Happy Monday, guys!
We have an interview with Cynthia Voight today, author of the Mister Max series!. This is one of my favorite interviews to date, because she's clearly taken the time to think out answers to our questions!
Read on for her thoughts about writing the Mister Max series and more!
MMGM is a feature hosted by the fabulous Shannon Messenger on her blog every week!
A Q&A with Cynthia Voigt:
Author of the Mister Max series
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. I grew up with the Tillerman Cycle, so this is a very, very big honor!
1. Could you please summarize the Mister Max series for me in ten words or less?
When I presented reading choices to students, I was pretty good at asking the seductive questions but that was the extent of my ability. If your father died and your mother married your uncle and something happened (a letter turned up, a ghost came to see you, you overheard something they said to one another when they thought they were alone), something that made you suspect it was murder, what could you do? (Note: Could, not Would.) That’s one example.
Another might be: What if you had a little brother who was mouse-sized? Oh, and he had a tail too, and he knew how to walk right away, what trouble might he run into?
So I suppose if I were trying to make Max’s story appealing, I’d ask something like: What if your stage-center style parents just disappeared on you? How would you manage? What about them, what could have happened to them? Which is more than twice ten words.
2. What’s been the best and most challenging parts about writing this series?
You have to map geographies, (that is to say, draw, and I can’t, not even a map) and name people, you have to create a political entity, you have to make somewhat credible an unlikely home situation (so much theater, (I am not a dramatic person) and think through a pathway of causes to lead the reader through what is more like a maze than anything else , from the start to the end of the story.
Because you have to go back and forth, in that maze, fixing the past so it will match up with the re-imagined future that you changed because you had a better idea, maybe, or maybe on page 67 you realized that you just wandered west down a street you said on page 3 went from north to south.
Also, because plotting always gives me trouble. (I have taken to defining myself as plotting-impaired, aka the polar opposite of Alexander McCall Smith. ) I seem to have a much more abiding interest, and endless curiosity, about people, or as we say in my trade, character. (Aristotle, by the way, remarked on the relative ease of character compared to plot.)
3. While each reader has their own interpretation of a text, what’s one idea or theme that you hope readers will get, when reading the series?
4. You’ve been one of the foremost leaders in children’s and YA literature throughout the years.
Could you share some interesting trends that you’ve noticed in the literature community throughout the years, or anything notable that you feel is worth pointing out?
(This is a situation to which I give a very much mixed review, since my options for used and out-of-print books have multiplied and I know the ease of purchase increases availablilty of readers).
However, to me, from my place in the order of things, the biggest change was caused by the Rowling-Potter phenomenon, and that is simply because until that point, none of the marketing people (or in fairness most of the rest of the people in children’s book publishing) thought that so much money could be made in children’s books. EB White was the most ambitious model, a writer whose books sold and sold; never best-sellers, but steady sellers. Children’s writers were backlist people, if they were lucky.
But I do believe that greed is the besetting sin of capitalism, and a great enemy of both common sense and good writing, which certainly colors my opinion.
5. Finally, what’s next for you? When can we continue our adventures with Max?
I have no immediate plans for Max (although for Pia ….) and expect him to occupy his place in some dusty mental corner until the next time my plotting-impairedness begins to drive me crazy.