What is the significance of having Max be 12?

I’m fascinated by that netherworld in which you’re intensely aware of no longer being a little kid but not yet under the social and chemical assault of teen-hood. There’s nothing like that first, giddy taste of liberation, of independence – like, say, going to a café with a friend and ordering a hot chocolate, sitting at a table, being there, on your own, out in the world.


How were you able to travel back in time and remember what it’s like to be that age?

Damned if I know – I was just there. I hope it worked.

How much of the book is based on real events?

I’d never written fiction, so I started out by more or less reporting; a couple of Max’s mini-adventures are straight from my life. As I gained confidence I began to — how else to put it? — make stuff up. 


Where did the title come from?

Max, the narrator, is always going off on tangents. To get back on track he says, “Anyway,…”

Max sees the family trip to summer camp as a chance to reinvent himself. Why did you want to write about that?

He’s at that time in life when kids start to realize that they can have real control over who they are, over how they are. And Max isn’t happy about the way he’s turning out: a good, i.e, boring kid — that’s how he sees himself — in the shadow of his best friend. So I tossed him into a sea of strangers to give him a shot at being the person he’d like to be: someone wild, bold, unpredictable, maybe even a little dangerous.


He also has to learn how to deal with a bully. What message do you hope people get out of that storyline?

Bullies are individuals; I hope there’s some nuance to the Wiley character. Max eventually thinks he’s figured out what to do about Wiley, and let’s just say the results are mixed — as they’re bound to be in just about every real-life situation, I bet. There’s no cathartic “Now, that’s how you deal with a bully!” stuff.


What’s with the footnotes?

When I reviewed one of David Foster Wallace’s amazing essay collections (for the Union-Tribune!) I put in 30 of what I hoped were mostly fun and funny footnotes as a kind of hommage, and found I loved writing them. So when Max started throwing in asides, I included them as footnotes. “Anyway*” has 138 of them, but early drafts had a lot more — almost 200 at one point. Winnowing them down was easy, though: My wife just said, “Take out the ones that aren’t any good.”


What do they enable you to do as a storyteller?

You get to keep all kinds of neat-o things that don’t fit into the main story, or that would disrupt the narrative flow if they were included in the text. And since they’re in Max’s voice, they were a handy shortcut to his personality.

What does your daughter think of the book?

Let’s ask her. Hey, Zoe! (Zoe: “The first time I read it was ages ago, back when it was only a draft, still included most of my friends’ names, and I was still part of the 8-12 ‘suggested’ age group. Although it’s changed so much since then I still can’t believe how cool it is that my dad wrote a book, and I could probably read it a thousand times over again. And in my very biased opinion I think ‘Anyway*’ is a book that so many kids will enjoy and love just like I do.”)

to read the whole interview click:

Pages: 1 2 3

Buy the book