Sunday, March 6, 2011

with Max Elliot Anderson

Welcome to the Barn Door Book Loft, Max!
What started you on your writing journey?

I grew up hating to read, but I had begun writing earlier than I realized. That’s because for years I wrote proposals and scripts for my client video productions and hundreds of television commercials. But it was the events of 9/11 that caused the career change. Most of my clients also experienced severe changes in their businesses resulting in less need for professional video production. It was at this time that I wanted to understand why I had not been an avid reader. My research uncovered several reasons so I began writing the kinds of action-adventures and mysteries that I would have enjoyed as a child.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?
I’m very easily distracted. It’s likely that I’m slightly ADD. I can’t have a TV on in the background, people talking nearby, or music with lyrics playing while I write. Our children are grown so I have the privilege of working in a designated writing room. I close the door behind me and with it, the rest of the world and its distractions. I light a candle which helps me to focus on the task of writing, and then play mood appropriate music to the scene I’m writing. This is instrumental only, but I’ll play spooky music for a scary scene, or comedy music for a funny scene. And I only write the scary stuff after dark.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I’m at a bit of a disadvantage in this area because I didn’t grow up as an avid reader. My father wrote over 70 books and I didn’t bother to read them. But today, with thirty-six completed action-adventure and mystery manuscripts, I spend a considerable amount of time reading galleys, manuscripts, and printed books in the publishing process.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
Good question because there are a few to choose from. When I first saw the question I thought about Mike, the main character. That was quickly followed by thoughts of his little dog Barney. But I think it would have to be Big Bob the clown. Mike only wanted to pretend to run away, but Big Bob was an adult who ran away as a child, and he meant to do it. He has a tragic secret that Mike learns later. Mike’s problem is that he thinks his parents’ discipline means they don’t love him. In trying to teach them a lesson, he finds himself half-way across the country and very lost. Big Bob helps to teach him that we don’t know how good we have it until it’s gone.

If you were a style of music, what style would you be?
Music has played an important part in my life. Since the age of 16, when I shot my first film, I’ve understood how the right music can set the right mood. That’s why I play it as I’m writing to help create the right pictures in my mind. I don’t write to an outline, so music is one of the elements that helps me visualize each scene. And I like all sorts of music. I think I’d be a symphony because of all the elements that have to come together in order to make each book attract and hold young readers.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Not sure how quirky this might be, but I especially enjoy country music and NASCAR. In fact my son, who is an attorney in Chicago, and I travel to the Daytona 500 every year. I used to do some pretty wild things in my film production days, to try to get the talent to crack up on camera, but we won’t get into the specifics.

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
I dislike confrontation, am not much of a fighter, and don’t enjoy an argument. So if there is a situation where one of those is involved, I find it tough and would rather avoid it.

What's your favorite meal with family and friends?
I do quite a lot of the cooking at our house. Probably the most enjoyable meal is one cooked out on the grill and eaten on the patio with our children and their spouses.
My favorite food is shrimp. I can’t give you a recipe because I write by the seat of my pants and cook that way too. I can tell you what’s included in one of my favorites. Shrimp, of course, onion, celery, whatever vegetables we have at the time, cooked in a large pan and seasoned with whatever I feel like at the time. I cook each part separately and place it in its own bowl. Included are scrambled eggs too. Ahead of time I make a big pot of Rice Select Texmati long grain rice. After each item has been cooked, I put them all together and heat them one more time. Each person takes a bowl of rice and tops that with the cooked mix. Variations of this can be made with chicken, pork, or beef…squirrel, rabbit, kangaroo…just kidding!

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
This has been the most important part of my writing process over the past ten years. Each story has come to me, in my mind, fully formed. By that I mean that the main character, setting, plot, and spiritual thrust, all come fully formed. I know the beginning, middle, and end of the story at that time. I may not know much about what happens in between. Each time I’ve grabbed a small recorder and told myself the story, just like I used to tell my children when they were small. Those notes are typed and placed in a file until after the first draft is completed. It’s been amazing to see how different each story is and the variety of spiritual themes. Each story has different characters which allow me to explore different personalities, strengths and weaknesses. One or two of my stories are evangelistic, and the rest run the gamut.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
There are a lot of favorites, but my life’s verse in First Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.” New Living Translation

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
The answer to this question is a little complicated. My first publisher went bankrupt at the end of 2009. I needed to find a new publisher to pick up these titles and to release new material. So along with Barney and the Runaway, which was released on February 1st, Comfort Publishing will republish Newspaper Caper, Terror at Wolf Lake, Mountain Cabin Mystery, Big Rig Rustlers, The Secret of Abbott’s Cave, North Woods Poachers, and Legend of the White Wolf. I’ve contracted nearly 20 titles in all. They are action-adventures and mysteries for readers 8 – 13, especially boys.
The next new book is called When the Lights go Out. In speaking to kids in elementary schools, I discovered that students who are 10, 11, and 12 today know little or nothing about the events of 9/11. When the Lights go Out will help to insure that we never forget what happened on that day and it will be released in time for the 10th anniversary of 9/11 this September.
In addition to these, Port Yonder Press will be releasing Captain Jack’s Treasure which is book #2 in the Sam Cooper Adventure Series. Lost Island Smugglers was book #1 and came out in 2010. These will be followed by River Rampage.

You can purchase Barney and the Runaway from Amazon.

Max is giving away a copy of Barney and the Runaway. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.


Joanne Troppello said...

Sounds like a great book. My nephew would love to read it. Please enter me in your contest. Thanks

Joanne Sher said...

I really think my son would enjoy this book. Please enter me!

Linda Kish said...

I would love to read this book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

lgm52 said...

Interesting interview...would love the book.

Pam K. said...

I think there is a need for good books for boys. Thank you to Max Anderson for filling the void. I'd enjoy winning a copy of "Barney and the Runaway."


windycindy said...

I adore books about people and dogs!
I grew up with an older brother who
was a Veterinarian for over 30 years before he passed on...
Many thanks, Cindi

Meredith said...

Great interview! I'd love to read this book!

meredithfl at gmail dot com

misskallie2000 said...

I would love to read Barney and the Runaway. I love stories with animals. I also know 2 young boys who would love to read about Barney.
Please enter me in giveaway.

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

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