Author of Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution, etc.

Biographical Note -Interviews ~ Reviews +News Roundup+ Contact

An El Paso, Texas native raised in Northern California and educated at the University of Chicago, C.M. Mayo is an independent scholar and award-winning essayist, novelist, poet, and translator of contemporary Mexican literature. The author of several books, most recently, Meteor, which won the Gival Poetry Award, Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution and the novel The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire. She is also host of the long-standing lit-blog, Madam Mayo, and the Marfa Mondays Podcasting Project. Her work has appeared in numerous literary magazines, among them, Creative Nonfiction, Kenyon Review, Letras Libres, Literal, and Paris Review. In 2017 she was elected to the Texas Institute of Letters.

Her most recent book, a paradigm-exploding and profoundly researched examination of the esoteric philosophy of the leader of Mexico's 1910 Revolution, is Metaphysical Odyssey Into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and his Secret Book, Spiritist Manual. In 2015 it won the National Indie Excellence Award for History.

Visit the book's webpage


"In my fifteen years of researching the life of President Francisco I. Madero, I have never read a more complete book as the one just written by C.M. Mayo. It will simply surprise any reader. The research is impeccable and the narrative well-rounded."
Manuel Guerra de Luna, author of Los Madero: La Saga Liberal

"Mayo does a brilliant job combining the known facts of the Mexican Revolution and Madero's role within it, and creates an intellectual bridge to the president's spiritist belief structure...With her translation of the Spiritist Manual, C.M. Mayo opened this incredible window into the metaphysical side of the Mexican Revolution"
Heribert von Feilitzsch, author of In Plain Sight: Felix Sommerfeld, Spymaster in Mexico

"Ever astonishing are the greats whose inner tracks wholly diverge from their renown. Such a case is Francisco I. Madero, first president of Mexico after the 1910 revolution, whose political genius was immersed in mysticism, and equally extraordinary is C. M. Mayo's account of this paradox in Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution. Threading the tortuous path of Madero from birth to assassination, and culminating in the first translation into English of the little-known Spiritist Manual of this master of statecraft, Mayo's account brings to life the duality of the singular founder of Mexican democracy."
Bruce Berger, author of The Telling Distance: Conversations with the American Desert

C.M. Mayo's previous books include the novel The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, which was selected as one of the best books of 2009 by Library Journal; the widely-lauded travel memoir, Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California, the Other Mexico, and Sky Over El Nido, which won the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction.


"I have read a few sweeping historical novels that have remain inside of me forever. Tolstoy's War and Peace is one of those, Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities is another, Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago is another, and now The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire is another." James Tipton, Mexico Connect

"a swashbuckling, riotous good time, befitting the fairy-tale promise of the opening sentence"
Austin American-Statesman

Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California, the Other Mexico
"With elegant prose and an artist's eye for detail, Mayo may just have written one of the best books ever about Baja California. Highly recommended" Library Journal

"A remarkable literary debut... tautly fashioned prose, alive with myriad turns of phrase as on-target as they are idiosyncratic." Publisher's Weekly (starred review)

"C.M. Mayo writes some of the most exquisitely fashioned, perfectly measured prose alive in the world today. Her stories glitter with delicious odd details. They feel electrically charged, richly mysterious, and rhythmic. I love her layering of cultures, her offbeat humor, her potent instinct for voices. Bravo! Captivating! Yes, yes, yes!" Naomi Shihab Nye

MEXICO: A Traveler's Literary Companion
"This is a book to throw in a suitcase or mochila (backpack) on the way to Mexico or just settling into a favorite patio chair. It will open your eyes, fill you with pleasure and render our perennial vecinos a little less distante." Los Angeles Times Book Review

Founding editor of Tameme, the bilingual Spanish/English) chapbook press, Mayo is also a translator of contemporary Mexican poetry and fiction. Her anthology of Mexican fiction in translation, Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion, was published by Whereabouts Press in March 2006. Her most recent literary translations include short works by stories by Agustín Cadena, Alvaro Enrigue, Mónica Lavín, Roe Mary Salum, and Ignacio Solares.

stories, essays and poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and literary magazines, including Chelsea, Cenizo Journal, Creative Nonfiction, Kenyon Review, Literal, North American Review, Massachusetts Review, Paris Review, Southwest Review, Tin House and Witness, as well as the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal.

