Max Elliot Anderson interview with David Alan Binder
Post date: Feb 25, 2016 2:15:50 PM
Max Elliot Anderson interview with David Alan Binder
His bio from Good Reads: Ten middle grade books are published; ten more are under contract, with several additional manuscripts completed. Young readers have reported that reading one of his books is like actually being in an exciting movie. He is also a short story staff writer for Knowonder.com
Good Reads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/210003.Max_Elliot_Anderson
His Father, Ken Anderson has written about 70 books;
1. Where are you currently living?
My home is in Rockford, Illinois
2. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I grew up as a struggling, reluctant reader in spite of the fact that my father published over 70 books during his lifetime. English was not a favorite subject in school and I never even considered writing until about fifteen years ago.
3. How long on average does it take you to write a book?
That’s a tough one. Some of my action-adventures and mysteries for kids take about 3 months from beginning until they’re ready for submission. However, a book that will come out this year, The Sense of Humor, is a project that lasted 9 years. In one case, Legend of the White Wolf, I wrote the first draft nonstop in just 3 days. That’s because I write the stories as I go, rather than from an outline, and I couldn’t wait to see how that one was going to turn out.
4. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
Some say you should write every day, but that doesn’t work for me. When I start most stories, I become project oriented and a sort of tunnel vision sets in. If there is any pattern, I like to write in the evenings or on weekends.
5. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Most of my life, from the age of 16, has involved the production of dramatic films, video programs, and television commercials. So when I’m writing a kid’s adventure or mystery, I like to play mood-appropriate music in the background for the scene I’m writing. It helps greatly in setting the mood, tone, and creates pictures of the setting and characters in my mind as I go.
6. Did you self publish or have a publisher?
a. If publisher, who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they?
I’ve never self-published. My publishers are now, or have been:
Chestnut Publishing in Toronto
Comfort Publishing in Concord, NC
Darby Creek Publishing
Chicken Soup for the Soul
Elk Lake Publishing in Atlanta, Ga
7. How do you feel about eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
The publishing landscape has dramatically changed since I began my writing journey. I think anything that will make it easier for kids to get excited about reading is a good development. The downside of self-publishing is it has allowed many books to be published without proper editing. Sometimes cover art and interior design suffer also. As an author, it’s important to use as many of the tools available in order to produce the most attractive finished product for readers.
8. What process did you go through to get your book published?
Mu agent recently retired; however, I just submitted a manuscript to the acquisitions editor at a large house which stated they would only entertain material from an agent, or from their editor meeting the writer at a writer’s conference. So, in that case, I contacted the editor and made arrangements directly, based on my previous body of work.
In the past, I would write the first draft, go through it three more times for corrections and changes, and then submit. From there it is up to the publisher, but I retain the right to approve all cover art and work directly with artists to achieve the best look.
9. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Most ideas simply come from life’s experiences, the news, magazines, radio, newspapers, online, or anywhere else where stories are circulating. Because of my extensive world travels, to produce audiovisual programs, a lot of my ideas have come from working on those projects, and meeting people in different locations and circumstances.
10. When did you write your first book and how old were you?
My first book was written 15 years ago when I was 55.
11. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I enjoy movies and spending time with my family. We have 4 grandchildren and I look after two of them – ages 3years old, and 6 months old – for ten days each month. Because I’ve worked all over the world, travel isn’t very attractive to me these days. And when I’m not writing, I spend a lot of time in promotion and marketing activities for my published books.
12. What does your family think of your writing?
Well, I think it came as quite a shock for my 6 other siblings. Of the 7 of us, I’m the only one who took up writing in a family where my father was revered as “the” author. And, because of my dislike for school, atrocious spelling, less than stellar grades, and lack of reading much as a child, it surprised me, too. Aside from myself, I think my wife was more than surprised. But they have all been quite supportive.
13. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I never knew it would take so long to reach my goals, and had no idea, because of the rapid changes in the industry, how many people would rush into it.
14. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I have written, and contracted for publishing, 26 books. I think there are 11 more which are written but don’t have a publishing home yet. Picking a favorite is like asking who is my favorite child or grandchild. Who could choose? I like each of them equally for their individual qualities.
15.15. Do you have any suggestions to help others become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Aside from reading other good writers, just write. I find the more I write, the better my writing becomes. After the first draft, read and re-read until you’re sick of the thing, then submit it.
16. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Yes, I often hear from kids. The most satisfying comments come directly from them or their parents, telling me how one of my books changed them from a struggling, reluctant reader into an avid reader. And my favorite comments sound something like this, “I love your book. Reading it made me feel like I was in an exciting or scary movie.”
17. Who is your main audience for your books?
My action-adventures and mysteries are written for readers 8 – 13, especially boys. However, girls like them, too. The reason I target boys first is because they are more likely to be buried in their electronic devices and not books. I feel if I can turn their heads toward a great story, they might enjoy reading and put the devices down once in a while. VIDEO https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzJP7cvB9KI
The Sense of Humor is for adults.
Tracy’s Choices is for teens and young adults.
18. What do you think makes a good story?
Believable characters, believable settings, believable plot, and a story that makes you want to go on to the next chapter and turn more pages.
19. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I loved being outdoors as a child and thought I’d be a forest ranger one day. But because I grew up around filmmaking, I decided pretty early that this was going to be the life for me.
20. How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?
The first manuscript was called The Scarecrow. This was a story I had originally written as a screenplay for a dramatic children’s film. I pulled it out of a drawer, 20 years later, and developed it into a book manuscript.
21. What do you think most characterizes your writing?
Some people have told me my writing is a cross or hybrid between the movie or television screen and the printed page. I’ve had some professional criticism for this, but have felt maybe the editor didn’t fully understand what I was trying to accomplish for the kids I hoped would ultimately read what I wrote.
22. What inspires you?
I love diving into a new story. I make sure to know who the main character is, along with strengths and weaknesses. I roughly know the beginning, middle, and end because, if you don’t know where you’re headed, you aren’t likely to end up there. And then I jump into the story in order to find out, just as the readers will, what’s going to happen next.
23. Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
I marvel at anyone who is a full-time parent or who is in the middle of a full-time career and then they want to write at the same time. I could never do that. In my case, I find I have to be fully committed to my work and the promotion of it after it’s published. There are so many other variables, the competition to get the attention of potential readers, and the channels of marketing have changed dramatically. Working at this part-time simply wouldn’t work for me, so this is a full-time job in my case.
24. What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
Anyone who knows the answer to that question should be a best-selling author with everything they write. I think it’s up to the readers to answer and they do that by buying our books or moving on to someone else.
25. What are some ways in which you promote your work?
I maintain mailing lists of both professional and reader contacts. I’m active in social media and have several blogs. http://booksandboys.blogspot.com
I’ve developed video book trailers for many of my books and write articles whenever I have the opportunity. I write an occasional one of those for Book Fun Magazine which has a circulation of 400,000 readers. http://www.bookfunmagazine.com
26. What projects are you working on at the present?
Mentioned earlier, I’ve just submitted that middle grade murder-mystery to a large publisher this past week. Next I’ll continue searching for places to submit some of the others which are finished but remain homeless. I know there will be the need to interact with editors on several of the contracted books that have been submitted, so I’m keeping my schedule open for those in the weeks ahead. And I’ll be working on promotion and marketing. I don’t have plans for another writing project, but we never know when the next one of those might hit, or where it’ll come from, so I’m also prepared for that.
27. If you had one thing you could do over (concerning writing, publishing, etc.), what would it be and why?
It would be to have found the confidence somewhere to start writing much earlier in order to get better established in the market. This is going to be a great year for my writing, but I wish I wouldn’t have waited so long to get started. I tell people, “It takes a very long time to become an overnight success.”
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