(See my other Author Interviews) – I read the novel “The Promise” a few weeks ago. After I published my review I contacted the author who uses the pen name Maxx Powr. He graciously agreed to an interview.
Myself: When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer?
Powr: I had some encouragement in high school from my English teacher, but never really pursued it. Working as a programmer later in life, I decided to write a childrens’ book, or 2. I submitted the books (over the transom back then) to publishers and received more encouragement, but also rejections. Life intervened and writing was put on hold for years, until Fairalon under the pen name T.J. Roberts. This was a childrens’ book and I needed a new pen name for The Promise, so children wouldn’t think it was a sequel. The Promise does have language and sexual situations and I didn’t want them to be shocked.
Myself: My background is also in IT and Software Development. What is the first piece that you remember writing?
Powr: The Flight of the Dodo. MG/YA adventure for boys. I may actually rework that one as I really liked it, and so did the publisher I sent it to.
Myself: What is your academic and work background?
Powr: I hold a masters degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. I’ve worked as an Emergency Crisis Intervention Counselor, Children and Adult Family Therapist, Programmer, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, and then started 2 companies, which I still manage.
Myself: What part of the world do you currently live in?
Powr: Southern California
Myself: Do you think that living there has affected your writing?
Powr: Not really. When I write, I live in the book on the screen.
Myself: How do you relax? What are your hobbies?
Powr: Video games (COD), 3d art, photography
Myself: What’s the earliest book you remember reading for yourself?
Powr: Treasure Island comes to mind.
Myself: Did you read much growing up?
Powr: Reading was required in my schools, assigned reading; some good some not. I was an avid comic book reader for fun, much to my parents’ chagrin.
Myself: What have you read recently?
Powr: Making Comics by Scott Mcloud
Myself: What is your favorite genre? book? character? author?
Powr: Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I don’t really have a favorite book, character or author.
Myself: While I read a great deal of WWII era history, Science Fiction and Fantasy are my favorite genres of novels too. Where is your favorite place to read?
Powr: On our porch.
Myself: Do you prefer paper or eBooks? Do you listen to audiobooks?
Powr: I like paper books, but I’m buying more ebooks to support other Indies. I have listened to audiobooks, and I like it best when the author reads it.
Myself: What books do you recommend to others? Give as gifts
Powr: I just like to write stories that thrill me, things I would like to see in a movie. Basically, the stories play out like a movie in my head, The Promise is a good example of that. Once I start, the characters often take me down an unsuspected road, saying things that surprise me. I love that part of it.
Myself: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Powr: I don’t think I’m like a lot of writers, I’m not that ambitious about my writing career. Sure, it would be nice to see my books made into movies, but that is just a dream. I just want to tell some stories that get people jazzed. I don’t expect to be the next big thing. If people enjoy them, I’ll be happy.
Myself: I certainly found your novel enjoyable and a fun read. Why do you write? What makes you sit down and want to share your stories?
Powr: It’s a little selfish but I write for myself. I’ve found that overall people tend to like what I like so it works for me.
Myself: Is there anyone who has influenced your writing?
Powr: Everyone has influenced my writing. One particular author? No.
Myself: How did you pick the genres for your stories?
Powr: I love Sci-Fi and I love Fantasy. For me, it’s an escape to a world of ‘if only.’
Myself: Where do your story ideas come from?
Powr: Weirdly, some come from 3d art. I like to ‘play’ with 3d programs called Poser and Iclone. You can create scenes that you see in your head without artistic ability to draw. I admire people who can just draw what they think of, but my stick figures don’t really cut it.
Myself: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?
Powr: I generally start with one scene that I really like. That scene leads to another, which leads to a former scene. If they are good enough, I start playing with an outline for the arc of the story and the character arc, though they often argue with me.
Myself: Where do you do your writing? Why there?
Powr: I basically have 3 jobs. I have a bit of a cave set up under my house. Window is blocked with an AC unit, so it’s dark in there, except for my multiple screens. I work on computers and answer a phone as needed. It can be disruptive, but I find time in between to write.
