Spurred and Shaken!

STRANDED: A Story of Frontier SurvivalI am pleased to announce that my novel, STRANDED: A STORY OF FRONTIER SURVIVAL, has won the 2018 Spur Award for Best Western Juvenile Fiction from Western Writers of America.

This grand news, following on the heels of the announcement that STRANDED won the 2018 Wrangler Award for Outstanding Western Novel, has left me smiling. Humility be darned, I am one proud papa.

BONUS: As this is my second Spur Award (my first was in 2013 for Best Western Novel for TUCKER’S RECKONING), I’ve been told that now my horse will no longer gallop in circles…. Onward!

Most of all, my heartiest congratulations to this year’s Spur Award winners and finalists. I am honored to be in such grand company. And I hope to see you all in Billings in June at the annual WWA Convention!


STRANDED: A STORY OF FRONTIER SURVIVALI found out several days ago that my novel, STRANDED: A STORY OF FRONTIER SURVIVAL, has been awarded the 2018 Western Heritage Wrangler Award for Outstanding Western Novel by the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (Here’s a link:

I’m amazed and humbled, as many previous winners are among my favorite writers, including: Cormac McCarthy, Larry McMurtry, A.B. Guthrie, Jr., Dorothy Johnson, Edward Abbey, Barbara Kingsolver, Michael Zimmer, Johnny D. Boggs, C.J. Box, Dusty Richards, Loren Estleman….

It’s an honor I never expected and I’m pleased the judges felt STRANDED was worthy of inclusion.

They asked me to keep it hush-hush until they announced it. Given that they’ve posted their selections for the 2018 Heritage Awards on the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum website, I believe it’s safe for me to announce it.

And now it’s time to celebrate!


HAUNTED OLD WESTWhat, I hear you say, does that Mayo character have in common with super-actress, Dame Helen Mirren? Well, pull up a camp stool and I’ll tell you.

It has to do with the release of WINCHESTER, the new movie starring Helen Mirren, about the intriguing, if odd, Mrs. Sarah Winchester and her singular coastal California abode—a home said to be the most-haunted house in the world.

I’m a longtime fan of stories of the bizarre and unexplained, and have written many horrific and supernatural stories (and working on more as we speak). A few years ago I wrote a book called HAUNTED OLD WEST, that explores the numerous haunted locations—forts, hotels, bars, canyons, houses, prisons—found throughout the American West.

Chief among them is the fascinating home of Mrs. Sarah Winchester, heir to the Winchester Repeating Arms fortune. Her obsessive guilt over pain caused by Winchester rifles, combined with a desire to protect the spirits of her deceased husband and child, manifested themselves in a unique and bizarre way.

Crews of builders, following Mrs. Winchester’s plans, added rooms, wings, and more to her ever-expanding house. They worked around the clock for close to four decades, intentionally never completing it. The result? A humongous, disjointed home filled with stairwells leading nowhere, doors opening onto nothing, windows facing walls, and on and on. Oh, and the place teems with angry, trapped ghosts aching for release and revenge! Perfect.

After I wrote about her, I became convinced her house is as has been claimed, the most haunted in the world. I also came away convinced Mrs. Sarah Winchester was not any crazier than the rest of us.

For my take on the Winchester Mystery House, check out my book, HAUNTED OLD WEST. Helen says she’ll leave a light on for you….


Timberline (A Roamer Western) by Matthew P MayoAnybody up for a grim, midwinter, high-mountain manhunt? If that is your cuppa, might I recommend pre-ordering your very own copy of my next novel, TIMBERLINE (A ROAMER WESTERN) at the bookstore/online outlet of your choice. This brand-new escapade is the third in my series of novels featuring Roamer and his crusty mentor, the mountain man Maple Jack, and they ride into view in May. Here’s the lowdown on TIMBERLINE:

A high-country train trek turns into a blizzard-bound trainwreck-from-hell for Roamer as a gang of gunmen run roughshod on the rails. They blow the safe, abscond with a mysterious young woman, and torch the train, leaving passengers to burn in the midst of a blizzard. Trailing death in its wake, the gang heads to the high country with Roamer dogging them on foot, the only man bold enough to track them—until he’s joined by his cantankerous old mentor, tough-as-nails mountain man Maple Jack. The men converge on the gang in the mountain valley ghost town of Sapphire City, and drive them beyond . . . deep into the maw of a fresh and vicious blizzard that unleashes its merciless might. With righteous rage and hard justice their only allies, Roamer and Maple Jack prepare for a final showdown at . . . Timberline.

If you’re new to the series and can’t wait to find out more about Roamer and Maple Jack, the first Roamer outing, WRONG TOWN, and the second, NORTH OF FORSAKEN, are up for grabs in paperback, hardcover, and ebook versions … right now!

Pre-order your copy today: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Powell’s


Wild West Magazine Cover Feb 2018Well, maybe not. But I am pleased and flattered to announce that friend and author Johnny Boggs interviewed me recently for the upcoming February issue of Wild West Magazine. We touch on all manner of topics relating to my favorite subject … me! Oh, and writing, travel, books, research, and why my novel, STRANDED, would make a great film … ahem, Hollywood?

The interview is online now at Wild West Magazine’s website, and will be in the upcoming print edition, too.


