Ladies and Gentlemen – Mr. Max Anderson!!
Since I gave you a small bio on him a couple of days ago, let’s jump right in, shall we?
Why did you start writing?
Since I had grown up as a reluctant reader, I believed there might be many other boys today who didn’t like to read. After looking at about 200 books in the library and bookstores, I discovered many of the reasons why I hadn’t enjoyed reading as a boy. So I set out to see if I could write something I would have enjoyed reading back them.
How did you start writing?
This began with a prompting actually. It wasn’t an audible voice, just a prompting in my mind. It said, “Why don’t you write ‘The Scarecrow?’” “The Scarecrow” was a screenplay I’d written nearly thirty years before, but it had never been produced. No matter how hard I tried to ignore this prompt, it wouldn’t leave me alone. Finally one day I said, right out lout, “Fine, I’ll write ‘The Scarecrow.’” This was a painful process for me, involving multiple drafts, but what happened after that was a flood of new ideas, and stories that seemed to arrive fully formed, just waiting to be written.
How did you select your genre?
Remembering my childhood, and how difficult reading had been for me, I decided to try and help just one young boy to change from a reluctant reader to someone who could enjoy books.
What is your writing day like?
I usually don’t start writing until early evening. Normally I’d start around 6 PM, and write for about five hours. I never start a chapter I won’t finish in that session, and I never start a book that I won’t finish. I always burn a candle when I’m writing, and I play mood appropriate music for the scene I’m writing. If the scene is funny, I play comedy music, if it’s sad, I might play music from a single violin or piano. The music helps me see pictures of what is happening within each scene. I’ve taken this a step further and made a presentation for schools that surrounds the use of mood appropriate music http://www.maxbooks.9k.com/whats_new.html
Something unique happened while I was writing “Legend of The White Wolf.” I began writing around six in the evening, as usual, but the next thing I knew, the sun was coming up again. I just kept on writing for three days because I couldn’t wait to see how the story would turn out. In a way, it was like watching a movie for the first time.
How do you organize your writing? (outlines/note cards/post-its)
As I said earlier, the stories tend to arrive fully formed. By that I mean that I know who the main character is, where he lives, and what the moral, character, ethical, or spiritual issues will be, along with the beginning, middle, and end of the story. It’s hard to describe, but this is the way it has happened with thirty-five manuscripts so far. After I’ve been bombarded with those impressions, I take a recorder and tell myself the story. As my children were growing up, I used to tell them original stories, at night, all the time. I found that this background helped me to do the present day storytelling now. As I’m recording the story, I visualize telling it to my kids when they were small. In addition, with a lifetime of film, television commercial, and video production work, I find it very easy to visualize my stories, settings, and characters.
What’s the most surprising thing a character has “told you”?
The most surprising was when a character showed up in a story totally unexpected. She was a little, old woman, and her introduction became the center of the quest for my main character. That book is “Newspaper Caper.”
Do you have a list of characters that you’re saving for future use? What kind of information do you keep on these characters?
Not really. Characters tend to be revealed along with each new story. But when they do arrive, and this happens with secondary characters too, I create a list next to the computer so I can keep everyone straight, and give certain quirks, descriptions, and attributes to each. I also find that a core group of friends and “characters” from my childhood tend to find their places in my stories too.
What does your work space/office look like?
Here’s a picture of it. I’ve converted my son’s old bedroom into my writing space. (see jpeg attached)
NOTE: I tried and tried and tried to get it to load here, but was unsuccessful 🙁
What is your go-to snack when writing?
It’s usually within a range of granola bars, a banana, a peanut bar, or those cheese crackers with peanut butter between them.
If you could only recommend one NOVEL, what would it be? Why?
Again, because I don’t read much for pleasure, I have a very short list of books to choose from. I don’t even like to read my own books after they’ve been published. But a year ago, I heard about “The Alchemist,” and enjoyed reading it because the style of storytelling seemed much like my own.
If you could only recommend one CRAFT book (writing, no crocheting), what would it be? Why?
When I began writing, at the end of 2001, I went to the library and checked out nearly every book they had about writing. This required three separate trips with three separate, tall stacks of books on the subject. What was interesting was to see how many different points of view you can find on some of the same, basic writing questions. “Do this.” “Don’t do that.” “Write it this way.” “Don’t write it that way.” So what I looked for was consensus on the major issues. My first manuscript, “The Scarecrow,” is a funny example of how I did it all wrong. I didn’t realize that my age group required a single point of view, and that it was best for that to be of the main character. I had approached the story as if it were a film script, where things were happening all over the place, including situations that could not be observed or heard by the main character. Several of my mentors quickly set me straight on that one. I’d suggest that new writers take a similar approach, and saturate their minds with as much material as they can find.
What I would recommend are two books. If you write for the Christian market, you need “Christian Writers’ Market Guide.” More general market writers would find “Writer’s Market” or “Children’s Writer’s & Illustrators Market” from Writer’s Digest helpful. There are some good magazines too like The Writer, or Writer’s Digest.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Someone recently reported that in the US, there are 1,100 books published every single day. That should make anyone stop and think. You might ask yourself, “What is it that would make anyone want to read what I’ve written.” I often tell writers to do a role reversal, and read their material as if they were an agent, an acquisitions editor, or a member of their intended audience, and see how the material looks, sounds, and feels. Writing and publishing is a business, and one should approach it as that from the beginning. But, at least in my case, I am the most at peace when I’m writing. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next in the story. And there is nothing like the joy of holding a copy of a new book in your hands for the very first time…nothing. In addition, to receive positive feedback from readers helps to make the journey worthwhile.
Thank you SO MUCH for spending some time with us today, Max!
If you have a question or comment for Mr. Anderson, please leave a note. And don’t forget – anyone leaving a comment is registered to win a free copy of “Legend of the White Wolf” – woo hoo!