Max West Interview
Tell us a little about yourself and your work.
My professional name is Max West and I’m originally from New York City. I live in Fargo, North Dakota, where I write, draw and create my comics Sunnyville Stories . I hold a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Baruch
College and went to night classes at the School of Visual Arts. As for Sunnyville, it’s a comics saga that tells of a remote hamlet deep in the wilderness; surrounded by vast forest and mountains, time stands still here.
The inhabitants of the village are anthropomorphic animals dressed traditionally who go about their daily business as the outside world constantly changes. The protagonists of the series are two anthropomorphic cats: Rusty Duncan, a wisecracking city boy, and Samantha “Sam” Macgregor, a sweet country girl. The two have various adventures in town and in the vast wilderness.
You’ve got 20 words to sell your work. Tempt us.
Sunnyville Stories is a tale about a vast universe; it’s there and continues to be after you put it down.
Where do you like to write?
I like to write in front of my computer, usually with notes and a story treatment by my side.
Is there anything you must have in order to write?
For inspiration, I like to have the TV on or at least some kind of music. I also keep my story treatment by my side. It works as a loose blueprint so it gives me something to work with but enough leeway to improvise and add in
What books have influenced you most, both as a person and as an author?
Since I write comics, I draw inspiration from the comics. I like the books that collect the comic strip Peanuts by Charles Schulz. The drawing is simple but the writing is complex as Schulz delved into deep themes of emotions and existentialism or just the everyday. As for literature, the work of JRR Tolkien inspired my worldbuilding. While Sunnyville doesn’t have the level of mythos of Middle Earth, I made it a point to develop the world first that Rusty and Sam inhabited. I wanted to convey that it was a real world that was always there and will continue to be there when you put the work down. I spent most of 2009 writing backstories for the characters, writing notes about the town, the surrounding area, the economy of Sunnyville’s surrounding and so on.
What is the one thing that has helped you develop most as an author?
I had a drive to keep going in spite of the odds being stacked against me. In spite of all the failure I’ve had, I still wanted to keep going.
What do you want to achieve most from your writing?
Is there something specific you do to improve your writing?
I write whenever I can by putting down notes, strange ideas and even partial scripts. Besides being practice, it helps me to keep thinking of new and unusual ideas. It also may come in handy for future material.
What is the ideal relationship between editor and author?
I feel an editor should be more of a coach to an author than some tinpot dictator. I’ve always resented control or political correctness getting in the way of my story or saying what I want. I don’t want an editor looking over my shoulder and saying “no, you can’t do that”.
If you had a direct line to someone who loves your writing, what would you say?
If you had a direct line to someone who hates your writing, what would you say?
Go play in rush hour traffic.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
Keep working at it. Be persistent. You will have failures, maybe even many of them. Also learn how to market yourself; there’s no shortage of books and resources out there or learning self-promotion.
What does your writing future hold for you?
I want to tell more stories with Rusty & Sam as well as the world of Sunnyville. Besides more mundane topics like romance, drama, loss, and humor, I hope to delve more into the realms of the fantastic like technology and even time travel.
How have you set about the task of creating enticing cover art?
Since I’m an artist too, I set about creating something with traditional media (considered an oddity now in the age of digital art) and make it eye catching by use of primary colors or striking color combinations. I’ll make thumbnail sketches of ideas, do preparation sketches and color studies and then paint the final version.
How often do you read? What genre?
I don’t get to read as much as I used to. I’m not picky. I’ve read many things like science fiction, fantasy, horror, criminal or general fiction.
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Best of luck in the