The Outfit (Book 2): Blood and AshesTHE OUTFIT (BOOK 2): BLOOD AND ASHES
Hot off the presses and up for grabs!

That’s right, folks, THE OUTFIT, aka, that bar-brawling, wrong-righting, cigar-chomping gang of malcontents—Rafe Barr, Cookie McGee, Black Jack Smith, Doc “Deathbed” Jones, and more!—just thundered back into town and boy, have they been busy since kicking keisters and taking names in The Outfit (Book 1) To Hell and Back.

They’re faced with a threat they thought they’d long ago stomped to death: a clot of Confederate die-hards called The Brotherhood of the Phoenix, whose rallying cry is: “The South shall rise from the ashes, reborn!” And to mark its snaky rebirth, they’ve staged a gambling tournament … and a lynching, with President Ulysses S. Grant as the soon-to-be-swingin’ guest of honor!

Stakes are high and the men bet all hoping to save the President, and prevent the rebirth of a scourge long thought dead. Will THE OUTFIT arrive in time to extinguish the rising flames of villainy and hatred?

Gaaah! But wait! How does it end? Click on, my friends….


The Outfit (Book 2): Blood and Ashes CoverThat’s right, chums, that bar-brawling, wrong-righting, cigar-chomping gang of malcontents I introduced in October, 2016, in THE OUTFIT (Book 1): TO HELL AND BACK are riding hard and taking chances in the sequel, THE OUTFIT (Book 2): BLOOD AND ASHES, which releases on October 18th in hardcover. (Hey, that’s next month!)

Here’s the lowdown:

Life at the Barr-McGee ranch has settled into a pleasant lull of work and rest for members of THE OUTFIT. But big Rafe Barr stews about his wife and son’s murderer, and leaves to search for resolution, revenge, reckoning. Meanwhile, Black Jack Smith attends a high-stakes poker tournament in Santa Fe, where he encounters the powerful covert Brotherhood of the Phoenix. The group plans to make good on its rallying cry: “The South shall rise from the ashes, reborn!” in a brutal public lynching—with visiting President Ulysses S. Grant as its swinging centerpiece. Rafe and Cookie ride for Santa Fe with Doc in tow, driving his latest invention, Ethel the War Wagon. Stakes are high and the men bet all hoping to save the President, and prevent the rebirth of a scourge long thought dead. Will THE OUTFIT arrive in time to extinguish the rising flames of villainy and hatred?

High-Mountain Love for STRANDED!

STRANDEDTwo new rave reviews of STRANDED are stomping all over the finest newsstands now.

The first, from Big Sky Journal:

“… puts the reader in Riker’s well-worn shoes. Her story … has an authentic and moving voice … meticulous research and matter-of-fact reporting … a compelling read … each chapter deals with the minute details of a day of survival. Flights of fancy are few, and the immediacy of her peril grabs the reader on every page.”
—Erin H. Turner, Big Sky Journal
(Click here for the full review:

The next, from Outside Bozeman:

For fans of … Gary Paulsen, Michael Punke, and Jack London…. a fantastic tale of adventure for young and old readers alike. Mayo tells a brutal coming-of-age story … made me feel as if I was there with Janette, in her sorrow and fear, and I could not stop reading until I reached the end. Mayo brings us into Janette’s amazing tale of survival and her pursuit of hope. Stranded is a fluid and charismatic anecdote, the tale of a hardship that hopefully no one will have to willingly endure.
—Emma Nord, Outside Bozeman
(Click here for the full review:

Great new review of STRANDED!

STRANDEDA circulation librarian (with discerning taste!) in Peoria, Illinois, posted a rave review of my new novel, STRANDED, as part of Fondulac District Library’s “FDL Reads” program.

Here’s the link:

And here’s an excerpt:

Powerful, raw, awe-inspiring.”

“This book has a Western sticker on the spine, but if you’re not a fan of westerns, do not let that put you off reading this book! Stranded is an adventure tale above all. Told in the form of a diary kept by Janette Riker, this is actually based on a true story. Janette Riker was left behind to guard the wagon when her father and two brothers went off to hunt. When they didn’t return, she had to find a way to survive the winter. The real Janette didn’t keep a diary, but if she had, it may have been filled with grit and determination, just like this book.”

“Rating: 5 out of 5”

(Grateful and tickled as I am, my only quibble with the review is with its designation as a book for adults. The book is intended for younger readers—fans of Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet—on up to adults! Aw heck, give it a go—I’d love to hear from you!)

Countdown … Over! STRANDED is Officially Released Today

STRANDEDIt is, May 17, 2017, official release day of my new novel, STRANDED: A STORY OF FRONTIER SURVIVAL. As with so many things in life, the lead-up has threatened to eclipse the moment. In STRANDED’s case, momentum has built steadily and I am quite pleased by early reviews praising the book. Here’s a sampling (note my lack of humility):

“This is Mayo’s best book yet.”

“… one of the BEST books I’ve ever read…. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED is an understatement!”

“A remarkable, must-read novel.”

Stranded has the feel of a classic….”

“Highly recommended.”

“A riveting read from the very first compelling sentence to the last.”

“… his finest work of fiction to date….”

It’s not too late to find out for yourself—the book’s available at various online outlets (and still at a discounted price!). Or why not pester your librarian to order a copy for your local community?

Order your copy today: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Powell’s