Connecting to the West | Mark Maynard

Mark Maynard’s book, “Grind,” seems to contain insider information about the Northern Nevada area and people. If you’ve ever been to a ski resort, gambled in Reno or have admired the wild mustangs, then this is a book that may resonate with you.

Maynard, a former Reno-Tahoe journalist turned creative writer, grew up in Incline Village, Nev. He was always into reading and writing; he studied English throughout school and was usually ingesting two to three books at a time. After graduating from Incline High School, he moved to San Diego for his undergraduate studies, spent a few years in San Francisco and moved back to the area in 2000. He worked as a journalist, editor and online manager, researching and writing stories about the people, places and experiences around him, which ultimately gave him fuel for his short-story collection, “Grind.”

He worked as a journalist, editor and online manager, researching and writing stories about the people, places and experiences around him, which ultimately gave him fuel for his short-story collection, “Grind.”

In 2003, Maynard taught at Truckee Meadows Community College part time for the flexibility teaching gave him as a stay-at-home dad. While he enjoyed teaching for the social aspect and because he could inspire future writers, Maynard also wanted to improve his writing skills. He entered a low-residency, creative writing master’s program at Antioch University Los Angeles where he worked on “Grind.”

“Most of my creative writing was done at home and then we went to L.A. every semester for my residency work. It was a great chance to see if I could really be a writer,” he says, adding that he had to be much more self-disciplined when faced with that much alone time.

While working on his master’s degree, Maynard started writing stories that were published in magazines before he ever thought of collecting them into a book. It took him five years to form his collection that was published by Torrey House Press in 2012. His debut work won him the 2015 Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Silver Pen. The book experienced resurgence in popularity when it was selected by the Nevada State Library and Archives as a Nevada Reads Book.

“It was kind of a slow roller, but it’s really kept its legs with the Nevada Hall of Fame Silver Pen and being named the Nevada Reads Book [last year],” he says. “With its revival, my publisher put it in a second printing. Torrey Press’s focus is writing about the American West and I believe that to date, ‘Grind’ is its most urban book.”

His favorite writers — Edward Abbey, Raymond Carver and other notable American West writers — inspired Maynard. He wanted his book to connect to the American West, which is why he chose the final story to be a man on a horse riding off into the sunset.

During the 2016-17 Nevada Reads season, “Grind” was featured in libraries and bookstores all over the state and Maynard gave 15 readings. He is now focused on writing his first novel about the Walker River/Twin Lakes region in the late 19th to early 20th centuries.

“It will be heavily researched; I’ve been working on it for a couple of months and now that I’m out of school, I want to focus on getting a couple of chapter drafts done,” he says.

Maynard has a short story about Tahoe, titled “Fishing With Charo,” published in the “Tahoe Blues: Short Lit on Life at the Lake” anthology. Still, he finds that he enjoys the challenge of researching other places.

“Writing about Tahoe feels too close to home. And the Tahoe where I grew up is so different than what it is today,” he says.

Along with working on his first novel, Maynard will have a collection of essays on Clint Eastwood coming out in early 2018 and will also be one of the writers in Reno Artown’s Literary Death Match on July 13 when writers will go head to head in a boxing ring.

“It’s a cross between a reading and ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ ” says Maynard. The match begins at 7 p.m. and will be held at Reno’s historic Trocadero Room inside the El Cortez Hotel.

For more information, visit markmaynard.info

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Kayla Anderson
Kayla Anderson is a freelance writer, marketer and action sports enthusiast who has spent the last 10 years in North Lake Tahoe snowboarding, hiking and wake surfing. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Chico State University and loves being out on the lake as often as she can.