Monday, November 30, 2020

Aimee Mayo Interview - Talking to the Sky

Photo Content from Aimee Mayo

Aimee Mayo is a Grammy-nominated songwriter and author. Talking to the Sky is Mayo's first book, 13 years in the making.

Mayo grew up in Gadsden, Alabama, and moved to Nashville at age twenty to write songs, which turned into waiting tables. At 23, she had Her first song on the radio "Places I've Never Been” by Mark Wills. Since then, her songs have spent twenty-six weeks in the #1 spot on the Billboard charts and albums featuring her songs have sold over 155 million units worldwide.

Throughout Aimee's nomadic childhood, she never lived anywhere for long. She bounced between her grandparents' homes in Gadsden, Alabama, and changed schools eleven times before fourth grade.

Aimee wrote her first song at the age of 8 with her father, Danny Mayo, a few months after her parent's divorce. According to her mother, Aimee always had a notebook with her and was obsessed with writing poetry.

As a teen, Aimee was surrounded by music. Her late father wrote hits for numerous country artists. Her brother Cory Mayo went on to write "You'll Be There," a hit for George Strait.

Mayo is one of the few females to receive both BMI's Country Song of the Year, and BMI's Country Songwriter of the Year— putting her in the company of— Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift, and Loretta Lynn.

"Amazed," recorded by Lonestar that same year, is her most popular song to date. In 2004 it garnered an 8 Million Plays award from BMI, vaulting it into the top 125 songs in the BMI catalog out of 6.5 million works. "Amazed" also won ACM (Academy of Country Music) Song of the Year, NSAI Song of the Year, and crossed over to the pop charts and spent two weeks at the top of the Hot 100.

Mayo's song "This One's for the Girls," recorded by Martina McBride, went on to be a theme song for the morning show "The View." Aimee was also a judge on the TV show, "Can You Duet."

Mayo has penned songs for Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Blake Shelton, Adam Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Faith Hill, Sara Evans, Backstreet Boys, Kellie Pickler, Caitlyn Smith, Boys to Men, and many more.

Aimee lives in Nashville, with her husband songwriter Chris Lindsey and their three children.


The greatest thing you learned in school.
I think the greatest thing I learned in school was how to make friends.
Throughout my elementary years, we moved constantly. Everywhere we went, I was the new kid and that forced me to take the scary chance to talk to people I didn't know.

One of my oldest friends still laughs about the first words I said to her on the first day of fifth grade. She was showing the girl that sat behind me how cool her fuzzy colored pencils were and I asked, "Can I feel?"

There were giant gaps in my education. I was crazy-quick at Math and knew more than any student in my school about literature— Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, etc. I read so much Shakespeare, the dialect in my dreams, changed —- how art ...dost thou ... thee's. My teachers always encouraged my writing. At the same time, I was confused about a lot of stuff— I thought Vatican City was where Batman lived, that New England was in Europe; I had never heard the word Caucasian.

What inspired you to pen your first novel?
I think this story started when I was eight years old. I got my first diary on Christmas Eve, thirty minutes after the most traumatic event of my childhood. It seems like serendipity to me now that the gift I unwrapped that night was paper and a pen— and also that When my house burned down in 11th grade, the only thing that survived was my metal trunk of diaries.

For me, nothing feels real until I write it down.

Writing became a compulsion; it was my coping mechanism mand most self-soothing habit. I filled journals and probably went through a forest of paper. (I'm getting ready to donate to plant a hundred trees.)

When my dad died way too young in such a shocking way — that's what lit the spark for the actual book. He was one of the most colorful characters I've ever met in my life. I didn't want to forget him or the world we shared together. Whether you consider yourself a writer or not, I don't know that there's a better way to figure out how you feel than to write it down.

Tell us your latest news.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.

My latest news is also my most rewarding experience so far since being published. I got an incredible and emotional email from Jeanette Walls, the author of my favorite memoir, "The Glass Castle." She said we were kindred spirits and that she related with my memoir deeply just as I connected with hers. That was a full-circle moment for me.

Her memoir and Augusten Burroughs, "Running with Scissors," were my guideposts throughout writing my book. I wanted my story to be as good and real and funny and sad as their books. Having blurbs from both of them and knowing that they love my book is one of the most rewarding experiences so far. Along with the feedback I've had from strangers. A gruffy man in his late sixties said, "your book healed me in a way."

