We learn quickly how to make wishes, and continue to make them everyday. I don't believe we ever stop wishing. But...
"It's not about making wishes,
it's about fulfilling them."
At least, this is what author MAXIMILIAN A. TIMM, wants us to understand. Max is the author of the upcoming Young Adult fantasy novel, The WishKeeper. And it's a book you're going to want to get your hands on. What good is a million wishes if you don't try to fulfill even but one of them?
*Awesome side note: the main character's name is Shea,
which happens to be Jadrian's middle name.
**Awesome side note #2: another character's name is Avery.
(1) The Timm Family grew up in my small hometown of Delavan, Wisconsin. The Timm Children were comprised of three incredibly gorgeous, extremely talented, and wonderfully kindhearted girls - and Max. Don't get me wrong, it's not like Max isn't kindhearted or talented or handsome - he's all of this and much more - it's just that his position as a male caused him to be referred to as "and Max" for many years. As in: Oh, the Timm girls were just here - and Max. So, while Max grew up in my town and went to my school and we share many of the same friends, I just remember him as "and Max."
(2) I consider Max a dear friend today. Why? Well, Facebook has certainly helped immensely and I've really enjoyed getting to know who he is today. Max is a really good guy. Like, really good. He's funny and kind and gentle and warm. He loves his family more than anything in the world (and that right there, ladies, is a sign of a good and decent man). He's smart yet easy going, intelligent yet casual. You won't find ego with this guy.
(3) Max is a brilliant writer with an incredible imagination. You can watch Max here as he talks about his book --- and, yes, yes, he is single. Dream away, ladies.
Max recently launched a Kickstarter Campaign for his book that you're going to want to check out and provide some support because what you receive with the different pledge levels is AWESOME! You might even earn his hand in marriage!
Why Young Adult? Why fantasy?
I get asked this question a lot, and it makes me laugh when I answer myself with, "why write something that doesn't involve fantasy?" I know that sounds a bit closed-minded, especially since most of the literary world doesn't involve fairies, wizards or vampires, but my reason for writing young adult fantasy is basically because of the old adage, "write what you know". Obviously I have never met a fairy, nor do I live in a world where I continually interact with unicorns, but because my earliest and happiest reading experiences involve some form of fantasy adventure (The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings), it's just what I enjoy writing.
I also believe that when you suspend your disbelief and let your heart and mind wander to places that are so obviously unreal, it allows you to open up and accept life's harsh lessons...even just a little more than usual. I like the indirect thematic messages that come through in fantasy and science fiction. While The WishKeeper is about a six-inch tall fairy with shredded wings who wants to protect and grant wishes, it's actually about a teenager with a handicap who refuses to accept that she is any less gifted or able than her peers. I think every teenager who has ever lived can relate to that in some way...with or without a handicap. At least I know I can.
**** Added Note: Emmy Kuipers (Flaming Colours) reviewed Max's book stating, "It’s not often you find disability in fantasy novels, and even less often is it treated with such love and respect as this writer has done." ****
What (or Who) exactly IS a Wishkeeper?
My official description is, "No smaller than a robin, no bigger than a crow, a WishKeeper is like most fairies you've read about in stories, only with a much more specific purpose than simply to make a flower grow. They have wings that are more dragon-like than a "whispy" Tinker Bell and vary greatly in attitude, personality and ability. Their goal is to serve their assigned WishMaker [human], throughout the Maker's lifetime, in protecting his/her wishes without question or hesitation."
The last bit is important in relation to the overall story of The WishKeeper (as you'll see more clearly in book two, "The WishMaker"). It's also important to point out that WishKeepers do not, technically speaking, grant the Maker's wishes. They ASSIST in the granting. It is still up to the WishMaker to do his/her part, but without the WishKeeper, a Maker's wishes would wander off, lose their power and never find a safe home.
Of course, I love this book for many reasons --- especially the message that it's not just about making wishes, it's about doing whatever we can to work towards fulfilling those wishes --- but one of the things that just touches my heart is the names of two of the characters: Shea (Jadrian's middle name) and Avery (love!!) What can you tell us about the two of them and their relationship in this story?
