Friday, November 3, 2017

Looking Forward, Looking Back: Max Booth Future Sleuth

Today, I’m handing over the blog reigns to a group of voracious readers and up-and-coming book reviewers from Years 3 and 4 at Girton Grammar School in Bendigo.  Maddi, Jacob, Bronte, Max, Lincoln, William and Sarah recently read Tape Escape and Selfie Search from the Max Booth Future Sleuth series by author, Cameron Macintosh, and illustrator, Dave Atze.  To mark the launch of the second book, Selfie Search, the students put together some probing questions and Cameron was kind enough to provide us with some intriguing answers.

Into the future . . . to discover the past!

Cartoon style book cover of boy and robot dog taking selfie with iphone.
Selfie Search (Oct 2017), book 2 in the series
Max Booth Super Sleuth, for ages 8-10.

What gave you the main idea for the book [series]?  (Jacob 10)

The main idea came about after a trip to Pompeii, in Italy. As you probably know, Pompeii was buried by volcanic ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in the year 79 CE. While I was there I saw lots of objects that had been buried under ash and rubble for most of that time. Even seemingly boring objects like lamps and combs, I found really interesting. I couldn’t help wondering who they’d belonged to and how they’d been used. All of this made me wonder how people in the future will react when they come across objects that we use today, or that people have used in the last few decades. Then I thought, ‘I just need a future character who finds today’s objects as interesting as I found the objects in Pompeii!’. And that’s how Max was born!

How did you get the idea of setting Tape Escape in the future?   (Bronte 10)

I’d written a few science fiction stories before, and found them so much fun to write that I wanted to set stories further and further into the future. Chances are, the world will become even more weird and wonderful as technology develops, and thinking about this gives me lots of story ideas. I’ll be very happy if I live to see the day that we all have robo-pets (as long as we can still have real ones too!) 

What inspired you to write Selfie Search?  (Maddi 9)  (Max 10) 

The idea for Selfie Search was sparked during a walk through the National Gallery of Victoria, in Melbourne, last year. I couldn’t help noticing how many people were taking selfies in front of the artworks rather than actually looking at them and enjoying them. I actually found it pretty funny, and thought that our current obsession with phones and selfies might be something Max could have a giggle about when he finds a mobile phone from 2017.

"I think that [Selfie Search] is a good book with a lot of imagination. It’s funny and exotic and a book that I would read again! It also encourages me to use my imagination and think outside the box.  (Maddi 9)

Why did you decide to write about people in the future?  (William 9)

The main reason I like writing about people in the future is because it’s so much fun to imagine how the world will be in future centuries, and how people will live alongside new technologies. I also like the fact that when you write about the future, it’s all in your imagination, so no one can tell you you’ve got the facts wrong!

Why did you decide to put your books four centuries into the future?  (Sarah 9)

The main reason I wanted to set the books so far into the future was to make it more likely that the objects Max investigates would be old enough for people to have forgotten about. Four hundred years felt about the right length of time for that, and also seemed long enough for some huge changes to have taken place in the way most people live.

Max and his robot dog, Oscar, are on a mission!

Cartoon style book cover of boy holding cassette tape and robot dog, high over city buildings.
Tape Escape (Aug 2017), book 1 in the series
Max Booth Super Sleuth, for ages 8-10.

Why did you make Max an orphan?  (William 9)

Well (keep it a secret…) but Max may or may not be an orphan… I won’t say much more about that – you’ll just have to look out for further adventures! But the fact that he doesn’t live with family means that he can get up to all sorts of adventures at all times of the day and night. Deep down, though, Max misses living with his family, and would do anything to see them again. As for me, it definitely makes it easier to think up storylines when you’re writing about a character with so much freedom.

Where did you get the names for the characters?  (Sarah 9)

Well, I wanted something short and snappy for the main character, so Max fitted him nicely. And Oscar is named after my friend’s awesome Jack Russell Terrier, who lived in our sharehouse while I was writing Tape Escape!

What made you think of a beagle bot?  (Maddi 9)

Beagles are known for their incredible sense of smell, so I thought they’d make very highly-skilled robot dogs. But probably the main reason is that ‘beagle’ and ‘bot’ sound so good together!

Is there school in the future? Does Max go to school?  (Sarah 9)

There is school in the future (sorry if that’s bad news!) but for better or worse, Max doesn’t go. He misses out on lots of opportunities because of this, but hopefully he gets lots of education from the work he does for Jessie.