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
My deepest dream is for the book to inspire people who feel lost in their lives, people who are afraid to go after their dream because it seems impossible. And to empower people stuck in abusive relationships to find a way out. I want to leave the reader full of faith and ready to take action — knowing if I did this, they can do it too.

In your new book; TALKING TO THE SKY, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
It's a story of growing up in a fatalistic factory town in Alabama and dreaming of becoming a songwriter.
A line I love from the book —
"Generations of women in my family were born on a carousel of abuse. They came into this world with a painted pony waiting, a saved seat on the sad ride that their lives would become. These women didn't live— they survived."
I wanted a different kind of life than I witnessed growing up. Throughout my teenage years, I dreamed in diaries and planned my great escape. But at nineteen, I realized I was just as trapped as they were. I almost ended my life before it had even begun.
Finally, I made it to Nashville and repeated the patterns of what felt normal to me. I impulsively married a man who could have killed me.
A comment someone said about the book that I loved is "It's a story for dreamers."

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
The single worst distraction was my OCD with writing and my problems with punctuation. I wrote and rewrote this book for almost fifteen years. I wrote the first chapter thousands of times. I was drowning in different drafts. My world was kind of like that movie, "A Beautiful Mind" with words instead of math.

What chapter was the most memorable to write and why?
They were all memorable. I think I've got the whole book memorized.

What's the most ridiculous fact you know?
DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME is a bunch of bullsh!t. It blows me away that we are still doing something every year, that everybody hates, that's confusing AF and that nobody knows why we are doing. Some people think it's got something to do with farmers ( they hate it too.) Some people think it has something to do with saving energy— it actually costs 1% more. The Monday after we "fall back" there are between 10 -15% more heart attacks, auto accidents, and strokes. It makes insomnia worse-- messes up our internal clocks and animals.
I know way too much about this— my husband always says— "oh my Lord, don't get her started on daylight savings time." But, just so you know, The idea for DST was introduced in the late 1700s to save candle wax and was first implemented by Germany in 1916 during WW I to conserve the use of coal for trains.
Living in Tennessee-- in the summer, the sun goes down around 8 PM. then November comes around and we turn the clock back and it starts getting dark not long after the kids come home from school. It makes about as much sense to change the thermostats for five months at 2:00 AM. So I think it's mental and ridiculous that we change the clocks.

Best date you've ever had?
The best date I've ever had was actually with my whole family. It was one of those nights where the whole world feels right— I was with the people I love most in the world and the ocean, the stars, the conversation and taste of the salty air, and foreign disco music playing in the distance was surreal. It's also a scene in the book. So I don't want to give it all away. I told my son the other day —" that was the best night of my life," and he said – "so far."

When you looked in the mirror first thing this morning, what was the first thing you thought?

OMG. My hair looks like Sonic the Hedgehog. During this pandemic, I sometimes go days without looking in the mirror.

Do you ever dance even if there's no music playing?
Being a songwriter- there is usually music playing in my head and I like to sing and dance around a lot like an idiot when I'm by myself.

Choose a unique item from your wallet and explain why you carry it around.
A two-dollar bill. I love two dollar bills and they remind me of my dad. And one of those little magnifying cards so you can read stuff. I wrecked my eyesight writing this book.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
About ten years ago, I got kind of obsessed with Adam Lambert, a contestant on American idol.
(Freddie Mercury is my favorite singer, and Adam was the first person I had seen since that could pull off the rock opera anthem kind of songs. He now tours with Queen world-wide.

Anyway— I wanted on that record so bad -as bad as I had ever wanted on a record (aside from the first song❤I had recorded.) 

He was on the cover of Rolling Stone before he put any music out. I had never seen anything like it.
I talked about how much I loved his voice and wanted him to sing one of my songs on Twitter all the time.
There was an American Idol blog so fans could keep up with him in the studio. There was a list of all the famous artists he was working with: Pink, Sia and all the biggest pop songwriters from all over the world. At the bottom of the list it read—Desperately trying to get a song on his record Aimee Mayo.

