DA Kentner writes the column THE READERS' WRITERS for the (Freeport) Journal-Standard and GateHouse News Service. My alter ego KevaD lives under a stairway of dreams where he writes stories and grumbles about everything. Click the pic to visit KevaD's blog.
Drop me a line at dakentner@yahoo.com

I invite you to read my award-winning short story posted on Calliope Magazine's web site.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Film Producer and Author Max Elliot Anderson

Max Elliot Anderson writes the books he would have liked to have read while a boy.

To understand that statement is to understand Max's life. His film producer father wrote seventy books, but Max was drawn to the wonders of the film studio, and until the last decade devoted much of his life to film. 

A husband and father of two, Max now resides in Rockford, Illinois, after traveling the world in his film pursuits. And his accomplishments are remarkable.

"Pilgrim's Progress" featuring acclaimed actor Liam Neeson won Max a Best Cinematographer award. The PBS special "Gospel at the Symphony" garnered an Emmy nomination and won a Grammy for the double album. Max also won national Telly awards (the non-theatrical equivalent to the Oscar) for his productions of "Youth Haven," a "Safe Place for Kids," and "Tracy's Choices," and he has been directly involved in over 500 TV commercials for True Value Hardware Stores.

Following the terrorist attacks of 9-11, Max's life changed. Though he still avails himself to film, a passion within him awakened and he began to write. He hasn't stopped. To date Max has seen seven of his books for boys published. They range from the "Newspaper Caper," a mystery filled with thrills, humor, and plenty of bad guys, to "Legend of the White Wolf," a tale of devotion and a unique, lifelong bond. 

Yet, while all of Max's stories are well-crafted and thoroughly enjoyable, sometimes within a writer is one story that simply has to be told. It becomes a part of the writer's life as necessary as air. For Max that story is "When the Lights Go Out," a children's adventure book about the day the United States changed forever (due out August 1st). And while the story is designed to entertain and enlighten children about 9-11, I believe it is also about this deeply religious author's coming to terms with an event that altered his own course and destiny. 

Max Elliot Anderson is a compassionate and caring man who shares his love of life and humanity through film and now children's books.

Q) What do you think was the inner driving force that compelled you to write "When the Lights Go Out"? 

A) As I’ve spoken in schools, I began to realize something. Children who are 8 to 13 today, know little or nothing about what happened on 9/11 or why it’s important in their lives. I talked with a few adults about this and found that their experiences were the same. We do a good job of teaching about D-Day, and Pearl Harbor, but not so well with 9/11. With the 10th anniversary of 9/11 this year, I thought it would be a good opportunity to draw attention through a story that kids would also find exciting to read at the same time. Since 9/11 reduced many of my client production opportunities, this book became even more important to me. 

Q) What one message do you hope readers walk away with after reading "When the Lights Go Out"? 

A) No matter what your age, it’s important to be aware that there are still people in the world who would like to do us harm. Even children can notice things that aren’t right, and then tell someone about it. 

Q) You also write for Guideposts, True Stories of Extraordinary Answers to Prayer. To what do you attribute your abiding faith in God? 

A) I was raised in a family of seven children. My father rubbed elbows with lots of people in various ministries. When I was a child, frequent guests in our home included pastors, missionaries, recording artists, actors, and more. I could sense the genuine commitment these people had, and how their faith had helped to chart a course in their lives. My parents also had a positive spiritual influence on me, making issues of faith quite a natural part of a full and balanced life. 

Q) A bit star struck, I have to ask. "Pilgrim's Progress" was Liam Neeson's first feature film. Have you two stayed in touch at all?  

A) I wish I could say yes, but my work has included a lot of famous people over the years. It simply isn’t possible to have an ongoing relationship with them, and the production business really doesn’t work like that. In a similar way, my life has included travel to some of the most exotic and wonderful places on the planet. Unfortunately, those trips included a camera and hard work. So I never had the opportunity to simply enjoy much of what those locations had to offer. 

Q) "Tracy's Choices" also won The Christian Filmmaker Award for Best Documentary. The true story of a young woman's life decisions and the ultimate destruction those choices had on her, you filmed it with your trademark compassion. What was it about this particular woman that affected you strongly? Video trailer:

A) I think it was the fact that Tracy grew up in a fairly typical Midwest town. Even she admitted that she never expected her life to turn out the way it did. And yet, it was because of the choices she made at each fork in the road so to speak. My interest in producing the project grew out of the fact that society, at the time, told young people that they weren’t accountable or responsible for their actions. What happened to them, especially if it had a negative outcome, was someone else’s fault and they were just the victim. Tracy simply proved that we are each ultimately responsible for our own lives. 

Q) You avail yourself to schools and welcome opportunities to speak with children and parents about the importance of reading in education. To stress the significance of what you do, I need to point out many authors don't go to schools. Why do you? 

A) I grew up hating to read. Since my father had published so many books during his lifetime, I had to find out why I’d never been motivated to read any of them. This caused me to study nearly 300 books in bookstores and the library. From want I discovered, I began to craft the kinds of stories I would have enjoyed reading as a child. Reading is so important because kids today are not required to use much of their imaginations. Videos, TV, video games, DVDs and other electronic devices, do all their imagining for them. And as I tell kids, readers are the leaders others follow. 

Q) What's next for Max Elliot Anderson? 

A) I enjoy the writing process more than any other creative outlet. So I hope to get back to writing again soon. It’s just that for nearly four years, I did nothing but write. The result was thirty-six action-adventure and mystery manuscripts for kids. I guess what’s next is to continue finding publishing outlets for them. With the way that much of marketing and promotion have shifted to the author, I’ll continue working in those areas. I produce a video book trailer for each book, and am looking for film production companies that might be interested in bringing some of my stories to the screen. That would be seeing things come full circle in my life, although I don’t intend to be involved in the production process. It’d be a little like a surgeon having to operate on his own child. 

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