Author: Steve Heron
Illustrator: Tash Macfarlane
Publisher: Serenity Press
Genre: Middle Grade
Age Range: Nine to twelve-year-olds
Sometimes you need a special friend to give you wings…
Eleven-year-old Mitch is a regular kid who argues about cleaning his room, thinks his younger sister is a pain, and enjoys hanging out with his friends. But he’s finding life tough going. For one thing, he’s being picked on by Jason, both in class and on the football field, and he feels like the spirited Maddy is his only true friend. Even worse, his Fly-in, Fly-Out dad has become increasingly distant and angry, and Mitch misses their father-son time. In Mitch’s eyes, ‘stuff sucks’!
An encounter with a bedraggled magpie he names Maximus gives Mitch something to look forward to when he’s at home. As their connection grows, so too do other relationships in Mitch’s life, as his self-confidence grows, he starts to stand up for himself, and the reason for his dad’s moodiness is revealed.
Maximus is an engaging, warm-hearted story about family, friendships, self-confidence and reconciliation, with the gentle message that life is like riding a wave.
It’s an honour to welcome you to our #InterviewByBook questionnaire!
Let’s begin with ‘the plug’! Please tell us a bit about yourself in the most enticing way possible.
I am a down-to-earth story about a boy, his family and friends, and a magpie. My publisher says that I am gold. My editor says I shine. I say that I am a treasure trove, where every reader can discover something that will make them feel. Young and old will find me appealing because I’m about real stuff.
What makes you so funny, endearing and inspiring?
Funny – there are some very funny bits in the narrative, and Maddy’s sense of humour will bring a smile to your dial.
Endearing – Any story where kid meets animal (bird) and both help each other gain their mojo may moisten your eyes. The connections and reconnections between the characters will grip your heart.
Inspiring – Everyone will see a little of themselves somewhere in the story and relate to their situations. No matter what happens, there is an opportunity for hope. The story has some inspiring quotes.
How do you compare to other books in your approach / themes?
I stand out of course. My author has forty years of experience working with kids. Not only does he understand and ‘get’ kids he knows how to communicate to them.
Who do you think your author is most similar to in terms of writing style? Why?
Some similarities to John Marsden in his book The Year My Life Broke where he writes about a regular kid going through a tough bit. And Kate McCaffrey in her book Destroying Avalon which is for YA readers having slightly heavier themes.
What do you think of your illustrations / cover image? Do you have a favourite image? Why?
Tash Macfarlane has really captured the moments in the story warmly and artistically. I think my favourite image is the one where Mitch is in his bed with the pillow over his head … hmmm … or is it the one at the beach where Mitch writes ‘I like you’ in the sand? The cover is striking. One bookshop owner said, ‘It’s a little scary, but kids will like that.’
What kind of effect have you had on your readers so far? What’s the craziest or most heartwarming thing someone has ever said about you?
An earlier mock version of the book was used by a year six teacher who said, ‘The kids regularly wanted to stop me reading so they could discuss what was happening. I could see the kids were really connecting with the story.’ When one child found out who my author was, he said, ‘I knew the author is someone who knew us, kids that is.’
Where is the most unusual place you’ve ever visited or been read?
My author took me (my mini finger puppet Mini Maximus me and the manuscript) on a road trip around Australia. I visited lots of Aussie icons, but best of all was being kissed by a Quokka on Rottnest Island. My author has been invited to Qingdao in China to talk about me – I’m looking forward to that.
Multiple Choice Question:
Who would you most like to be in the hands of?
- Some totally famous author like Dr. Suess, Enid Blyton or Roald Dahl
- Some totally famous Royal like The Queen, Prince William or the Princess of Pop
- Some other-worldly creature that can spread the joy of your book across the entire universe
- Some random kid you sat next to at the bus stop
- Other. Would love to hear it!
I’d most like to be in the hands of any kid, including the random kid I sat next to in the bus, any kid who says, ‘Stuff sucks,’ and the one who can’t mark a footy.
Mostly I would like to be in the hands of a film-maker!!
The Nitty Gritty:
Where is your home and where can we buy you?
At your local bookshop.
Thanks so much for coming along and spilling all the deets about you! 😊
Maximus is being launched on Friday March 16 at 4PM at Dymocks Busselton, WA. Click the image for details.
Steve Heron OAM has a passion to power hope in children especially through children’s literature. His love of picture books is shown by his extensive collection. Steve craves to write quality picture books and novels that engage children, at the same time assist them with things life can throw at them. He aspires to keep it real and unreal for kids in his books.
In 2015, Steve was nominated in the Australian of the Year Awards Local Hero Category for Western Australia and 2015 Finalist in the Western Australian of the Year Awards, community section. In 2016, he was listed in the Queen’s Birthday honours and received an Order of Australia Medal for contribution to the social and emotional wellbeing of children. Steve is also a champion of the Liddle Things, as seen through his photography and writing.
Steve founded Nurture Works Foundation and developed the acclaimed ‘BUZ – Build Up Zone’ social and emotional programs and initiatives used in many schools throughout WA. Steve’s first middle grade novel ‘Maximus’ is to be published by Serenity Press in January 2018 and first Picture Book ‘Te Hui’s Lantern’ contract to be signed with Midnight Sun Publishers also in January 2018.