This interview originally appeared in Book Fun Magazine
How long have you been blogging, Max
My first post
was in January of 2007. At that time I’d had a few action-adventures and
mysteries published for young readers.
Why did you begin blogging?
Other writers talked about
how we needed to have blogs in order to connect with our readers. And this was
before social media had arrived. So, along with my website, I began blogging.
Posting on my blog allowed me to put out timely information without having to
wait for someone else to update my website. And it gave people an opportunity
to connect with me directly in a new way.
You grew up in and around
the film production business. Can you tell me more about that?
I had the great privilege
of growing up in a family where our dad wrote, produced, and directed dramatic
films. We lived in Wolf Lake, Michigan, at the time, not far from Muskegon. And
the studio was an old dance hall that had been renovated and moved to a
location close to our house. A dirt path was soon worn through the woods where
I could ride my bike, or, if a tire was flat, it was an easy run to the
Pusing the dolly on the film, Without Onion
From a very young age, I
used to make my way to that studio and hang out in the shadows of the sets.
There I could watch the actors, listen to dialog and timing, notice the
setting, plot, and everything that went into making a film. Later I helped out
in the editing process where the film was cut together and music and sound
effects were added.
Looking lost while editing a film sequence
Working on another film production
At the age of eight, I was “struck
and killed” by a hit-and-run driver. But…since the film I was in was shot in
black and white, the blood that ran from my nose, mouth, and ear, came out of a
chocolate syrup bottle.
Later I sat with audiences
and watched some of the finished films. It was amazing to hear them laugh in
just the right spots, and cry when the story turned sad. Because of those
experiences I knew, from a very early age, that I wanted to work on films, too.
Has your film and video
experience helped in writing action adventures and Mysteries for middle grade
The 10 books currently published
I believe those early
experiences have everything to do with how I write today. My professional life
included the production of films, video programs, and television commercials
for over forty years. In that time, I was responsible for bringing all kinds of
stories to the screen. In the process, and without my knowing it, I’d been
storing countless impressions, in my subconscious, that would surface later as
I began writing.
I don’t write to an
outline. I do have the beginning, middle, and end in mind when I start, along
with who the main character is and what challenges he’ll be facing. From there
the story emerges in front of me as I write. And writing it feels like I’m
watching a feature film appear right before my eyes. Sometimes I’ll close my
eyes just to look at the setting and observe the characters in a scene.
Shooting the feature film, Pilgrim's Progress staring Liam Neeson in his first motion picture role.
Borrowing a page from my
filmmaking days, I like to have props and pictures around the computer that suggest
elements in the story I’m writing. In addition, I’ll play mood appropriate
music and even sound effects to help set the tone. I prefer to write summer
stories when it’s hot outside and winter stories when the air is freezing.
Then, all I have to do is step outside to get in the proper mood.
What is the focus of your
At first I thought I should
write to kids, but there were some problems with doing that. Parents can be
pretty cautious when it comes to turning young children loose on the Internet,
and I completely agree with them. I realized early that, to get good books into
the hands of kids, I needed to speak to parents, grandparents, and other adults
in their lives. So that’s what I’ve been doing over the last several years. My
blog subjects range from personal experiences, production trips and locations,
important articles by others, and book introductions for other middle grade
authors. Anytime I have an article in magazines like Book Fun, or others, I post information about that along with a link. And each
time I have a new release, it gets a lot of attention on my blog.
Later I go back and do
other promotion for books of mine that have been out for a time. But in everything
that I put on my blog, the focus is on getting kids, especially boys, to read.
After all, where do we expect to find our adult readers of the future if we
aren’t grooming them when they’re young?
Why did you choose to focus
on books for boys?
My writing began in late
2001. At that time, there seemed to be plenty of material available for girls,
but not so much for boys. In addition, I grew up hating to read, even though my
dad was an author of over 70 books. I felt there had to be lots of boys out
there who didn’t like to read. We’d rather be doing things, or seeing how they
work; not reading about them in books. I thought if I could write the kinds of
books I would have enjoyed as a boy, maybe other boys and girls would like
reading them, too, and that’s exactly what I’ve found. What’s been fun is to
hear from kids, and their parent, how reading one of my books is like being in
an exciting movie. It kind of makes all my other work experiences come full
Who should be reading your
The information on my blog
would be helpful to teachers, librarians, parents, grandparents, children’s
workers, tutors, and kids. Over the course of a year, there’ll be something for
everyone. Most importantly, if anyone knows of a reluctant reader, like I was,
they should be checking out my blog, too.
What are some of the
subjects you've covered in your blog?
We’ve talked about
bullying, reluctant readers, other authors, current events, issues related to
education, and more. It’s a good place to keep connected with what’s important
to kids and reading.
What do you hope is the
take-away for readers of your blog?
I view my blog as a
conversation. Parents especially can get to know the heart of an author who is
attempting to reach out to children. I’m the dad to two grown children and now
have two little granddaughters. So I know some of the pressures and issues
related to raising children. We need to understand that reading is probably the
most important skill that will predict the success of a child in school and
later in life. Anyone coming to my blog will get that. But there are also
helpful suggestions, links to important articles and sites, along with
information on my new releases. An education company in Canada has contracted six books,
and the serialized
story concept that is emerging through Book Fun Magazine, and Elk Lake
Publishing, should keep my blog pretty active.