"I thought that Max Booth Tape Escape was a great book. I like how its people from the future discover things from around our time and put them in museums just like we do..."  (Jacob 10)

Why did you decide to write [Tape Escape] about a cassette tape?  (William 9)

When I was a kid, cassette tapes were the main way we recorded and shared music with each other. And I’m probably the only person on Earth who still has a cassette player in their car stereo, so I thought cassette tapes were worth celebrating in a story! Also, they’ve become a bit cool again – lots of young bands are now releasing their music on cassette, which I find very exciting.

How big was the packing case Max was living in?  (Sarah 9)

It’s about 1m x 1m x 1m. So it’s definitely very cosy!

Reading the fine print . . .

When did you write your first book?  (Bronte 10)

I’ve been writing stories since primary school, but I wrote my first published book in 2008. That wasn’t a story though – it was a non-fiction book about the Beaconsfield Mine disaster, when two miners got stuck underground in a Tasmanian goldmine for two weeks, in 2006.

How many books have you written?   Max (10)

So far, I’ve written about 85 books. It sounds like a lot, but most of them are pretty short!

Are most of your books about the future?  (Lincoln 9)

Most of them have been, in the last few years, but I also write a lot of historical non-fiction, so I’m often researching and writing about people and events from the past too.

How many do you plan to have of this series in the future?  (Jacob 10 )

Gosh, hundreds, I hope! At the moment though, I’ve got pretty strong ideas for the next three, which is more than enough to think about for the time being!

When is your next book coming out?  (Maddi 9)

Max’s next adventure is coming out in 2018, hopefully in the first half of the year. I don’t know the exact date yet, but I’ll let you all know as soon as I do.

Up close with Cameron Macintosh

Casual close up author Cameron Macintosh, red-toned monochromatic image.
Cameron Macintosh, author of children's series
Max Booth Super Sleuth

Where are you from?  (Lincoln 9)

I’m from the 21st century, and I live in Melbourne!

What’s your favourite book you’ve written?  (Lincoln 9)

I think Tape Escape is probably my favourite so far. I rewrote it so many times that I ended up feeling quite close to the characters. I worked on it, on-and-off, for about three years, so finally seeing it in print was a huge thrill after all of that time and work.

What’s your favourite book you’ve read?  (Lincoln 9)

There are so many, but if I had to choose, I’d probably say Boy, by Roald Dahl. It’s an autobiography, about his childhood in Norway and the UK. I reread it every few years – some of it’s incredibly funny, but he also talks a lot about his homesickness when he went to boarding school, and a lot of other difficult times he went through. Boy also gives you some really interesting insights about where he got some of the ideas for his most famous stories – particularly Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

When you were a kid, did anyone inspire you?  (Max 10)

The people who inspired me most when I was a kid were mainly cricketers and rock musicians! But in terms of writing, I’d say I was probably most inspired by Dr Seuss. I wanted to write crazy rhyming stories like his, and draw cartoon illustrations to go with them. Unfortunately, my drawing skills need a lot of work before that dream can come true…

When did you start your career?  (Jacob 10)

I started my career as a writer when my first book was accepted for publication in 2008, but I’d been working as an editor, making corrections and (hopefully!) improvements to other people’s books for a few years before that.

What do you enjoy outside of writing?  (Bronte 10) 

I do a lot of reading, of course, but I also love drawing, guitar playing and long distance running. Eating and sleeping are two of my favourite hobbies as well!

Thank you, Cameron, for including us on your blog tour! It was great to learn about your writing background and the books you enjoy reading yourself. It was also brilliant to hear how the Max Booth Future Sleuth series was created and to glean a little about what might be ahead in the adventures of Max and Oscar (ssh! we can keep a secret!).  Congratulations to Cameron Macintosh and illustrator, Dave Atze on book two, Selfie Search. We’re all looking forward to future books  - no pun intended! - in the series.

Cameron would like to extend his thanks to Bronte, Jacob, Max, Lincoln, Maddi, William and Sarah for their wonderful questions, and to Mrs Dianne Kolenaty for co-ordinating the reading group.

It was enlightening and great fun to share the Cereal Readers’ blog with such delightful readers and curious minds. Thank you for your questions, story summaries and reviews. I hope we can do it again soon!

Marielle Rebbechi

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