Monday, December 7, 2009

Interview with James D. Maxon, Cat Man and Upcoming Author

This week The Christian Fiction Blog Review is touring The Cat That Made Nothing Something Again by James D. Maxon (NOT to be confused, by the way, with The Cat Who... series). Once I began reading this book, I felt like I had discovered a precious little gem that has been hiding from the view of many, kind of like a certain turtle in the tale. And once I started learning about the author, I came to the conclusion that here, too, was one of God's precious treasures who only a few know about so far. I believe God has brought him out of circumstances that could easily have stifled someone else and raised up a young man who can reach others, especially youth that might have had some of his struggles. You'll see what I mean as you read the interview. And now, may I introduce you to James. D. Maxon.

Thank you for taking time to answer a few questions and chat a bit with me.
“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to discuss my story.”

First of all, could you share a little with us about you personally? Origin, family, 'real life' occupation and interests?
“I was born in Anchorage, Alaska, and at the age of three my parents were divorced so I moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota with my Mother, Sister, Aunt and Grandmother. I’ve been in Minnesota ever since and now live with my wife, Cindy, in a suburb of Minneapolis. I also just recently became a father of a little girl who is now six months old.
“I graduated from a Computer Graphics / Multimedia college which is my main career path. I have also composed Electronica style music, dabbled in drawing--along with other forms of visual art--developed Web sites, print materials, and I work as a Senior Designer at an advertising company as well as contribute my experience in computer technology.
“For me I consider writing as just another avenue to express myself creatively. There are many tools for creative expression, and writing just so happens to be one of the best. There are many opinions out there as to what classifies one as ‘a writer’ but for me it started before I even put ‘a pencil to paper’ so to say. The stories are inside of you, the tool is simply a way of getting them out.
“Whenever I have a moment of free time I like to watch anime, play Video Games, write (of course), read, and play racquetball.”

Congratulations on your daughter. I know she must be the joy of your life.
How did you come to a personal relationship with Jesus?

“My earliest memory of developing a relationship with God comes when I was around five-years-old. I had suffered from a barrage of frightful dreams, and one night my mother told me to call on the name of God while I slept. The next night I dreamt that I was standing by a lake and a large, white sea dragon reared its head out of the water and was about to attack me when I shouted out the name ‘Jesus.’ The dragon hesitated, and then I scolded it, shortly after it disappeared back into the water (with its head hung low). I then started to walk down the path when I passed by a clamshell, which somehow sucked me inside. I was in what looked to be a dark cave with pillars all around me. Behind the pillars were the red eyes and twisted voices of demons. I called out the name of God again and they suddenly fled, screaming in fear.
“In my story, ‘The Cat That Made Nothing Something Again,’ when the cat is about to be attacked by the enemy (sponges) he pauses to pray. This causes a fear response in the sponges, which came directly from my own situation in my childhood dreams.”

Wow, that's an amazing story. And another example of how God reaches down to each of us right where we are. It's so good that you had a mother who was able to direct you to calling on God.So what led you to write?
“Ever since I can remember, my mother would read me story books. They have always been a part of my life, and it was only natural for me to try and write my own. When I was thirteen my mother bought me a Smith Corona Typewriter, and that was the beginning of my first attempts to write. I actually started working on my wizard story back then, which many years later I’m getting close to finishing as my first full-length novel.
“What’s ironic is that I grew up with a learning disability and spent most of my school days in Special Education. English was one of my most difficult topics, but in High School I wanted to master my weaknesses and so I studied long and hard to understand the written word. In doing so I grew a fondness for writing.”

Considering all the things you do now, it's hard to imagine you had a learning disability. That in itself should be an encouragement to young people who are struggling though their own difficulties.
What kind of books do you like to read yourself? Has your own writing been influenced by any authors or books in particular?

“I tend to read several books at a time, including listening to audio books in my car on my way to and from work. I like the genre of Speculative Fiction (which is mainly Fantasy and SF) and usually ones written towards youth. Also, I am often reading a non-fiction book to help improve my skills. For example, right now I’m reading ‘Webster's New World Punctuation,’ by Geraldine Woods.
“I believe that every writer is asked questions like, ‘what famous writer are you most like?’ at one point in their lives. Where I understand the reason for the question, I think if a writer pulls a name out of their hat they risk being accused of being a copycat. The truth is that reading books dose influence a writer, but they do not make the writer. As C.S. Lewis said, ‘Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.’
“That said, I’d say the writer whose works most influenced me is Michael Ende, who is probably best known as the author of “The Neverending Story.” If I can become even half the writer he was, then I will have achieved more than I could have dreamed.”

Good answer. I never ask anyone if he or she is comparable to another author; No one, for example, is comparable to C. S. Lewis, for example, yet his work has profoundly influenced scads of writers.
I read some of your blogs at It seems that you have a special feeling for kids?