I remember when I was finishing up The WishKeeper. I had learned that your daughter, Avery, was lost in a car accident and I was just devastated. I had never met Avery, and had only ever been an "electronic" Facebook friend of yours, though of course you knew my sisters well. I didn't have an intense feeling of loss like so many close friends or family members of Avery's might have had (though of course it was there), but I did have an immediate reaction of an inability to understand why such a thing happened. And I mean that on a metaphysical/spiritual level. While the book itself was already done (minus some basic rewrites and editing), I looked back at what I had written and realized that I'd named one of the central characters, Avery! When I considered what I knew about your little Avery, compared to the little one I created in my book, I was honestly floored at how similar they were. I like to think of it as a bit of divine intervention, if you will.
While the readers will see that Avery plays a vital role in the book and changes quite a bit throughout the adventure, at the heart of her character is a fairy who only sees beauty in everyone. Despite age, gender, appearance or even motivation, Avery starts out as pure as a fairy can be. She doesn't understand the idea of right or wrong, not because it doesn't make sense to her, but because she just innately knows that it doesn't matter. We are all beautiful in her eyes. What happens to Avery in the book is actually quite devastating because she loses that rose-colored glasses sensibility, and because of Erebus, she goes to a very dark place and from which is nearly impossible to return. I needed a character like Avery because she represents how darkness, negativity, and lack of hope, when compounded over time, can destroy someone. But even more importantly, how friendship and love can help bring someone out of such a dark place. She comes out of it, and only because of the love from her friends.
When finding out another character shared a name with your other daughter, I just shook my head and smiled. I had no idea Jadrian's middle name was Shea (why would I know such a thing!), and since I created Shea about five or six years ago, the coincidence is honestly kind of crazy. And the fact that my Shea is a bad ass, and from what I hear about how awesome Jadrian is, well...like I said, divine intervention.
In terms of their relationship, Shea and Avery don't really interact that much in the first book. Their stories are integrally intertwined, of course, but only until the second book do they become close.
If your readers would like to take a glance at Avery and "meet her", here is a link. This is the first time the beginning of the chapter, "Avery's Secret", has been shared. Consider it a world premiere, if you will. I hope you like Avery as much as I do: http://wishkeeperdiary.tumblr.com/post/60554529488/an-introduction-to-avery
Where did the characters come from? (friends, family, enemies....?)
Rarely do I intentionally create a character "based on" someone from my real life. I'm not sure why, but I think it has to do with the very real fact that no one I know is all that interesting. I'm kidding! I will say, though, there is some truth to that. A story, in my opinion, should be grand, lofty, slightly ridiculous in nature and extremely exciting! I honestly don't know anyone who embodies exactly all of those characteristics. That being said, pieces of people I know, have worked with or encountered during my weird life, do come out in some of the characters. Shea, for instance, is a combination of my sister Carrie, and the piece of me that wishes to be more bold, daring and determined.
The villain in The WishKeeper (Erebus...pronounced, Air-uh-buss) is a combination of every terrible boss I have ever had. And believe me when I say, I have had plenty. He's manipulative, selfish, egotistical, and cares only about his own reputation and power. Yeah...I've had those employers.
Also, Thane (Shea's friend and co-conspirator), has a lot of the real me in him. He pretty much embodies my uber-organized, by-the-book, extremely hesitant nature. Anyone who knows me and reads the book will probably giggle a little at some of the things Thane says primarily because, well, Thane is me...only better looking and a fairy.
You've had this story brewing for the past 10 years and it wouldn't shake you until you wrote it out?
Very true! I will say, however, that my drive to finish the book and release it to the public has never truly been one of fierce or impatient determination. It needed to be great before I ever gave it to anyone to read. And I've never had a pit bull attitude about it. In other words, it was a subtle, almost muted determination in the way that I just simply 'knew' that it needed to get done and released. In no way does that diminish my intent to finish, though. Because I have been working on it for so long, it has become a part of who I am; my identity. To fuel such drive, I somehow figured out a way to keep the story fresh and exciting (at least in my head), and because of how many different iterations, drafts, and versions I've written, I've kept up a constant feeling renewal...albeit, unintentionally. ha
Let me be completely honest, however...it was never my intention to work on one project for such a long time! I fought through draft after draft, knowing that the last one was only "good enough" and not "great". "Good enough" has never been, ironically, good enough for me! I highly suggest, to any writer or creative person out there, that you NOT take so long to finish something. It is both a flaw and an attribute to have such wild, nearly uncontrollable determination, and if I wasn't the type of person who finds it extremely difficult to 'let go', The WishKeeper may have never been finished.
