Welcome back, Max. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
That would have to be the day I was married and the two days, several years later, when our children were born. I was in the army, serving in an armored battalion in Germany, at the time my wife Claudia and I were married. I flew home to the states for our wedding a year earlier than we had planned so we could spend our first year together living in Europe.
Sounds exciting. My grandson spent part of his military service in Germany. How has being published changed your life?
I’ve noticed a couple of things. My life has become even more disciplined than before and I learned that writing a book is the easiest part of the process. It’s what comes after that which represents the truly hard work. Marketing and promotion, along with building a solid platform, consume most of my time when I’m not writing.
What are you reading right now?
Right now I’m in the process of reading galleys and proofing manuscripts for several of my books. A number of them will come out in time for the ICRS convention in Atlanta this summer. At the same time, I’ve written two new ones that my agent will be pitching and those have required a lot of reading as well.
What is your current work in progress?
The most recent title is When the Lights go Out. I’m probably more excited about this one than some of the others because of how it came about, and because of my intent for it with kids. I discovered something over recent months. Part of what I do is to speak in elementary schools. A couple of my previous books touch on what happened on 9/11, but only in passing, as part of a larger plot. As I’ve spoken to students who are 9, 10, and 11 years old, I found that they know little or nothing about the events of 9/11 and what they mean to our country. So I decided to write a book with the purpose of making sure future generations don’t forget what happened. This book will be released in time for the 10th anniversary of 9/11 this September.
Here is how the dedication reads in the front of this book: “To the memory of 9/11, and the people who lost their lives on that day, so we never forget.”
That sounds interesting. What would be your dream vacation?
For most of my life, ever since I was sixteen years old, I’ve traveled the country and the world on film and video productions. That required me to lug “tons” of equipment along wherever I went. Many of the places where I traveled were exotic vacation areas, but I was there to work and couldn’t enjoy that aspect. My dream vacation would be to travel to areas, with my wife, where I had no work responsibilities and could enjoy those locations.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
This depends on the story. Most of the locations come from places where I’ve lived or worked on film and video projects. Still others are determined by where a true story has taken place. Several ideas have come from the news. One publisher wanted a Southern setting, so that was dictated by their request. Most of my books have different characters so this allows the settings to be quite varied.
What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
Aside from writing it would be a toss-up between my coin and stamp collections.
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
There haven’t been any so far. Writing is probably the most enjoyable creative activity I’ve ever experienced. There’s something about disappearing into a world of your own creation and moving around with your characters and situations. You laugh when they say something funny and cry when they hurt. I’ve completed 36 action-adventure & mystery manuscripts, for readers 8 and up, and never experienced writer’s block. If there’s an obstacle, it would have to be in the time it takes for a new book to go through the submissions, selection, and publishing process. Sometimes that feels endless.
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Beginning authors need to come to grips very early with the concept that writing and publishing is a business. It can be hard work at times, and your success may take several years. I believe the days are gone when a writer can function without an agent, but I understand that some people have figured out how to do that. And as I mentioned earlier, writing will be the easiest part. New writers need to be prepared for what comes next.
Tell us about the featured book.
The featured book is called Barney and the Runaway. Summer had no appeal to Mike Ellis. But neither did homework, or class assignments, or self-discipline. He especially disliked his parents always telling him what to do and punishing him when he didn’t. Wanting to teach his parents a lesson, he decides to pretend to run away from home for a day with his dog Barney. His plans go terribly wrong when later he finds himself halfway across the country and very lost. Meeting an old clown who also ran away as a child teaches Mike the importance of home, family, and doing what’s right. But can Mike and Barney save the circus in time?
Sounds exciting. Please give us the first page of the book.
Michael solemnly stood at Mrs. Whitlock’s desk, looking down toward the floor as his teacher held out one of her dreaded yellow envelopes.
“Michael,” his teacher said sternly, “this note is for your parents.”
She studied the boy, who was shifting his feet uncomfortably while standing in front of her. “Now, we both know what this is about. Make sure they read it…both of them. Then bring the note back on Monday…”
Using her most serious voice to emphasize this point, she added, “…and signed.”
Michael took a deep breath, but didn’t say a word.
Monday would be the last day of school before summer vacation.
“If we don’t get this little matter cleared up, you may not be able to continue moving ahead to the next grades with the rest of your friends.” Concerned that he wasn’t taking her seriously, she continued, “Do you
Michael stood in silence, not wanting to intensify her scolding.
“We have to correct these things early.”
Still looking at the floor, he nodded slowly in agreement.
“Good. You’re a smart boy, Michael. However, you need to work on being more disciplined if you expect to make it in this world.”
She took a long, deep breath and exhaled out of her mouth slowly. Drained from the exhaustive nature of this boy since the beginning of the school year, she hoped that he would finally heed her warning. She looked into his eyes for several uncomfortable seconds then finally dismissed him.
Michael jammed the note into his pocket, turned, then shuffled quietly out of the room. He knew that, as soon as his parents saw that note, he was going to be in some serious trouble.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
My Books for Boys Blog is at http://booksandboys.blogspot.com/
My Author Web Site is at http://www.maxbooks.9k.com/
I’m also active on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, ShoutLife, and others+
Thank you, Max, for spending this time with us.
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