“To be honest, most of my life I have felt uncomfortable around kids. I had to grow up pretty fast and there was a lot I missed out on. When around children I often saw their behavior as odd and something I had a hard time relating to.
“Now that I’m older I’m becoming less like a grownup and more like a child . But seriously, my heart goes out to the children who are struggling as I did. Children often have negative messages locked into their hearts from a young age, and it is my desire to reach them by providing messages of faith, hope, and insight before the negative ones get engraved into their hearts and minds.
“My review blog is mainly provided to aid parents in knowing what their children are reading. Both for the sake of the parent and the child; sometimes parents can be overprotective. As I say on my site, ‘education not isolation.’ In each of my reviews I provide an opportunity for discussion. As I stated in an article I did in the Minnesota Christian Chronicle (, it is important for children to discuss the stories they read. My site is there to make it a little easier for parents to do so.”

I also noticed a lot of the reviews are for manga. Is that due to your personal preferences or another reason?

“For those who don’t know, manga is similar to comics. They are Japanese graphic novels. I actually didn’t start reading manga until a few years ago. The reason for me adding them to my reviews is due to their increased popularity among children and teens today, and I think it’s important for parents to know what their children are reading.
“Another reason is that I am fond of anime (Japanese animation), and a lot of anime originates from manga.”

Where did the idea for TCTMNSA come from?

“The house I grew up in had many cats, and I had an idea to write a fairytale story about one in particular named Sam, who was my mother’s favorite cat. I wanted to write a story about him mainly for her, but after receiving such positive feedback from people I decided to put the story into book format.”

Just curious, do you prefer cats or dogs, and do you have any pets yourself?

“If you asked me this question a few years ago I’d have definitely said that I like cats better. However, after my wife convinced me to get a dog I have to say he is the best dog I’ve ever known. He is a Japanese dog called a Shiba Inu, which looks similar to a fox. Needless to say he won me over. We also have a cat who we nicknamed Sybil because one minute she is the sweetest cat in the world and the next the worst terror one can imagine. At this point I have to say in general I like cats better, but right now I like my dog the best.

In your own words, could you give us a brief summary of The Cat That Made Nothing Something Again?

“In a fairytale land, there is a cat that lives in a small town. He is a selfishly content cat, having everything he could hope for, but there is one problem: life is boring. The reason for his dull existence has to do with a pair of living-sponges that drained the moisture from everything and everyone. Children forgot how to play, birds forgot how to sing, trees dried up, and adults never engaged in anything fun or exciting.
“Taking it upon himself to get things back to normal, the cat goes on a journey to figure out a way to return the moisture. Along the way, he meets some colorful characters, including a wise old turtle, a seemingly sinister troll, a smart little bird, a childish fool/jester, and a simple seed who remind him how important it is for people to do what’s right and take care of each other.
“Of course good wins out over evil in the end, and the moisture returns, but in a most unusual way. Anyone who has ever owned a house cat will appreciate the irony in the villains’ demise.”

You're right about the irony. I laughed when I got to that part. I didn't see it coming, either.
What do you hope readers will take away with them after reading the story?

“First of all I hope that the reader would have enjoyed reading the story, and I don’t mean just children. Michael Ende used to say that he wrote for children ages eight to eighty. I write in a way that can reach all ages, providing stories that children can understand, yet still giving enough depth and symbolism for adults to relate to. I believe I have achieved this with TCTMNSA.
“There are several messages in the story, but the main one is that of doing for others as you would have them do for you. In other words, it’s a story that attempts to thwart the idea of selfishness.
“One of the other main messages is that of worth. I created a character called ‘the seed.’ The nameless cat finds the seed--which a farmer dropped by accident in the middle of the path--and tries to help him to no avail. He decides that the best course of action is to eat the seed and put him out of his misery. Later in the story we find that the seed becomes the main tool in defeating the dreaded sponges. The message here is that every life, no matter how hopeless it seems, has a purpose.”

Some worthwhile goals, and I believe you have succeeded if my own reaction counts.
Do you have any more books in the wings or in the works?

“I'm currently working on a story about a 15-year-old boy who dreams of becoming a wizard. Even though his father is known throughout the land as a powerful wizard, both he and his mother have forbidden Traphis from learning magic. A year after the death of his father, Traphis finds new doors opening and the world of magic more than he bargained for.”

Thanks again for chatting with us. I hope we'll be seeing a lot more of your writing in the future.
“It was my pleasure. Readers can follow my latest updates on Facebook ( and I post new reviews weekly at (or you can follow on Twitter: Please feel free to drop by and share your thoughts.

Check out these other member blogs this week for more info.

1 comment:

David Meigs said...

I had never heard of James until now. Thank you for introducing him to us. His book sounds fascinating.