After finishing school he did an apprenticeship as a painter and then worked for three years in a tool factory. Inspired by his interest in history, politics, educational issues, theatre and literature, he decided he wanted to become a teacher. He took evening classes to qualify for university entrance, studied to be a teacher and then taught for eight years at various secondary schools. At the same time he wrote stories and poems.
His first texts were published in 1978. Since then, Mai has been very productive, with more than 100 books published. He has become known mainly for his early reading books as well as novels for children and adolescents.