Max Anderson

Max Elliot Anderson grew up as a reluctant reader. After surveying the market, he sense the need for action-adventures and mysteries for readers 8 – 13, especially boys. Using his extensive experience in the production of motion pictures, videos, and television commercials, Mr. Anderson brings the same visual excitement and heart-pounding action to his stories. Each book has completely different characters, setting, and plot. He’s also begun a traditional series. Seven books are published, with an additional twenty-nine manuscripts completed. Young readers have reported that reading one of his books is like being in an exciting or scary movie. Visit Max at: Books for Boys Blog, Author Web Site, Video - Captain Jack's Treasure, or My Youtube Videos.

Max Anderson

Why Do I Write for Kids?

A question I’m often asked is why I write for kids and not adults. Given my life of world travel and working on so many different kinds of film and video productions, why write for kids? Why not write about those countries and the people I’ve met? I could tell some wild stories.

Like the film I shot in New Guinea. New Guinea isn’t far from Australia by distance, but people in the area where we went practically live in the Stone Age. We traveled by truck until the road ended at a riverbank. From there we journeyed by large canoes with motors on the back. I was sure the camera and all my equipment were going into the drink any second because the water came right up to the edge of the boat. But I was more concerned about crocodiles, which are known to drag people right out of their canoes in New Guinea.

Men took our crew up river for several hours until we reached a mission outpost that was only fifty miles from where cannibals still live. After a couple of days of filming in the village, a tropical storm blew in, swelling the muddy river over its banks. Now it made sense why all the huts were built up on stilts. In the middle of the night we had to escape to higher ground in the jungle. And don’t forget about snakes, those cannibals, and all the wild animals in the dark. So why not write books about stories like that?

I chose to write middle grade fiction for a number of reasons. It is clear that some of the most critical patterns for a lifetime are decided during the tween years. This is that awkward time between still trying to be a “little kid” while doing your best to convince your parents you’re all grown up.

Baby AndersonAs a child, I hated to read. In a family of seven children, I wasn’t especially pushed to read, so I never formed good reading habits. The funny thing is, my father published over seventy books during his lifetime. A number of these were written for children, but I never read any of them. I was more interested in going outside to find any adventure I could. I’d rather be doing something than reading about it in a book.

A few years ago I decided to look into some of the reasons why I didn’t like to read. My findings lead me to begin writing action-adventure and mystery books for readers aged 8–13, especially for boys, the kind of stories I would have read when I was a boy. These books are highly visual, and contain lots of humor, dialogue, and plenty of heart-pounding action. Much of the content is influenced by my years of dramatic film production.

During my study into why I didn’t like to read as a child, I discovered books with large blocks of copy, making it easy for a reluctant reader to lose his place on the page. Books tended to be produced on a brown shade of rough paper with small type. A reluctant boy reader is not going to be interested in endless details and descriptions. He wants something happening on every page, fast action, and humor. Most of the books I found in my research were written for girls as the primary audience. The books for boys tended to include dragons, wizards, or the dark side.

Again, taking a page from my film experience, I patterned my books after previous film marketing experience. We had learned that girls would watch adventure and mystery films whose main character was a boy, but that boys were not interested in films where the main character was a girl. We were able to measure New Guineathis by the popularity of various titles. I used that same pattern to create stories that boys would like, but that girls could enjoy reading just as much.

As a result, my books are larger than many, the paper is brighter, and the type is also bigger. Sentences and paragraphs are short. Readers won’t find huge blocks of type containing seemingly endless description and details. Most chapters end in a cliffhanger, nearly forcing the reader to start the next chapter.

The biggest surprise, outside of the fact that reluctant reader boys enjoy these books, is that avid boy readers, girls, and even adults also enjoy them. Stories cover character, moral, and spiritual subjects that even secular reviewers report are not “preachy.” Several books are already published, and I’ve completed thirty-six manuscripts.

One of my concerns has been that boys may think reading is dull or boring. Who wouldn’t rather play a video game, right? So I put together a forty-five-second video. If somebody tries to give you a hard time because you like reading, click on the link. I guarantee they’ll be impressed by the fire and smashing TV. They could even decide that reading might be cool after all (

Sometimes I wonder how my life might have been different if I’d grown up as an avid reader, like some of my brothers and sisters. But I’ve come to understand that I’m able to write books that will get boys reading, and the very reasons for that are found in why I write for kids today.


Captain Jack's Treasure