Her most recent long essay, now available on
Kindle, is "Dispatch from the Sister Republic or, Papelito Habla," about the Mexican literary landscape and the power of the book.

In addition to the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, C.M. Mayo's recognitions include include three Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Awards and three Washington Independent Writers Awards, most recently for her essay, "From Mexico to Miramar or, Across the Lake of Oblivion." She has also been awarded residencies at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, Ragdale Foundation, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and (for Sky Over El Nido) fellowships from the writers conferences at Wesleyan, Sewanee, and Bread Loaf. Her latest book, Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution, was awarded the Nation Indie Excellence Award for History.

C.M. Mayo's work has been reviewed in publications as diverse as the Los Angeles Times, Publisher's Weekly, and Letras Libres (Mexico's leading cultural magazine), and she has been interviewed on National Public Radio, The Book Show on WETA, for Inside Mexico, and elsewhere.

She has given uncounted talks over the course of five book tours, she has given uncounted talks at venues including the
Library of Congress, the Angela Peralta Theater for PEN San Miguel, the US-Mexico Center at UCSD, Stanford University's Bolivar House, noted independent bookstores such as Austin's Book People, Silicon Valley's Kepler's, and Pasadena's Vroman's, and book festivals (the Texas Book Festival, Fall for the Book, and Mexico's Feria Internacional de Libros, among many others).

In 2015 she delivered the Centennial Lecture for the University of Texas El Paso,
"On Writing About Mexico: Secrets and Surprises."

View her events schedule, upcoming and archived

One of the pioneers of literary blogging, Mayo launched began Madam Mayo in 2006, and she continues to post on Mondays and oftentimes more often. In 2014 she gave a talk for the Associated Writing Programs Conference in Seattle on "Writers' Blogs: Eight Conclusions After Eight Years of Blogging."

She also maintains a research blog on Mexico's Second Empire / French Intervention, and has two archived blogs, Giant Golden Buddha & 364 More Free 5 Minute Writing Exercises and Reading Tolstoy's War & Peace.

Her many guest-blogs have appeared in Large-hearted Boy, Beatrice.com, Book Drunkard, Cool Tools, Hist Fic Chick, and elsewhere.


Click to visit the main page with all podcasts

Mayo began podcasting in
2009, with her lecture at the Library of Congress on the archival research behind her novel, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire. Mayo has since posted some 40 podcasts. In addition to those about her books and for her writing workshop students, Mayo now hosts an occasional series, Conversations with Other Writers, and the Marfa Mondays Podcasting Project, which is apropos of a book-in-progress about Far West Texas.

C.M. Mayo has been a member of the faculty of the Bethesda, MD Writer's Center since 1999; she continues to teach occasional one day workshops at the Writer's Center on fiction and literary travel writing. Over the years she has also given workshops for the Johns Hopkins Part-Time Program in Writing; the Bread Loaf Writers Conference (as a fellow); the Writer's Center's "Publish Now!" seminar; the Maryland Writers Association Conference; and the San Miguel de Allende Writers Conference in Mexico, among many others.
Visit C.M. Mayo's workshop page, with the schedule of upcoming workshops, and a rich array of resources for writers.

Talks by C.M. Mayo (most recently, for the Women Writing the West annual conference).

Mayo is founding editor of Dancing Chiva, a publisher specializing in Bajacaliforniana; esoterica; Maximiliana; works for writers; and selected works of her own.
View Dancing Chiva's catalog
Read an interview with C.M. Mayo about Dancing Chiva by Jada Bradley for in-Reads.

Work-in-progress includes World Waiting for a Dream: A Turn in Far West Texas, apropos of which she is hosting the Marfa Mondays Podcasting Project, and a novel.
Listen to Marfa Mondays #10 "A Visit to Swan House"

American Literary Translators Association
Authors Guild
Biographers International
Center for Big Bend Studies (Lifetime member)

Texas Institute of Letters
Women Writing the West