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San Angelo Lifestyles

Principles & Purpose: A Profile of Author BJ Mayo

Photos by larae russell photography     


"It is my strong belief that each person has some type of specific purpose with their time on the planet." Well-known author and long-time Concho Valley resident, BJ Mayo, has a way with words that makes them stick inside your head. When speaking with him, you get the sense that he is well aware of his purpose and has intent behind each word he speaks. BJ Mayo is a man who exudes wisdom, patience and strength and has a personality so impactful, it's an honor he's chosen to share his talents with the world. While he has many hobbies and skills, his writing is what captured our attention and we were humbled to have spent some time with him learning about his talents, his process, and his incredible life story. 

 

How/Why did you begin writing? 

I began writing in earnest about six years ago, albeit rather sporadic due to my travel schedule. Sometimes while on the road, other times at home in my office setting. As to why, that is a good question. Perhaps it is the freedom that comes with creating a fictional narrative that someone might actually enjoy reading. 

Did you always want to write/be an author?

Writing has always attracted me. After traveling to my mother’s birthplace in Louisiana as a young boy, I felt drawn to someday write about what I saw there, some of which I have never shared but still remember very well. My job in the energy industry allowed me to travel extensively in many areas of the United States as well as Bangladesh, Australia and Angola, West Africa. Out of all of those experiences, fictional narratives can be woven. 

What is another passion you have besides storytelling?

Music is a great passion. Horses are another. 


What about your life is most directly reflected in your writing?

Redemption and lessons learned from an errant youth, perhaps. I have had the very unique privilege of working alongside people in the US and abroad that may not live under the same conditions that we enjoy in this country. Their individuality, fierce determination and cultural diversity are of great interest to me in story and character development. 


You've got multiple other books in progress, tell us more about the process of writing & publishing a series.

From conceptual design to the final product is a long climb. My second book, “Sparrows of Montenegro” a western set in 1870, is being line edited now in NYC. The book is based on a painting that was given to me around four years ago. I spent about six months writing it.  Currently, I am writing three other novels and have around twenty-six that are structured. The writing process is probably different for everyone. When I  write, it is usually for five to six hours at a time, non-stop. When the inspiration comes, it flows rapidly and nearly faster than my fingers can move on the keyboard. When a manuscript is complete in its very raw form, I select a group of folks to read the narrative for content, chronology,  character development and flow. Next, it is sent to an editor for review and comment. If a contract is offered and signed, it will go to line editing. Once a final product is produced, cover design and etc., several months have gone by. The books I have written thus far are not a series with continuations of characters. I have been approached about writing a series. For now, I prefer the very diverse characters and nature of each work.

Would you be open to your book(s) becoming a movie?

Contractually, movie rights are specifically written in each one thus far. It would be a great honor if one of my novels was selected for a movie. 

What is your favorite novel?

There are a few novels that I would call my favorites, not just one. 

  • Lonesome Dove: Larry McMurtry
  • Follow the River: James Alexander Thom
  • Grapes of Wrath: John Steinbeck
  • The Plains of Passage: Jean Auel
  • The Walking Drum: Louis Lamour
  • Big Stone Gap: Adriana Trigiani
  • Gates of Fire: Steven Pressfield
  • The Good Old Boys: Elmer Kelton

 

What surprised you most about writing-either your story or the process?
When building a group of diverse characters, you must dive into and take on their individual personality, quirks and all. Some of the characters that are developed are decent individuals overcoming great obstacles in life. Others are, shall we say “ less than desirable” with no moral compass. As in real life, these two factions are constantly at battle.  

Do you have a life motto, guiding principle, or scripture that inspires you?
Motto: There is nothing in life you cannot achieve  
Guiding principle: Endeavor to persevere under any circumstances
Favorite scripture: Acts 9: Verses 10-16

Who are the biggest influences in your life?
My wife, Diann. A calming voice in stormy seas. 
Olimpio Ncusso Nesmente Jack: Boy soldier during the Cabinda war in Cabinda, Angola. Friend and former employee in a war-torn land.  
Brent Heinze: The most honest individual I have ever met. A fine neighbor. 
 
What do you hope readers take away from your novels?
I would say that they might possibly see a piece of themselves in my novels in some form or fashion and that thread keeps them turning the pages. Also, a message of hope in a world that may not be as pretty at times as we would desire it to be. 

What advice would you give an aspiring writer?
Wear your own boots and hat so to speak and never let anyone tell you that you cannot write or anything else for that matter. Follow your dream and write. Using the term “someday” is not a particularly productive term in any endeavor. Someday is today. 

What advice would you tell your younger-self?
That is one of the most intriguing questions I have ever been asked in an interview. 
Advice to my younger self:  You always get a good view of the world from the back of a good horse. Maybe it is better to view the world at a “trot” and see the small things than at a full blown “gallop” and miss them. 

Until next time
BJ Mayo

 


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