Author is award-winning author, Matthew P. Mayo. He’s an adventure seeker who is inspired by all things outdoor.

How did you get started writing?

Hi there. I remember clacking out stories on my mother’s portable Atlas typewriter (mint green with a burgundy zippered carry case!) when I was in second grade. And I spent many hours alone as a kid, fishing for trout on the Missisquoi River in northern Vermont and narrating amazing adventures and danger-filled deeds of derring. My first audiences were kingfishers and snapping turtles and muskrats. They never told me to stop … so I kept on making up stories. And I’m still at it.

Who influenced you?

My earliest influences are undoubtedly my parents, both of whom love to read. Our house was stocked with shelves of books and piles of magazines sliding all over the place. Later, as I put effort into writing, I discovered poetry, from limericks and haiku to book-length epics. Poetry’s tight use of language, of working to select the best and fewest words to convey a thought, continues to be a big influence on me.

A few other influences: Roald Dahl and his playful, irreverent writing; Edgar Rice Burroughs, who brought the jungle and Mars alive; adventure stories in Outdoor Life and Boys’ Life magazines; James Herriott’s Yorkshire veterinary tales; Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea novels; Jim Kjelgaard’s outdoor adventure stories; TV Westerns such as Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and Grizzly Adams. I better stop, or we’ll never get to the next question….

Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?

As a reader and as a writer I lean toward reading about and writing characters who find themselves in tough spots in which they must rely on themselves to survive. That’s why Janette, the heroine of my latest novel, STRANDED, was so fun to spend time with—she realized she had to rely on herself to survive, or she’d die. She chose to fight!

What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?

The cliché holds true: Read, read, read, write, write, write. Repeat forever. To those basic ingredients, I add: Get outside each day, whether it’s on a sidewalk or a mountain trail, and exercise your mind and body, feel hot sun and cool breeze, and breathe deeply of the great outdoors. Lean against a rough-bark shade tree or a sun-soaked brick wall, anything as long as you’re not sitting holed-up indoors and sedentary. That will result in a dreary day for you and dreary pages for your readers (who, if they are bored, will soon become someone else’s readers).

Where is your favorite place to write?

My wife and I run Gritty Press (, and tow our wee camper all over North America, mostly into the backcountry, camping and hiking and seeking adventures and inspiration for stories. We call these forays our “collecting trips” and they take us to some pretty wild places, all of which are my new favorite places to write! I can sit on a log or in a beat-up camp chair and whap away on the laptop at whatever adventure I’m working on at the moment. Sometimes it’s in view of the Rocky Mountains or at the Mogollon Rim or along a creek in northern Idaho or deep in the heart of Death Valley or the Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota or watching the sun set over Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula or along a rocky beach way downeast in Maine. They’re all my favorite places to write. And I can’t wait to find more!

What else would you like to tell us?

If you really want to write, just plain do it. Don’t make excuses or wait for the perfect time or place, because perfection doesn’t exist, except as a word. Write every single day, even when you think you don’t want to, and the words will stack up and become stories, poems, and books. Just like walking from Maine to California can only be done one step at a time, so writing a book can only be accomplished one word at a time, but you’ll get there if you keep walking, keep writing.

Also, I invite everyone to my mountainside cave on the Web: … be sure to bring a story, a song, or a joke for the campfire. I’ll supply the marshmallows!

Thank you, LitPick!


Matthew, thank you for stopping by to share what inspires you as a writer. Your advice about getting outside is great, and we’d love to hear more about your incredible adventures. Your advice about “just writing” will be an encouragement to those who have a desire to write but have been coming up with excuses to put it off.




Matthew P. Mayo

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