Bob Mayer is a New York Times bestselling author and Special Operations veteran. He has written over 80 books including his latest, No Quarter and The Green Beret Guide to Seven Great Disasters (3) and the #1 series Area 51, Atlantis, and The Green Berets. Mayer has presented for over a thousand organizations both in the United States and internationally, including keynote presentations, all-day workshops, and multi-day seminars.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I grew up in the Bronx during the 60s and 70s and that definitely shaped my life. My latest series is actually set there in the late 70s, starting with New York Minute. Son of Sam lurks in the background—he shot a girl I went to elementary school with. The city was pretty much a dump and on the verge of bankruptcy but it also had a special feel.
After that, going to West Point and serving in the Infantry and Special Forces, traveling all over the world, has certainly influenced things.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
Learning that I had Aspergers would have helped me understand myself and deal with many situations better.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
That there are rules. There are no rules; only guidelines. I’m a big believer in the three rules of rule-breaking:
Know the rule.
Have a good reason for breaking the rule.
Take responsibility for breaking the rule.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
When our youngest son died I had just hit the NYT bestseller list. That derailed many things in our life and made me realize what’s important and what isn’t. It is not something you ever recover from.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
Persistence. I just don’t quit. From the time my first book came out in 1991, I doubt there are many from then who are still writing for a living.
What is your morning routine?
The dogs get me up when the sun comes up. I do some business stuff and marketing, then get to work. The morning my best time for writing. I try to break my day up with some physical activity: biking, hiking, or kayaking.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Always pushing ahead. No matter how tough it is, I’m always looking forward. I look at rejection as an opportunity to do something else better.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
The hardest thing for me about being a writer is actually writing. As an indie author, I can get distracted by almost anything. But focusing and writing is the key to success.
I have free ebooks on my freebies page, constantly rotating new titles through. I also have over 200 free, downloadable slideshows there on a range of topics from survival to writing to history to trivia.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
It would be hard to pin down any one title. I spent most of my childhood in the library, devouring books. In all genres and a lot of nonfiction. I feel like almost everything I’ve learned has come from books.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
For living, I like Frank Herbert’s litany on fear.
“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
For being a writer, Terry Gilliam has a great one for people in the arts.
“If you really want your films to say something that you hope is unique, then patience and stamina, thick skin and a kind of stupidity, a mule-like stupidity, is what you really need.”