What's ahead for your
There are a number of
things I’d like to write, but I don’t want to get into that just now. And since
I wrote thirty-six middle grade manuscripts, almost non-stop over a period of
three years, there are still several of those that need to find publishing homes. I find
most of my time is spent in marketing, promotion, and writing a regular, monthly column. In addition, I’ll be continuing an ongoing series
with Elk Lake Publishing in the months ahead. It’s called, "The Accidental
Adventures of Kurt Benson and his friends, Riley and Jordan." The first
story, The Cat Burglars, will be
starting soon, is in six parts, and will be delivered primarily to electronic
reading devices. The next story, with the same characters, is Funny Money Mystery. So be sure to watch
for information on these in Book Fun Magazine.
The Accidental Adventures VIDEO
Thank you for taking time to do this interview.
it, Bill. Nice to connect with you again.
Bill Myers has been writing children’s and teen books and speaking at schools for over 20 years. As a writer/director his work has won over 40 national and international awards including the C.S. Lewis Honor Award.
Well, it's been a tough slog. This was my first major surgery so I didn't
know exactly what to expect in the recovery and healing process. The early days
had their ups and downs and my energy level still fluctuates. So far I haven't
had any interest in writing, but expect that to come around in time.
Yesterday I had an appointment with my surgeon for his follow-up and to
have the stitches removed. Mine was the traditional, large incision for a burst
appendix. He explained again, since the entire area was such a mess, filled with
poisons and other nasty substances, that he felt it necessary to open me up, do
several irrigations, suction that out each time, install a drain, and close me
up. As a result, I had no major reactions or infections. So, at the office visit
yesterday, while a medical student removed the stitches, the doctor went on and
on about how pleased he was at my progress, how well I looked, and how easily I
could move around. I've had no pain for the last 4 or 5 days and stopped taking
my narcotic medication for that.
And yesterday, I was even able to resume looking after my 2 year-old
granddaughter, Olivia. I have her at least 10 days per month. She and I are very
close, so it's been hard for her to be without PaPa for the past 2 weeks - hard
for us both, really. We had a great time. She gave me lots of hugs and kisses
through the day.
Thanks again for your prayers, comments, and concerns. We are fearfully and
wonderfully made, it's true, and isn't it good to know we are constantly under
the watchful care of the Great Physician?
A week ago tomorrow - at 1 AM - I found myself in an operating room with a burst
appendix. I spent 2 1/2 days in the hospital and have been recovering at home since.
The process has had its ups and downs, and at my age is slower than if this had
happened in my teens or twenties when it usually occurs. This was my first major
surgery, and it was done in the old school way of a large incision, so I don't
have any other real-world experience with which to compare it.
Hopefully I'll be back to causing trouble again real soon but I wanted
everyone to know why it's been so quiet from this end.
Updated for 9/11/2014 Some dates burn deeply into our collective memory forever. I will never forget where I was and what I was doing on September 11, 2001. You probably know the same. Your children, quite possibly, were not yet born before 9/11, and you will have to explain that famous date to them at an appropriate time. They need your explanation of this shocking and tragic even in America.
Max Elliot Anderson has dedicated his latest adventure fiction, When the Lights Go Out (Comfort Publishing, 2012), to “the memory of 9/11 and the people who lost their lives that day, so we never forget.” Anderson has written numerous adventure books geared for eight-to thirteen-year-old boys.
Peyton Aldrich, the central character, is the son of a US Army colonel who specializes in intelligence. Colonel Aldrich’s top-secret work leaves young Peyton curious yet proud of his father who was recently stationed at a new army base in the middle of nowhere along with his family. The colonel has an important job protecting the country from terrorists. When Peyton and his friends accidentally discover a dangerous plot on the base, they determine to stop it. Will the terrorists catch them? What will happen if the evil plan succeeds? This fast-paced story lives up to Anderson’s previous books. It will hold young readers’ attention right up to the surprise ending.
I want to make sure you are aware of a book, When The Lights Go Out, especially with what is now in the news daily about terrorist threats. This is an adventure / mystery for readers 8 - 13 with a terrorist plot.
In the story, the father of the main character is able to tell his kids why he joined the army instead of going into business. He says, "After what happened on 9/11, somebody had to help keep the country safe." This opens a short discussion with his two children in which he briefly recounts the events of that day.
I found, while speaking in schools, that many children today know little or nothing about 9/11 or why it's important to them. When The Lights Go Out will help teachers, librarians, grandparents, and parents with this issue.
Students don’t know much about it and it isn’t an important part of the curriculum. There may be pockets of areas where this isn’t true, but I’m not aware of those.
On a recent national news program, I saw some man-on-the-street interviews of young people in their late teens and early twenties. A few could explain what took place on 9/11, but sadly, most had no idea.
We can NOT allow this to continue.
Please tell as many people as possible about
When the Lights Go Out. I signed copies at a recent ICRS show in Atlanta.
Using his extensive experience in dramatic film, video, and TV commercial production, Max Elliot Anderson brings that same heart-pounding, visual excitement to his middle grade adventures & mysteries for readers 8 and up