I was kind of embarrassed and also elated that I was in the article at all. For some reason, I believed it could happen even though everyone in Nashville thought I was nuts. Then out of the blue, I got a phone call that Ryan Tedder, the lead singer of the rock band OneRepublic, wanted to write with my husband and I. My first thought was, how in the hell does this guy know I exist. My second was— I'm gonna get a song on Adam's record with him.

So long story short, we got together and Ryan wanted to write a country song, but I begged him to do something for Adam Lambert. He didn't know who Adam was, but we made a deal to write a pop song and a country song and stayed up all night.

A few months later, Adam Lambert recorded our song "Sleepwalker."

It was a great lesson for me that you have to believe something can happen for it to happen. It changes every choice you make.

What is one unique thing are you afraid of?
Fire. I burned my house down and my car burst into flames with me in it and almost blew me to smithereens. So, cigarettes, candles, anything that can start a fire— freaks me out.

What was the best memory you ever had as a writer?
A phone conversation with one of my heroes, Maya Angelo— the first thing she said was, "I'm so happy the deciding genies
s have put us together." Her voice sounded like God-- if God was a woman. She thanked me for writing the song "This One's for the Girls" and said it was empowering for all girls and women everywhere. I was planning to go to North Carolina to write a song with her, but her health went downhill before we could get together.

Where can readers find you?
On Amazon and Bookshop and hopefully a bunch of other book stores soon.

It might —
  • 1.Make you laugh
  • 2. Make you cry
  • 3. Make you feel less alone
  • 4. Inspire you
  • 5. Empower you
  • 6. Make you go after your dream
  • 7. We're in a pandemic
  • 8. Smart people and billionaires read.
  • 9.I think the only book that took longer was the Bible.
  • 10. Memoirs have enlightened me and stuck with me more than any other genre. It's like you get to live inside someone else's head and see life through their perspective. They enlighten you in a way that fiction rarely can.
As Joan Didion said- "We tell ourselves stories in order to live."


I could write a book about the crazy shit I've been through writing my book, Talking to the Sky. It's been a soul-testing, heart-wrecking, mind-bender journey through the process. I've had a spiritual breakdown, got TMJ, and my eyesight just pretty much just said, "F U", and left. I'm dyslexic with commas. My OCD went into overdrive, and every day that I sat down to write, I started over on the chapter I had been working on the day before because I knew I could do it better.

This went on and on and on. I struggled with paralyzing self-doubt and fought that little nonstop fucker in my head that wouldn't shut up. "You don't know what you're doing. You're never going to finish this book. You've wasted over a decade and everybody thinks you're fucking crazy."
I got to the point where I couldn't even talk about my book without crying. I didn't want to do it anymore. Even when I begged God to take the dream out of my heart, it didn't budge.

I went everywhere I could think of for help: Oprah, Harper Lee (we corresponded for over a year.) I attended three Tony Robbins seminars — we had a showdown, breakdown, cussing. crying, screaming-match, that was incredible! And I walked on fire.
I jumped out of an airplane about eight months ago, trying to work through my fear of letting it go. But what finally did it for me was I realized my kids had been watching me work on this book for most of their lives, and not finishing it would have been more heartbreaking than the fear it wasn't good enough.

An unforgettable, harrowing yet hilarious story about growing up in the midst of chaos by award-winning songwriter Aimee Mayo.

Aimee Mayo grew up in deep Alabama, rocked by the blow of a drunk man's fist before she even made it out of the womb. Her colorful and charismatic father went from a gambling janitor to a multi-millionaire, but died homeless. Her mother was wonderful when she wasn't popping pain pills like M&M's and her stepdad made a weird science out of psychological abuse. Throughout her teens, Aimee survived by writing compulsively in diaries, dreaming of becoming a songwriter and finding her soulmate.

After accidentally burning down her house—just one in a series of disasters—at twenty years old she found herself lost with no path to the life she had always longed for. She tried to kill herself and almost succeeded.

Finally, Aimee made it to Nashville. She started out a waitress, married to a wife-beating country singer, but never lost sight of her dreams. Talking to the Sky is her unforgettable memoir, the harrowing and hilarious story of believing in faith over fear and going after your dreams when everything is going against you.

You can purchase Talking to the Sky at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you AIMEE MAYO for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Talking to the Sky by Aimee Mayo.