Short bio: C.M. Mayo is the author of the forthcoming The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, as well as the widely-lauded travel memoir, Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California, the Other Mexico, and Sky Over El Nido, which won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction.
Founding editor of Tameme, the bilingual (Spanish/English) chapbook press,
Mayo is also a translator of contemporary Mexican poetry and fiction. Her anthology of Mexican fiction in translation, Mexico: A Traveler’s Literary Companion, was published by Whereabouts Press in March 2006. Mayo’s stories, essays and poems have appeared in numerous U.S. literary magazines including Chelsea, Creative Nonfiction, Fourth Genre, Kenyon Review, The North American Review, The Paris Review, Southwest Review, Tin House and Witness.
She also blogs on books, creative writing, lit-blogging, and other subjects on her blog, “Madam Mayo”. Currently she divides her time between Mexico City, where she offers workshops via Dancing Chiva, and Washington DC, where she is on the faculty of The Writers Center . Her website is http://www.cmmayo.com
1. Tell us about your latest book.
The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire is a historical novel of 19th century based on the true but never before completely told story. It’s a strange one: Even as the American Civil War raged north of the border, a clique of Mexican conservative exiles and clergy convinced Louis Napoleon to invade Mexico and install the Archduke of Austria, Maximilian von Habsburg, as Emperor of Mexico. A year later, the childless Maximilian took custody of the two year old, half-American, Agustin de Iturbide y Green, making the toddler his Heir Presumptive. Maximilian’s reluctance to return the child to his distraught parents, even as his empire began to fall, and the Empress Carlota descended into madness, ignited an international scandal. It will be published by Unbridled Books this May. Read an excerpt and more about the prince here:
2. How did you get started as a writer?
As a voracious reader of everything from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess to the whole library of Nancy Drew mysteries. When I was in college I discovered Flannery O’Connor, Chekhov, Tolstoy, Richard Yates, Yukio Mishima, Paul Bowles… Even now, so many years later, I find that the more I read the stronger and sharper the impulse to write. For me, reading is integral part of the writing process.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
Walk. Read. Computer. Walk dog. Read. Computer. Read. Computer. Walk dog.
4. Describe your desk / workspace.
Stunning view. Snoozing pug. Cup of tea. Flurries of little yellow post-its.
Desperate need for large corkboard.
5. Favorite books (especially for writers)
Robert Olen Butler: From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction
Audrey Flack’s Art & Soul: Notes on Creating
Mary Oliver’s A Poetry Handbook
Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art: Winning the Creative Battle
Gabriele Lusser Ricco’s Writing the Natural Way
Carolyn See’s Making a Literary Life
I maintain longer lists of recommended reading for my writing students here:
6. Tell us 3 interesting / crazy things about you.
I once wrote almost all the articles (some under pseudonyms) for one issue of a Mexican magazine called El Inversionista. As I recall. It was 20 years ago.
I collect jars of exotic honey (Tasmanian leatherwood is the best, by the way).
I live in Mexico City and Washington DC. Believe me, this is crazy.
7. Favorite quote.
Edgar Allen Poe, “All that we see or seem if but a dream within a dream.”
8. Best and worst part of being a writer.
Worst: Irregular income (which plays sneaky-snarky games with one’s mind).
9. Advice for other writers
Work on your first chakra. I am not kidding.
10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.
When I got stuck on my novel, I made a phone appointment with a medium so I could ask my characters (who were all based on real but long-dead people) what in blazes they were thinking to do the things they did! Well, they told me, and in shining detail. And yes, I incorprated a lot of this into the novel.
Where can people buy your books?
C.M. Mayo’s books are available from fine bookstores throughout the United States and all manjor on-line booksellers. Her latest book, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, will be published by Unbridled Books http://www.unbridledbooks.com in May 2009. It can be pre-ordered at amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/193296164X/cmmay
Read more at www.cmmayo.com