What's more exciting than discovering new writing talent? Especially when it is from a teenager? I've hosted young people here before (We have a ten-year-old in our family who already has written a novel, and our son Max wrote a novel "Movies of Doom" when he was eight. We gave him the full author treatment, getting blurbs from writer friends, writing a book club set of questions , getting an author photo, too.) So when writer/producer/comedienne /friend Bari Alyse Rudin told me about her talented 17-year-old son, who had already written many books available for purchase, I asked to see a few pages. To my astonishment, they were truly great! Professional! Sophisticated, too. So I wanted to host him on my blog to support him.
Thank you so much, Bari, and huge thanks to Max!
I'm astonished that you are so good a writer at such a young age. When did you first start writing?
Besides assignments for school, I first started writing when I was in fifth grade. In fifth and sixth grade, my friend Sebastian and I came up with many ideas for books that we wanted to write. Over the phone, we’d work together on the start of different stories, never ending up finishing them. However, working on those stories was incredibly fun, and I realized that I loved storytelling. Also, I’ve always had a tendency to daydream and think through different scenarios in my head. Combined with my interest in astronomy, physics, and other sciences, this led to questions about how humans might live in space in the future. By the time I was a high school freshman, I was determined to start and finish a book on my own. That book ended up as my first, A Truly Dead Rock.
Where do you find inspiration? What else do you love besides writing? What books inspire you?
The inspiration for my books started with natural wonders, the different landscapes that exist in space and how they might look. How does a sunset look on the Moon or Venus? Then, I began to think about manmade wonders. How would the sky of a domed city or a large space station look? From these images of beauty, I wrote about the people that would get to see them in the distant future and what sorts of conflicts they might face in their lives.
Besides writing, I enjoy making educational YouTube videos and podcasts. In doing so, I research topics that interest me in science or history and explain them in an intuitive way. This is very fun for me, because I get to teach and because I get to learn. Whenever there’s something I wonder about, I want to research it so that I can teach others about it through my videos or through my writing.
My favorite sci-fi books are Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, which were a great inspiration for me. These books outline a detailed history of an inhabited Mars for hundreds of years in the future. They are very long books and include vivid descriptions of the different landscapes at different times in Martian history. These beautiful scenes inspired me to bring other uninhabited parts of the universe to life. I also very much enjoyed Jurassic Park and The Lost World by Michael Crichton. I watched the Jurassic Park movies when I was ten and couldn’t stop watching them over and over. They drew me into sci-fi, and when I found out that there were books behind them, I immediately decided to read them. Crichton’s explanations of complex topics in science and math always made sense, and I enjoyed the logical flow. Understanding the science behind the science fiction enhanced the experience of reading.
You are incredibly prolific! I want to know your secret!
It’s no secret! I start with the beautiful things that exist out in the universe then describe them like I have seen them myself. Beyond that, I use my experiences with my family, my friends, and the world to craft a sensible story. The different places humans might live in the future could be incredibly distinct from Earth, but the human mind would remain the same, and for the most part, so would our social experiences. Also, practice is important to improve one’s craft. Description used to be much easier for me than dialogue, and it still comes more naturally to me today. However, with my second and third books, I made sure to include more dialogue in the storytelling so that I could get better at it, and I think my work has paid off! When you start your writing with something that truly inspires you, you are bound to get good results, and in the areas that are lacking, the more you practice, the better you’ll be. By straying outside of your comfort zone, you will develop a wide array of talents.
Where do you see your career in five years? What would you most love to happen?
In five years, I see myself having published five more books. I have many more story ideas that share continuity with the first three I’ve written, and I also have ideas that stray far from them. I’d like to amass a larger readership, because I love hearing that the ideas in my books have inspired other people’s imaginations. Furthermore, I’ll be graduating high school this year and going to college next year. I want to get a degree in physics and become a physicist. The concepts I’ll learn will help me in writing more scientifically accurate stories and give me plenty more “what if” questions to think about. Ultimately, I’d love to see my books made into movies one day, because science-fiction movies have inspired me just as much as sci-fi books have (especially when I was younger). In the future, it would be amazing if I could make a living off of writing.
What's obsessing you now and why?
Right now, I’ve been thinking a lot about evolution and the power of natural selection. I’ve been reading a web project called “Serina: A Natural History of the World of Birds,” which is about a planet populated solely by canaries (as well as plants, fish, and insects). The project chronicles the evolution of different species in a collection of articles from different time periods after the introduction of the canaries up to a few hundred million years. The way that the pressures of ecological niches can transform these birds into distinctly un-bird-like forms is astonishing to me (such as a species resembling whales and another with nearly human intelligence). Since I usually focus more on physics than biology, this thought experiment has been new and interesting to me, and I’ve been thinking more about the effects that genetic modification could have in my book series. Harkening back to my old favorite Jurassic Park, I’ve been thinking about genetically modifying ravens to become more similar to their velociraptor ancestors.
What question didn't I ask that I should have?
“What are your books about? What are you planning to write next?”
So far, my books have been about people living in a space-faring society, one hundred years in the future. My first trilogy, The Solar System Century, has detailed the progression of the 22nd century and all of the interesting technological and political events that might occur in that time period. It follows the story of the Possaic family, generation by generation. Next up, I’m reeling in the timespan and writing a book that takes place in the near future, twenty years from now. What’s fun about writing a book that takes place in the near future is that the world that the characters live in is much more familiar to me, and I have greatly enjoyed thinking about how the next few decades of history might play out. From personal computing to genetics, the world of the near future is more advanced than our own, but the culture and society is much more familiar. I’m excited to try something new and think about the backstory to my first few novels.
In order of publication, my books are A Truly Dead Rock, A Bottled Up Flame, and A Somewhat Odd Start. You can easily find the links on my website, gravitymaxmedia.com, under the “My Books” tab to order them in paperback or as ebooks. If you want to read the first few pages of my books to get a preview, they are also available under that same tab on my website. Furthermore, if you are interested in watching my YouTube videos or my podcast, you can find them on my YouTube channel, Gravity Max. The link to my channel is on my website under the “YouTube Channels” tab. Thank you very much to Caroline Leavitt for putting me on her blog! I feel honored that she took an interest in my writing.