You and your sister, Carrie, came up with the basic premise/idea for the book...when/how did this come about? Are you going to give her a free copy of the book? And a new car when it becomes wildly successful?
First, I must credit my sister for so much of the creation of The WishKeeper. Back in 2004, I remember emailing my sister and telling her that I had this idea to write a screenplay based on an old PC video game series called King's Quest. I had only written a script or two prior to having this idea, one of which was a short I directed with Carrie as the star. The other was a terribly melodramatic adventure loosely based on "It's A Wonderful Life". It was awful. So here I am, in my mid-twenties, thinking I could write a screenplay based on one of the most popular PC games of all time. Naivete can only sometimes serve you in a positive way.
Nonetheless, Carrie heard my little pitch and said, "sure!" I moved back out to Los Angeles, and we wrote the first couple drafts, and from what I can remember they were actually pretty OK. When we realized we didn't have the rights to the game series (duh), my naive 24-year old self found the executive in charge at Vivendi Universal (the conglomerate who owned the rights), called him up, and started a dialogue. Let me put this in perspective: I'm 24 years old, working my first industry job as an assistant at a tiny distribution company for $15/hour, and I'm calling a top-tier executive (within five people of the CEO of a giant corporation) to inquire about acquiring the rights to one of the post popular video games in history...with no money. What was amazing was how patient, helpful and understanding this man was every time I called - and I called at least once a week for five weeks. By the final phone call, he said (and I quote), "Max, I'm inspired by your energy and how gung-ho you are about getting this done, but even if Peter Jackson called wanting the rights to King's Quest, we wouldn't do it." Carrie and I shrugged, and decided to rewrite the script.
It was called "Paragonia" for years (only within the last couple years has it been named "The WishKeeper"), and for the longest time centered around Grayson Brady as the main character. Grayson is still in the book (he is one of the humans who makes the True Love Wish), but Shea didn't make an appearance in our drafts until four or five years into writing the story. There were hardly even any fairies involved early on. It was about Grayson being a "lost king" of this fairytale world called Paragonia, and they needed him to return. The script was just missing a little something, and when I realized that the fairies were more interesting, especially this little minor character with a broken wing (she only had one broken wing at first), I rewrote the script and everything shifted from there.
Oh, and if the book becomes popular, Carrie will see plenty of reward!
I've seen some INCREDIBLE drawings on your WishKeeper page - does this mean there are illustrations in the book? What made you decide to include illustrations rather than allow the reader to conjure up their own images based on text descriptions?
Artist Dan Howard has done an incredible job with the cover and bringing Shea to life. Because I want this to be a young adult fantasy novel, I won't include illustrations throughout the book. Also, artists of Dan's caliber are very expensive!
Even though the trend for cover art on young adult novels tends to be much more obscure, mysterious and indirect, I felt that Shea is such a strong selling point for the story. I felt that she needed to be seen, and immediately. Middle Grade novels (a younger audience below that of young adult) tend to gravitate toward placing the main character on the cover...take Harry Potter for example...but since I am creating a new type of fairy, especially one with a very specific type of wing set, I wanted to bring Shea to life and let her be the hero she deserves to be. She wants to be seen! It's the least I can do. There are plenty of characters in the book that are not illustrated, and the audience will have more than enough free reign in imagining what they look like.
You come from a pretty creative family (artists, actors, models) - any writers in the family? How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
This is a difficult question to answer only because there wasn't ever one moment when I realized, "this is what I am going to do now". It was a very slow evolution that involved testing and practicing and curiosity. I will say, though, that storytelling has always been a very big part of my life. I grew up in a rather large family who was more talkative and outgoing than I ever was, or probably ever will be. I'm a relatively outgoing person, but when I sit down for Thanksgiving dinner with my boisterous family, it's nearly impossible to get a word in edgewise. Sometimes people just "talk" for the sake of complaining or being heard, but while my family complained about plenty of stuff, they complained while telling a story! I know that might sound odd, but since I can remember, if something was to be said in our family, it was done in a way to make it as entertaining as possible. I don't think we ever "try" to do it this way, it's just our make up and how we're built.
