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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Reluctant Reader Turned Writer Max Elliot Anderson

Starsongs is proud to welcome  author Max Elliot Anderson. A reluctant reader as a child, Max now pens adventure books for boys. 

Max, you spent much of your younger years as a reluctant reader. What suggestions do you have for avid readers who would like to encourage their reluctant reader friends to discover books?

If a child avoids reading in every way possible - choosing video games, or the computer over reading - you might set those activities aside as rewards. Parents can say, “After you’ve read for thirty minutes, or an hour,” for example, “then you may spend time doing those other things.”

But reading doesn’t always have to be a book. Find a subject that the child is interested in, then look for articles, magazines, Internet sites, or other sources where that subject is written about. Here are some other ideas. Read aloud with your child. Get rid of distractions. Above all, make reading fun. Have your child try reading to a dog, a cat, a doll, or stuffed animal. Look for high interest, low vocabulary books called Hi-Lo, and advance from there.

A library must be very intimidating to a reluctant reader. On your web site, you make the comment that “It has…been said that a reluctant reader simply hasn’t found the right books yet.” What, in your opinion, leads any reader to the right books?

As a child, my problem was in finding books that interested me. Back then books were boring. They had large blocks of type that intimidated me. I could easily lose my place on the page, if there were any distractions nearby. I understand that graphic novels help some reluctant readers. These are books that have lots of drawings, sort of like a glorified comic book. In my own writing, I stick to shorter sentences, fewer descriptions or boring details, employ a faster pace, lots of humor and dialog in order to keep things moving.

But it all comes down to interest. If the child likes animals, find books about the animals they like. If they’re interested in sports, seek out sports books, and so on.

Tell us about your recently released novel,  River Rampage.

When I started writing about eleven years ago, I wrote stand-alone manuscripts. I did this because I wanted to explore all sorts of different main characters. In this way, I could deal with various personalities, strengths, and weaknesses in those characters. River Rampage is actually the third book in a traditional series - The Sam Cooper Adventure Series - with the same primary characters in each book. The first book in this series is Lost Island Smugglers, and the second is Captain Jack’s Treasure.

Sam Cooper and his friends have the chance of a lifetime to go rafting down the mighty Colorado River. The rains have been heavy this season, making the raging river even more treacherous. The boys become separated from the main group, their rubber raft is going flat, and now they're on their own. They have their hands full with a crusty prospector, his gold mine, a gang of outlaw bikers, and a desperate river escape on their makeshift wooden raft. Think that's the worst that could happen?

Well, it isn't.

Do you write on a regular schedule?

I don’t. My writing has always been project oriented. By that I mean that I take on a writing project and stay with it until it’s finished. In the early stages, I turned out many manuscripts without contracts, an agent, or publisher. This resulted in 35 action-adventure & mystery manuscripts for young readers. Since that time, I've taken on the writing of regular short stories for a magazine and a monthly column. Those projects are written according to fixed schedules and deadlines.

And because I wrote so many manuscripts in advance, I can spend most of my time with promotion and marketing of the 10 books that are out now. I've just signed a contract for multiple books with an education publisher, and have an additional 4 book project under contract with two other publishers. One of these is book #4 in the Sam Cooper series.

What is your favorite part of writing and why?

What I like most is the writing itself. I love closing the door to my writing room, turning on mood appropriate music to the scene I’m writing, lighting a candle, and disappearing into a world of my own making. The amazing part of the process is sitting there and pounding on the keys as an adventure or mystery appears right in front of me. I don’t work from an outline, so each story is filled with surprises even as I write.

Least favorite and why?

I’m thankful for having such a great agent, Terry Burns at Hartline, because it’s the details that drive a writer crazy. We already are called upon to shoulder most of the marketing and promotion. If I had to deal with everything else that goes along with the publishing process, there wouldn't be much time for writing.

Tell us about your “message in a bottle” real life adventure.

The thought occurred to me that if I were to be publishing adventures and mysteries for kids, why not start a real one of my own? I made an offer of a free set of my books to anyone who found my floating bottle. The bottle was released into the Rock River, in Rockford, Illinois, where we live. From there it should have had a clear shot to the Mississippi. From that point it would have the chance to travel into the Gulf of Mexico and possibly the ocean.

Unfortunately, shortly after I sent the large, clear, plastic bottle on its way, we had torrential rains, resulting in unexpected, severe flooding on the Rock and the Mississippi rivers.

Has anyone claimed the prize?

Not yet. This was probably five years ago now. Who knows, maybe Amelia Earhart will find it, on the beach of that island where she landed, and send it back for her free books.

What kind of advice would you give to young writers?

Publishing is a long, slow, solitary process filled with highs and lows. You have to be serious about making your way in it, and willing to work hard to achieve your goals. If you feel called to write, don’t let anyone try to stop you. Most of all, never, never, ever give up.

Click the following links to learn more about Max and his books.

Books for Boys Blog 
Author Web Site 
My Youtube Videos
Books you can trust for your kids

Thanks for stopping by to spend some time with us, Max!


Using his extensive experience in dramatic film, video, and television commercial production, Max Elliot Anderson brings that same visual excitement, and heart-pounding action, to his many adventures & mysteries for readers 8 – 13.

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