Myself: What is your schedule like when you are writing?
Powr: I laughed when I read that. My schedule is whenever I have a moment. But, once I get caught up in the scene, I usually don’t stop until that scene is completed.
Myself: How do you fit writing into your daily schedule? (i.e. balance work, writing and family)
Powr: I write between tasks. It honestly stinks, because there are times when it’s flowing and you get interrupted. It is what it is.
Myself: About how long does it take you to complete a first draft? How long do your revisions take?
Powr: Probably a year for the first draft, a year for the final product. I like to create the scenes in 3d, and that can get pretty demanding timewise.
Myself: I see on your web sites that you have posted some of your 3D art. Have you thought of including some of those images in your novels?
Powr: If you take a look at Fairalon, you’ll see all the images in the book are presented on the web site in higher resolution 1 for each chapter. Also, the cover and back of the book open up to one big image of the road to grandma’s house, with Charlie swinging and Iris in the back seat watching. * (You can see them all on www.Fairalon.com so you don’t have to buy the book to see them). However, tremendous spoilers ahead in the images. I recommend looking at the images in a color reader like Kindle Fire or such, or the hard copy has printed color images. You can also read the text in a B&W kindle, nook or whatever, and then look at the images online. I put them there for people who didn’t have color readers, but do have computers with color monitors.
As for the Adult Sci Fi, like The Promise, most adult Sci-Fi books don’t include images. The images on the book cover and back are 3d art I created. (On the back is Sheen in her regen machine with Chase 523, the front is The Promise going through a wormhole)
There are arguments on both sides, such as leaving it up to the reader’s imagination versus showing them in a picture. I really like creating the images. It’s like walking around inside the scene in my head. It’s also very challenging to get anything that looks really good. My latest of Sheen is an image I really like. She looks real (to me).
Myself: That is a very lifelike image. I can understand the added cost and time involved with including your images in print. Perhaps though some could be included in your ebooks. How much research do you put into a novel?
Powr: It depends. I found that The Promise took more research than Fairalon, but I research as needed and try not to fall into interesting rabbit holes.
Myself: What tools (software?) do you use in your writing?
Powr: I prefer WordPerfect, but had to switch to Word because all the editors use it. I’ve started using Grammarly and ProWritingAid and they are both very good.
Myself: I have been using Grammarly as well and really like it. Using it has improved my writing. What are the hardest and easiest things about writing?
Powr: Hardest: Finding the time to write. Easiest: I enjoy writing dialogue, for some strange reason.
Myself: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Powr: Keep your day job as long as you can. From what I’ve read it can take 10 years to acquire an agent. 10 years! And that doesn’t mean you’ll be published. You need to eat, pay bills, and if you go Indie, pay for marketing your book. Don’t go nuts foregoing a normal life. It is good to keep a balance.
Myself: What novels/works have you published?
Powr: Fairalon MG/YA Fantasy Adventure
The Promise Adult Sci-Fi Action Adventure
Myself: What are you currently working on?
Powr: Return to Fairalon Because High School is a Creep Show (working title) and a sequel to The Promise, no working title as yet
Myself: What else would you like to share?
Powr: If you feel like you would like to write a book, that’s great. Don’t expect to be the next J.K. Rowling, but it’s okay to have a dream.
Do it for you.
The best advice that I stumbled across on my own is this: When it’s done, final version #158, grab an audio program and record the book as if you were reading it for an audiobook. Try your best to read it with inflection. You don’t have to do voices or sound effects. Read it like you are reading it to a friend. Now that you have finished recording all the chapters, (it takes a long time) take some time to listen. You will hear things that are like nails on a chalkboard, or music to your ears, depending upon how much editing you have done. Fix it. Re-record and listen again. If you are lucky, you won’t have that much to do. If not, you will be so glad you didn’t send it to an editor.
Myself: That is very good advice! How should your fans follow you or get in touch?
Myself: I see you have a MeWe link on your PiecerChronicles website. I have recently added that social platform as well.
Powr: I’m really only going to be there from now on, or the main web sites. I prefer MeWe to Facebook, (no ads).