Gwen Mayo started writing poetry before she took on the challenge of writing a novel. She won a fellowship for her poetry and went to college on an arts scholarship.
"I studied politics and history. I write historical and the politics and history are intimately entwined in what I write," said Mayo. "I wanted to write about historical Kentucky. In college I helped with a book about women who served in the state legislature. I also started writing short fiction in college."
She and Sarah Glenn wrote one short mystery together about retired nurses from WWI. Women who drove ambulances in France and were getting shot at.
"Sarah's great-great aunt served in WWI as a nurse. She was very independent and intrepid,” she said.
In Mayo's novel, "Circle of Dishonor," Nessa Donnelly, a former Pinkerton agent, poses as a Civil War nurse. Nessa was raised by the Sisters of Mercy, in Chicago. She's a single woman posing as a man and yes that does lead to a number of gender issues she has to work around.
Mayo was interested in focusing on that period of Kentucky's past called the “Decades of Discord, in which, she said, Kentucky was the most violent place in America.
"There were a lot of secret societies, outlaws, and feuds in the mountains. The book takes place during a few weeks in 1879," she said. "It's part of a series. I'm about 40,000 words into the next book, which deals with Klan activity in Central Kentucky. The book that will follow will take place in Eastern Kentucky during the Regulator Uprising in the fall of 1879. The fourth one will be on Indiana and will deal with the gambling going on in a resort area."
The core group of characters are Nessa, Doc Haydon, Tad, and Beulah. Mayo has an agreement for a contract with one publisher. She said The Pill Hill Press people are very supportive.
The book was published in print format and is available in Kindle and Nook.
As far as promotion, many of the things Sarah Glenn did, Gwen did first. The book was featured on Goodreads, reviewed by the Historical Fiction Society, and promoted both on line and in personal appearances.
When she is not writing fiction, Gwen reviews lesbian historical fiction for Bosom Friends at lesbianhistoricalfiction.blogspot.com.
"Book Island has had open mic sessions and micro fiction on Sundays in Second Life," she said. "We also opened Odd Women's Bookstore there. We started including our books and other women's, like Marian Allen's. We welcome instant messages to discuss them.”