Monday, March 9, 2009

Author of Note - Max Anderson

Welcome to The Bookshelf, Max! Thank you for taking time to talk with us. But before I start asking a lot of off-the-cuff questions, let’s find out who you are as a person. Please, take a moment to tell us about Max Anderson, the man next door.

I’ve been involved in the production of films, video programs, and television commercials for most of my life. I own my own production company. As a child, I was “killed” while riding my bike, by a hit-and-run driver. But…since the film I was in was being shot in black and white, the blood from my wounds came out of a chocolate syrup bottle. My work has given me the privilege of traveling all over the world.

My wife and I have been married for 40 years and have an adult son and daughter. Our son is an attorney in Chicago and our daughter teaches 2nd grade in the Orlando area.

I’ve followed NASCAR since Jeff Gordon entered the sport. My son and I fly down to the Daytona 500 every year.

I prefer seeing or experiencing things rather than reading about them.

Thanks for sharing - and we're all very glad you survived the chocolate blood! Now that we know you better, let's talk about your books. I know you write action-adventure and mystery, mostly for reluctant reader “tween” boys. What drew you to this particular age group?

Even though my father was the author of over 70 books, I grew up hating to read. Because of this, I was drawn to write material especially for reluctant reader boys.

In my film experience, I knew that girls would watch a boy’s story, but boys were not at all interested in a story with a girl as a main character. I’ve used that same template in my writing and find that my books are enjoyed by girls, reluctant and avid boy readers, and even adults.

It was easier for me to approach a tween audience because life just gets so much more complicated in the teen years. I intend to reach younger children with some of life’s critical principles, before they reach that next level. I also knew that many boys were growing up without a positive male role model, and hope I can have some influence there too.

How many books do you have published, and which is your favorite?

Seven of my action-adventures & mysteries are published, along with a short story in a sports anthology, Lay Ups and Long Shots. I get the, “Which is your favorite?” question from a lot of people. I’ve completed 35 manuscripts at this point. The truth is, some are hard to remember, until I review the manuscript and refresh my memory. But the way I like to respond to this question is to say that my wife and I have two children. I love them each for the unique person that they are. It’s a lot like that with my books. I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite.

If I’m not mistaken, Legend of the White Wolf is your latest release. Tell us about it.

Yes, you’re right.

Writing this book was a unique experience for me. I don’t write from an outline, so I’m finding out about the story as I go. I got so into this story that I finished the first draft in only three days.

About this book I’ve written, “They didn’t call him a liar; they just couldn’t believe his story. Brian Fisher was determined to prove it was true even though it involved the risk to his own safety. His rescue of a wolf pup from a steel trap results in a mysterious relationship with surprising results. The story is set in the lower elevations near Yellowstone.”

It’s kind of a boy-and-his-dog story with a few twists.

How long have you been writing? Was there an “aha” moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

I began shortly after the attacks of 9/11. That’s because many of my video clients pulled back at that time. My business never fully recovered from that, and now it’s happening again, due to the economic tsunami we’re all facing.

I was definitely prompted to write. But rather than an “aha,” I fought against the idea as hard as I could. After all, my father was a reasonably famous author, but out of a family of seven children, I was the only reluctant reader. At first, I felt I had no business writing. I came to see later, after I was obedient to the prompting, that I was perfectly prepared to understand other reluctant readers, and to craft the kinds of stories I would have loved as a child. I hoped that they might love them too.

How much time do you devote to your craft?

I wrote pretty much nonstop for the better part of three years. That’s how I wound up with 35 completed manuscripts. I spend most of my time now in building my platform. I have an agent, Terry Burns at Hartline, and I write short stories and articles.

One of those found its way into Lay Ups and Long Shots, published by Darby Creek. That book is a Junior Library Guild selection and is going into its second printing. It has a nice author bio before my story, and I’ve gotten emails, calls, and letters from that.

Another short story is being held by the editor of Boys’ Life. If it gets published, the magazine represents a circulation of 1,300,000; another excellent opportunity for name recognition with the age group I’m trying to reach. And I’ve had a true story published in Guideposts.

My blog, Books for Boys ranks # 4 on Google. So people are finding me all the time through that source. I try to keep it updated regularly.

But I’d love to be writing more book-length manuscripts. I have a dozen or more I could start. It just doesn’t make much sense to do that before finding homes for the others.

Any advice for new and aspiring writers?

Be realistic about your writing and your objectives. If you’re simply writing like another author, then why would your work be of interest to a publisher? What makes one story stand out over another is your own unique voice. When you read the work of others, try to understand why you are attracted to one book, but not another. That will be because of voice and writing style. Study the work of others, yes, but develop your own style.

Over 200,000 new books are released each year. Ask yourself why yours is going to make it in that environment. And understand that, should you find a publisher, much of the promotion of your book will have to come from you. This is a good thing since no one will ever care about your book as much as you do.

Look for any opportunity to get into print. This may include articles in magazines and on web sites. Some of what you write will earn nothing, or very little, but it will help you to get noticed, and you’ll be writing more material.

Above all, don’t get discouraged. It may take much longer than you expected, but you have to keep at it. Just remember that this is a business you are trying to enter. It’s a field that is highly competitive. It will take every bit of commitment and creativity that you can find within yourself.

Now for that off-the-cuff stuff I mentioned.

If you could ask any person, living or dead, a random question – what question would you ask of whom?

I’d like to walk up, tap Johannes Gutenberg on the shoulder, turn him around, and point to all the books, magazines, and newspapers that have been published since 1439. After he finished rubbing his eyes, I’d ask, “In your wildest dreams?”

What crayon in the box describes you best on a good day? Bad day?

Light blue for the good day, black for the bad.

You’re going on a very long trip. Which of the following will you take with you?

Book: My Bible

Music: Classical

Person: My wife

Food: Shrimp

What word annoys you more than any other?

In the current political climate, I’m beginning to hate the word “transparency.”

What “super power” would you like to borrow for awhile?

I’ve always wished I could fly.

Share a grammatical pet peeve…go ahead, sound off.

Figuring out things like effect and affect, and the fact that some English words, that sound the same, can have several different spellings.

Share a societal pet peeve…here’s your chance to blast ‘em.

It’s sad to watch as our culture becomes less civil. The language that kids use is worse than what I encountered in my two years in the army. Children have less fear of authority, and they don’t mind using four letter words to let you know it.

Thank you for hanging out at The Bookshelf for awhile! We can’t wait to read Legend of White Wolf! When and where can we get it?

Probably the easiest place is on Amazon. But if anyone is interested in signed copies for boys in their family or circle of friends, they can email me at

Where can we find you on the web?

My author web site is at

My Books for Boys blog is at

50 pages of reviews can be found at

I hope my readers run right out and find Legend of the White Wolf, Max – as well as all of your previous releases! I can’t wait to introduce them to my own grandson. Thanks again for being with us on The Bookshelf.

Thank you, I appreciate the opportunity.

About Max Anderson:

Max Elliot Anderson grew up as a reluctant reader. After surveying the market, he sense the need for action-adventures and mysteries for readers 8 – 13, especially boys.

Using his extensive experience in the production of motion pictures, videos, and television commercials, Mr. Anderson brings the same visual excitement and heart-pounding action to his stories. Each book has completely different characters, setting, and plot.

Seven books are published, with an additional twenty-eight manuscripts completed. Young readers have reported that reading one of his books is like being in an exciting or scary movie.

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