This week’s author interview is with Gwen Mayo, mystery writer with several books to her name. She’s a Kentucky-born writer with a flair for history. You can find more about her here on Goodreads:
1. What drew you to writing?
I started writing because I have a bad memory. When my younger sister was about four-years-old she had nightmares. I would tell her stories to get her to relax and go back to sleep. It worked, but kids that age want to hear the same stories over and over again. The trouble was, I couldn’t remember what I told her the night before. I had to start writing my stories down and learning them.
2. I understand your story “A Proper Job for a Lady” is featured in an anthology that you helped publish. Tell me about the story.
Strangely Funny is a paranormal humor anthology, which is great fun for writers and readers. “A Proper Job for a Lady” features Atalanta Wilde, a fashion conscious monster hunter who has returned to her hometown to face the monster who has plagued her family for the last century.
3. How did you come to be a publisher of an anthology?
A little over a year ago, my spouse and I had to choose between her parents selling their home and going to a nursing home and relocating to Florida to take care of them. We sold the house to my daughter, left our day jobs, and moved to Florida to look after them. It was a very difficult time, because we knew her father was dying. He needed a lot of care, so we couldn’t be away from the house for any length of time.
The second shoe fell when our publisher closed her doors, leaving us with both no jobs and no publisher. We had to scramble to get back on our feet. My second novel is currently under consideration with another publishing house, but we really wanted to keep doing the kind of short fiction we love. That’s why I started researching what it would take to start our own press. We had already formed an LLC for tax purposes so adding a publishing arm wasn’t difficult. The rest has been a learning experience.
Strangely Funny is the first of three anthologies we will be doing this year. All Hallows’ Evil our Halloween Mystery anthology has just closed to submissions, and we are currently taking stories for the Undead of Winter. We are also publishing Ha Ha Horror, a monster joke book by Monster Matt Patterson.
4. What other kinds of stories are in Strangely Funny?
All twenty-five stories are a cross between things that go bump in the night and situations that make us laugh. There are so many great stories that Strangely Funny it is hard to pin down the range of stores. Agatha award winning Author Catriona McPherson introduced us to a ghost with awful decorating taste. David Bernard does a wonderful story on why you shouldn’t take short cuts through the cemetery to hook up to County Water. Ken MacGregor’s pixie detective story kept me laughing. There are vampires, gnomes, gargoyles, even a dinosaur in the mix.
5. Who is your favorite writer and why?
That’s a tough question. One of the best and scariest books I ever read was Margret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. With mystery Ariana Franklin’s Mistress of the Art of Death series is outstanding. The truth is, that any author that can give me a great plot and great characters is going to rank high on my favorites list.
6. What was the most difficult thing about the publishing process?
Formatting. Formatting. Formatting. Print versions of the book have issues, but the big headaches are hit with the ebooks. Ereaders have different formats and the manuscript must be set up to work in all of them. Every author, even me, will leave invisible formatting problems in the manuscript. A lot of hours were spent fixing problems that couldn’t be seen until the format changed. When you have twenty-five different authors to work with, the problem is exponentially worse.
7. What are you working on next?
Right now I am splitting my time between Murder on the Mullet Express, a roaring twenties mystery Sarah Glenn and I are writing together, revising Concealed in Ash, the sequel to my first novel, and All Hallows’ Evil, the Halloween mystery anthology coming up next from Mystery and Horror, LLC. As you can see, I have a full plate. I am hoping to find time to write a short mystery for the Speed City Chapter of Sisters in Crime.
8. What advice do you have for other writers?
Rejection isn’t personal. The hardest part of being a writer is rejection, because there is a little bit of us in the words we put on a page. It takes a lot of courage to send your work out over and over again when you’re getting those form rejections. You have to remember it is a story that was rejected not you.
Editors have a limited number of stories they can accept. As we were getting ready to close Strangely Funny, there were a dozen stories on the short list and only room for four. We had to turn down two good stories for each one we selected. If you take every rejection to heart it will crush your sprint and stifle your talent.