Steven Mayoff’s novel in the running for Amazon award
by Peggy Miles
His book was recently chosen as a Top 100 Semi-finalist for the Amazon.com Breakout Novel Award. His song lyrics have been recorded by Canadian pop singer-songwriter Melanie Doane. He is currently converting one of his works into a screenplay. And this wordsmith lives in the woods of rural Prince Edward Island with a dial-up internet connection.
As I sit down with Steven Mayoff and empathize about the lack of high speed availability in Foxley River, it is clear that Mayoff is content with life.
His novel Destinations and Departures tells a family’s story using varying perspectives and multiple generations. Finishing the book he had worked on for close to 10 years coincided with the Amazon.com contest. Mayoff decided to enter to “just see what happens.” Making it to the Top 100 out of 5,000 entries has bolstered his confidence as a writer and he is now looking for a publisher to take the book to the next level.
Mayoff’s own life is seemingly filled with destinations and departures. Born in Montreal, and having lived in Toronto, he is a self professed “City Boy” who moved to Canada’s smallest province in 2001. His wife (originally from PEI) and her family (who also live in Western PEI) have helped with the transition. Writing on and off for a number of years, moving to the Island resulted in writing becoming Mayoff’s “definite focus in life.” He held a vision that “writing life was always going to be somewhere in the country, somewhere quiet looking at trees.”
Mayoff’s resume is diverse and includes novels in progress, poems, short stories, and he has written dramas for CBC Radio and contributed as a writer and lyricist for plays and musicals. Mayoff says that he has a visual style and aims to write in such a way that his readers can “smell the smells,” and see and hear what’s going on within a story.
I ask him how he feels about his characters. He tells me they are real. “They haunt me,” he jokes. Mayoff tries to show respect to his characters and he strives not to play puppet master. “Part of the craft of writing is listening,” he tells me. “You have to listen to your characters and cultivate a gut instinct.” He acknowledges that when he sits down to the white space of his computer, he doesn’t always know what’s going to happen next. “If it’s not a journey for me, it’s not going to be a journey for my readers.”
Mayoff describes himself as a storyteller. Recognition and seeing his words on paper is rewarding but “it’s the doing that’s the most satisfying part of it.” A final thought Mayoff shares about his success is that he is “at an interesting time where things seem to be happening. I feel very happy, very lucky, very privileged, to be doing what I’m doing.”
For more information on Steven Mayoff, visit his website at www.stevenmayoff.ca.