Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Welcome Christian Author, Max Elliot Anderson

Today it is my pleasure to interview a wonderful author of middle grade fiction geared especially for boys age 8 and up. 

Max, your new book sounds like a great read. Is there a story behind WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT?

I speak in elementary schools to students about writing and the life of an author. I found that kids today, in the age group of 8 and up that my books are written for, knew little or nothing about what happened on 9/11. That’s when I decided to write a book to make sure people never forget that day. But When the Lights Go Out isn’t specifically about 9/11. It’s an action-adventure mystery that includes a military base, a secret weapon traveling across the country, and a terrorist plot. Three boys, who live on the base, are caught right in the middle of it all.

What started you on your writing journey?
I grew up as a struggling, reluctant reader. My dad was the author of over 70 books, and I never read them. As an adult, I wanted to find out why this was. Then it was 9/11 that changed my life. My life’s work, up until then, has always surrounded the production of dramatic films, television programs, videos, and commercials. After 9/11, many of my clients stopped calling as their businesses failed, were bought out, or moved away. A period of research showed me why I hadn’t enjoyed reading for most of my life, and why I was more of a visual person. That’s when I began writing the kinds of books I would have enjoyed as a child. Now kids tell me that reading one is like being in an exciting or scary movie – good scary, not dark.

Many people's lives were touched and/or changed after 9/11 and it appears this event has launched you into a career you are very passionate about. Writing takes a lot of long hard hours and focus. Is there anything that distracts you from writing?

Nothing, really. Writing is the most enjoyable thing I’ve ever done in my life. But after writing 35 manuscripts, I stopped writing book-length manuscripts in order to concentrate on securing an agent, finding publishers, and then marketing and promotion. To keep active during this phase, I write a monthly column for Christian FictionMagazine Online  and I’m on the staff of Knowonder Magazine where several of my short stories have already been published. I continue writing those on a regular basis along with maintaining my blog Books and Boys

You are a busy guy! You say you were a reluctant reader. As an adult what kind of books do you enjoy reading?

This is continues to be a difficult subject for me because I still find it a challenge to read for pleasure. I’d rather watch a good dramatic film, or interesting documentary in my spare time. Having written so many manuscripts, and having to read each one many, many times during the publishing process, I’ve probably read more books in the past few years than in all the years previously in my life. It just happens that they’re not written by other people.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? Why?

Probably the main character, Peyton Aldrich, who has just moved onto a new military base, in the middle of nowhere, and he wonders why? His father is the new base commander and Peyton thinks he should be doing much better. Being the new kid, he goes out to find some friends, and the story explodes from there.

If you were a style of music, what style would you be?
I know little about music, technically, but when writing, I’d be mood appropriate music to each scene I’m writing. When I’m not writing, I’m country music, but not bluegrass.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I like to have props around that help me think about the book I’m writing. These things, in addition to playing the mood appropriate music, help to set the mood and tone in my mind. While working on Forest of Fear, a story set in the Pacific Northwest, I went out and caught a chipmunk, placed him in a clear plastic cage and filled the bottom with cedar wood chips. At the end of that day, I let the little guy go, but I wasn’t finished with that section of the book. So, early the next morning, I caught him again. I’m sure he was the same because of some distinct markings. They’re easy to catch since they run into the drainpipe as soon as anyone steps out the front door.

What is your favorite season of the year?
Fall. It isn’t as hot as has summer has been, the colors are beautiful, and the air feels cleaner.

What is a favorite memory from your childhood?
It would have to be the area where I lived from about age three until the 9th grade. We lived in a wooded area of Wolf Lake, Michigan. There was a year-around camp, a big lake, and good friends. We were free to ride our bikes, swim, or roam the vast woods surrounding our house. Several experiences, and characters from those days still find their way into the pages of the books I write for kids 8 and up.

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
I’m not very gifted technically, so I may put some of those tasks off at times.

What's your favorite meal with family and friends?
That’s an easy one. I enjoy shrimp with anything. If there were a favorite, I like to make up my own “secret”  butter sauce, brush that on skewers of shrimp, cut vegetables, and pineapple, and serve it over a steaming bed of white rice. Ummm, my mouth’s watering right now.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?  
Each of my books carries a spiritual theme threaded through the storyline. And my most recent book, The Scarecrow, is the first one to include an evangelistic theme.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you. 
My life verse is 1st Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore you eat or drink or whatsoever you do, do it all to the glory of God.” Though it’s a difficult verse to live up to, it does provide a mark I’m constantly aiming for in my life as a believer, husband, father, grandfather, and author.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
I’ve just signed a 6 book contract with an educational publisher in Toronto. They sell books directly to schools in Canada and the US. The books will also be available through all the other normal traditional channels. Since these books will be sold the public schools, they’ll contain stories about bullies, anti-alcohol, anti-drugs, stealing, honor, and such. Each book will have a student workbook along with other study and work materials. The manuscripts have all been written, so it’ll be a matter of any revisions and changes that the publisher requests.

Beyond that, I’ll be working on book #4 in the Sam Cooper Adventure Series. Port Yonder Press is interested in taking this to possibly 6 books in the series. The first three are already published, Lost Island Smugglers, Captain Jack’s Treasure, and River Rampage.
And I’m working with Comfort Publishing, the publisher of this book, When the Lights Go Out, to finish re-publishing 3 of my older books, and then another new one.

Purchase the book at Amazon

MAX ELLIOT ANDERSON is giving away a copy of WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUTThe giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.


Anonymous said...

Max, it seems that what you are doing is a very good thing. keep up the good works. I think it is so good to get our children to learn to love reading at a young age, and sounds like this will be good for the boys. God bless your work. I'd like a chance to win this book for a great-grandson of mine. Maxie ( mac262@me.com )

Jennifer said...

I will never forget 9/11! Whenever there's a special on TV my husband and I watch it along with our four boys. We explain any questions they have about what happened.
It's very hard to find good books for boys that are exceptable for young christians boys. Keep up the good work!

Carol Ann said...

Max, thank you for being with us today and sharing. May God continue to bless the work you are doing!

Carol Ann said...

I forgot to congratulate you on your 6-book contract!

nylnestill said...

Thank you for the opportunity to win aa commerative book about 911.

Anonymous said...

How awesome you are trying to get kids to read again! I think it would be great to have the tv's off and the books open; by choice!
~Elizabeth N

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