The Writer’s Block: An Interview with Max Brallier

When my son brought home The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier, I called dibs. Luckily, I won the rock, paper, scissors match and I got to read the book first. I already reviewed the book a few weeks ago, but was super jazzed to have Max join us on “The Writer’s Block.”

Max

Middle Grade Mafia: I see you have written a variety of books, did you always have the writing bug?

Max Brallier: Not always. From an early age, I knew I wanted to do something creative. But I didn’t know if that was write comics, work on movies, draw stuff. I really wasn’t sure. But I loved adventure stories. I didn’t start writing creatively, really, until I was in college. I did some movie stuff in college, too, but it always had to involve other people. I hated that. I’d write a movie script, but then you’d have to find someone to make it and ask all your friends for favors and I was just too shy and awkward for that. But when you write a book and you get to the end – the book’s done! I like that part.

MGM: Several of your titles are licensed properties (Regular Show, Adventure Time, etc.), how did you get involved with these books?

MB: After college, I got a job in book publishing. I was able to meet editors and publishers and agents and all sorts of people. So I’d basically just beg them for writing jobs – and one of those jobs ended up being an Adventure Time book. I didn’t mess up the project too bad, so I got a few more! It was many years of bugging and harassing people, though. 

MGM: What inspired you to write for The Last Kids on Earth? When did the idea hit you that said “I need to write this book?”

The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier

MB: It was a combination of things. I had finished doing some licensed stuff, and was sort of unsure what to do next. I felt stuck. Then my parents sold the house I grew up in and I had to go home, go through all my old toys, my old DVDs, old books, old comics, all that stuff – and in doing that, I had this kind of realization that all the stuff I loved when I was a kid – it was the same stuff I loved now. So I kind of threw it all in a pot: giant monsters, zombies, cool vehicles, gadgets, buddies, a tree house (I had one when I was a kid) – and the Last Kids on Earth came out. And when I started writing it, it came to me really easy compared to the other stuff I had been working on – so I felt like, y’know, this is what I should be writing.

MGM: The book uses a blend of words and pictures to tell the story, how did you work with  illustrator Douglas Holgate to ensure your vision was expressed?  

MB: People always find it sort of surprising, but I really didn’t work closely with Douglas. My editor showed me his work and said they were thinking about using him – and I immediately said yes, yes, yes, yes. Like, YES. He was so clearly perfect. Then the manuscript went off to him, he illustrated it, and it came back to me, like, almost totally done. I’d see bits in pieces as he was working, tut the character designs, the monster designs, everything – that was all him. It still amazes me that it turned out so perfectly. All that credit goes to Douglas, my editor Leila, and the art director Jim.

MGM: You wrote the Eerie Elementary series under the name Jack Chabert, what was the reason for the separation between that series and your other work?

MB: There’s really not a fun or interesting reason (I wish there was!). It was just a moment where I was doing a lot of different series at once, and Eerie Elementary was for a different age and audience, and we felt like it was right to split them up.

MGM: I grew up watching the old monster movies. please share your influences and how they shaped you as an author.

MB: Movies actually influenced me more than books. The big ones were Star Wars, Indiana Jones, James Bond, the Goonies, Labyrinth, the Wizard, King Kong vs Godzilla, Robin Hood, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, the Sandlot – and a million others. Saturday morning cartoons, too – mostly Transformers, G.I. Joe, James Bond Jr. – I loved that stuff. In terms of books, it was a lot of X-Men, Spider-Man, Tin Tin, the Bone series, Calvin & Hobbes, the Hardy Boys, Goosebumps, and some specific things like the first Where’s Waldo, Bart Simpsons’ Guide to Life, and certainly a bunch more that I can’t think of right now.

MGM: What were the last three MG books you’ve read?

MB: Study Hall of Justice, Star Wars: The Scoundrel, the Princess, and the Farmboy, and Caveboy Dave. I was lucky enough to read an early copy of Caveboy Dave – it comes out in November – it’s hilarious.

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Thanks to Max for joining us. To learn more about all of his books, visit his website and follow him on Twitter.

To buy this book now, click here!

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