In the Mind of Bob Mayer – 30 Years of Happily Ever Afters

Last week our Conference Chair was away on her daunting task of Florida theme park visits, and alas, we missed a week of interviews. Don’t fret, because this week for our featured workshop presenter we have the awesome Bob Mayer from Cool Gus Publishing and NY Times Best Selling Author of his Nightstalkers series.

Bob will be giving two, yes TWO, workshops at our conference in October.  Write It Forward: Building a Career Plan for Authors and E-pub, POD, and the Future of Publishing for the Writer are just two of many fabulous workshops we have scheduled.

For more information on our conference, on when registration opens, and other popular questions, please visit our website at

Please welcome Bob!

How did you come up with the idea for Nightstalkers?

When I was in Special Operations, we were always wondering who was doing the really high speed stuff.  Then it turns out, looking back, we were the ones.  But I took it a step further and wondered what a unit that took care of things that go bump in the night would be like.  Sort of The Unit meets Warehouse 13.

What was the most difficult aspect of writing?

Everything about being a writer is great.  Except for the writing.  Balancing between the thriller aspect of the plot and the tongue in cheek tone.  In a way, I was going for a bit of the tone Jennifer Crusie and I used in Agnes and the Hitman.  A little bit of snark doesn’t hurt.

How much research did you conduct for Nightstalkers and what was the most interesting thing you did while conducting your research?

Basically my many years in Special Operations played a large role.  The most recent book, Nightstalkers: Rift, I based it right here at Write on the River, where I live.  A lot of the action takes place in the river right outside my office.

Why did you decide to write your genre?

I write in a variety of genres:  military thriller, science fiction, nonfiction.  I co-wrote in Romance.  I write about things that interest me.  I did a blog post about the four posts of my stories:  spec ops experience; history; myth & legend; and the mysteries of the human brain.

What is your process for writing a book? For example, are you a plotter or a pantzer? Do you start at page 1 and write your book sequentially or do you skip around? Do you start with your characters or the plot?

I’m a mixture of both.  With over 60 books written, I trust my subconscious more.  I’m also fortunate in that my wife is a story streamer with the most extensive reading background of anyone I know.  I can bounce ideas off her and she always comes up with something better.

Do you use any techniques, tools, or aids to help you write? 

The only thing I’ve consistently used for every book I’ve written is what I call a ‘story grid’.  It’s an Excel spread sheet.  The columns from left to right are usually: chapter, start page, end page, date, time, location and then a brief summary of the action.  Each row is a scene.  I fill this out as I write the book because it allows me to keep track of the story.  I’m very bad with details, so the grid keeps me oriented.

How do you make time to write?

I’ve been writing full time for a quarter century.  Seven days a week, all the time.  The only issue now is that I also run my own company, Cool Gus, so that eats up a lot of time too.

What advice do you have for other writers?

I think it’s the best time ever to be a writer.  The only one who can stop you is yourself.

What books can we expect to see in the near future?

After sixty books, I’m doing something unique:  wrapping several of my series together.  I’ve already merged in characters from my Cellar Series into Nightstalkers, now I’m merging in characters and concepts from my Atlantis series into Nightstalkers.  When you have parallel worlds and time travel, you can do pretty much anything although it does give me a headache to keep track of it all.

With so many changes in publishing over the past year, where do you see the future of publishing going?

Digital.  Everyone is saying digital has leveled out but those numbers, aka The Wire, are juked.  They’re ignoring the huge indie author movement.  The reality is shelf space for physical books is shrinking.  See many video stores around?  Yes, there will always be print books, but Amazon already sells 1/3rd of those.

Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

I have a kindle, but I read mostly on my iPhone because it’s very convenient.  I always have my phone with me, so I always have my book with me.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve ever done?

I’d have to kill you, cut off your head, and lock it in a safe.  So I’ll pass.

(Laughing) Okay, well tell us a little about the state/country you live in.

I live at Write on the River.  Just outside Knoxville on a high bluff overlooking the TN River.  I’m amazed you can take a boat from here and make it all the way to the ocean.  Some day.

Cat or dog person?

Cool Gus says it all.

Fair enough. Okay, Bob, get ready, we have our rapid response portion. Don’t think about your answers, just say the first thing that comes to mind. Ready? 

Favorite color:  Green

Favorite number: 8

Favorite Actor:  Paul Newman

Wine or liquor?  Neither

Tea or coffee?  Both

Decaf or caffeinated?  Decaf in morning, caffeine in the afternoon

Boxers or briefs?  Not saying

Chocolate or vanilla?  Vanilla

Donald Duck or Goofy?  Neither

Frozen (the movie) or Tangled?  Haven’t seen either.  I like Despicable Me II

Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp?  Huh?


Want to meet or attend Bob’s workshop? Make sure you register come June 1st!

Bob Mayer


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