Author Interview: Pres Maxson
I want to welcome Pres Maxson here today on Peachy’s Insights. Pres is originally from Riverwoods, IL, got his degree in English from the University of Iowa, and currently lives outside Indianapolis. He just released his second novel, Pigeon, an absurd mystery set in Paris.
PM: Thank you so much for having me! I’m a big fan of yours. I’m wondering how I make this interview go viral in a “Tom Cruise standing on Oprah’s couch” kind of way. Can your readers tell I’m standing on my couch right now?
GP: (laughing) I can see that we are going have fun today. But, let’s get into the Q&A.
Every author I know is an avid reader since childhood. What was it about the first book to capture your interest and launch you into a life of reading?
PM: <Still standing on couch> I’m not sure I remember. I suppose my earliest instance would have been my father reading Hardy Boys stories to me. Those were always gripping, and I loved them. I also loved biographies of historical figures and YA novels about baseball when I was in elementary school and junior high.
GP: Biographies and historical stories seem to intrigue young minds, for me it was the mountain men and trappers in early American history.
Authors usually have personal stories of when they first began writing and often just how awful that first one was when they go back to look at it again. When did you begin to write stories and how has your writing changed since that first story you ever wrote?
PM: <Dancing around on couch with no music playing> I’ve really been writing stories as long as I can remember, and I feel as though they’ve always evolved. I think my first ones of any length probably started happening when I was 12 or 13. Although they weren’t good, I think I recognized even then that the only goal was to write for my own enjoyment. And in a way, that’s an important part of art I still believe in. With “Pigeon,” there was no agenda other than to write something I would want to read myself.
GP: Pres, if you were one of my grandchildren I’d tell you to stop jumping on the couch, but, it is your couch, so…
I think everyone has a mentor or two in their lives. Do you have author mentors and which authors have had the greatest influence on your writing and in what way did that influence manifest? Do you mentor anyone yourself?
PM: <Climbs off of couch, massages cramp out of leg> Sure, I’m inspired by many writers, almost everyone I’ve ever read in one way or another. I love reading classic literature: Hemingway, Hugo, Dashiell Hammett, Kurt Vonnegut—but I’m keenly aware I don’t write like any of them. And I can’t say I even try anymore. Here in Indianapolis, I’m inspired by Ryan Felton, who wrote “Good-bye Garden” and the upcoming “The Man Who Ran For God.” We’re co-workers who write for a living from 9-5, so I suppose it’s natural that he inspires me, but he’s clever and prolific with his writing in his passion projects, and I admire that.
GP: The authors you read are some of the great classics. I think the only one I’ve not read is Hammett, but, who knows maybe I just don’t remember. Personally, reading your recent work, “Pigeon,” it reminded me of some Douglas Adams works I’ve read. Your characters were a bit on the eccentrically extreme.
What do you find the most difficult about character development, especially those of the opposite gender?
PM: <Doing various stretches and lunges> I definitely think it’s harder for me to write for the opposite sex, or any other demographic that isn’t my own. But, I’ve been trying to stretch myself to do just that, especially in “Pigeon.” It’s difficult because those characters have a different perspective from my own, and that takes a lot of thought and care. I have definitely battled inauthenticity with those characters, and getting it 100% right is an ongoing learning process. But I think “Pigeon” is my best attempt yet.
GP: I read “Pigeon” and reviewed it recently. It was a very humorous and light-hearted detective story. What would you call the style of writing and what inspired you to write in the style that you chose for “Pigeon?”
PM: <Starts baking a birthday cake> In terms of the style, I suppose it’s humor. Maybe absurdism. Is that a thing? For the voice itself, I wanted something easy to read. Irreverent but not disrespectful. I just felt that it had to be fun. I can’t say any one thing inspired me to approach the project that way, other than a desire to just write something true to my personality.
GP: “Pigeon was certainly all those things and a really fun read for me. Is there a birthday party after this? Oh, yes, next question…
As a quilter I have a bunch of unfinished projects (over 10) that we like to call UFO’s for Un-Finished Objects. Do you as an author have unfinished written works that you’ve set aside? If so, what made you put them aside and what do you think would inspire you to finish them?
PM: <Does about 1.5 pushups, lies on floor panting> I actually don’t have very many unfinished creative projects, and none of them are writing. “Pigeon” wound up being the last step in a long evolution of an unfinished project. I also like to play music and do a little painting, and I have plenty of small projects in both of those veins that aren’t finished, but it’s just not what I’m gravitating towards in this moment. Maybe when our kids are older I’ll be able to devote some time to them. Maybe in 20 years.
GP: You are going to exhaust yourself with all that activity. It’s a bit distracting, you know, when your interview guest won’t sit still. Much like my grandchildren.
Just for fun, here’s something I’d like to know. What would your ideal personal library look like? What books would be must haves in that library?
PM: <Starts juggling a watermelon, banana cream pie, and a bowling ball> Dangerous question for people who love to read. Almost anything from Dashiell Hammett, “The Sun Also Rises” and “A Moveable Feast” from Hemingway, “Bel Ami” from Guy de Maupassant, “Mother Night” from Vonnegut, “The Iowa Baseball Confederacy” from W.P. Kinsella, just because it really sparked my imagination in college and is set in my beloved Iowa City. I’d also put a lot of historical nonfiction and biographies in it. Love reading about Lincoln and revolutionary-era America.
GP: Great choices! I’m sure it would be a wonderful library. Now, could you give us some final thoughts that you would like to share and tell us how we can find your books and any author pages or blogs that you have.
PM: <Does a hand stand, tap dances on ceiling> Final thought: Be excellent to one another, and party on, dude. Find “Pigeon” at amazon.com/dp/1522058591, and see my author page at amazon.com/author/presmaxson and hear my bad billion-dollar business ideas at presmaxson.com.
GP: I want to thank you, Pres, for taking the time to be here today and sharing with my followers. It’s been fun and I hope everyone else enjoyed this time with you.
PM: <out of breath from all the unnecessary physical work of this interview> Thank… you… for… having… me. Good luck!… with your 10… unfinished quilts.
GP: Can I say I told you so? Thank you for the encouraging word, quilts don’t finish themselves for sure. With winter coming upon us here maybe I’ll get a few done. But first, I think I’ll go read my daughter’s copy of “Bender At The Bon Parisien” now.
Hope my readers and followers have enjoyed this interview as much as I have.
Happy Reading and Blessings to all,
Please check out my recent review of “Pigeon” here: http://wp.me/p6kbvq-Mt