I was very lucky in that I grew up in a balanced household. My Dad was both a stellar athlete but also a lover of the arts (he was an athletic All-American at Notre Dame, and majored in Art). My sisters and I were encouraged to pursue whatever it was that interested us, but I'll never forget when my Dad told me I couldn't read anymore books about athletes (I had just finished Mickey Mantle's biography) and said I needed to read something that didn't have to do with sports. I thought he was nuts. But when I found a little children's adventure series called "Bunnicula", I had so much fun reading it that I couldn't stop. I then found Tom Sawyer, and that pushed me toward The Hobbit...and suddenly I was in love.
I think because of my family's constant (and at times, incessant) storytelling nature, I gravitated toward the world of storytelling once jumping into my collegiate level of studies. High school was a blur of sports, girls, self-consciousness and trying to fit in, but I opened up a lot more in college and discovered that I was actually pretty good at something. Writing. It's been an incredibly painful battle ever since. (I'm kidding...sort of.)
You now live in LA.
Yes, but my friends always tease me about my "author bio" since I have moved to and from Los Angeles five times since 2002. I've driven from Chicago to L.A. 10 times...in nine different cars. Eight of those trips were made solo. I mentioned earlier that I have a little determination.
My adventures between the two cities could fill a book. As a quick news flash, I do have a road trip book that I am writing. Because I have focused so much on The WishKeeper, though, I have barely just begun. The new book will have aliens in it. No, I never met any aliens on my road trips.
Why a Kickstarter campaign?
There are a lot of reasons for jumping into a Kickstarter campaign, and they primarily revolve around the very logical. It isn't cheap to release a book, and a very specific amount of money is needed to not only pay an artist to create the cover (Dan Howard has done an incredible job), but also to physically print the small run of books, to type-set and format the eBook, to pay a professional editor and graphic designer. These are all the boring reasons.
While I am obviously not a major publisher, I therefore don't have a marketing machine running full steam behind me and the book. With Kickstarter and because of its notoriety and the fact that it is the most well-known crowd-funding mechanism available, it also works as a marketing tool for the book. While I still need to do all of the leg work in terms of getting word out, Kickstarter helps promote the campaign to people who otherwise wouldn't hear about it.
Plus, it's just fun!
How long have you ever gone without taking a shower?
It's funny because I've noticed that the closer I get to a deadline, the longer it is between showers. Honestly though, I don't think I've ever gone longer than three days without a shower. Just thinking about it makes my skin crawl.
Drink of choice?
If you had asked me this ten years ago, I would have said, "Jack and Coke". Now that I'm older and the mere sound of "club" or "bar" curdles my stomach (try dating in L.A. and you'll know what I mean), I would have to say...Jack and Coke. I'm kidding, I'm kidding. A nice microbrew, or beer that I've never tried is fun, but my go to is Stella Artois.
You are a huge Notre Dame fan. Question: if you had to choose between a Notre Dame game and meeting your new girlfriend's parents, what would you do?
It's easy to answer since I am currently single, but seeing as though I am a severely logical person, I would have to answer this with, "which game?" I'll just leave it at that for now.
Isn't he fabulous? Seriously, I could talk to Max all day. On a porch. No, on a swing on a porch. Overlooking some incredible view while drinking lemonade. This book is just incredible. It's got a wonderful message about not letting anything get in the way of fulfilling your dreams - even when life hands you a really raw deal. And the names of the characters - Shea and Avery? I can't get over it.
To help make Max's wish come true, visit KICKSTARTER: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1997871021/not-just-another-pixie-story-a-young-adult-fantasy/?ref=kicktraq
To learn more about Max Timm's book The WishKeeper, go to:
FIND THE AUTHOR AT http://lostking9.wix.com/maxtimm and follow @iMaxTimm on Twitter at https://twitter.com/iMaxTimm
REVIEW AT: http://flamingcolours.com/: "It’s not often you find disability in fantasy novels, and even less often it is treated with such love and respect as this writer has done." -Emmy Kuipers at Flaming Colours