By way of introduction, let me just say, Max China isn’t my real name. My father was Polish, a WWII veteran who settled in England after the war and married my mother, who was English. I’m proud of my heritage and family name. It just doesn’t look good on the cover of a book. I also liked the idea of remaining incognito. Apart from that, there’s no difference between who I am and Max. We’re one and the same.
I read a lot as a youngster and when I was seventeen I promised myself one day I’d become a writer. Then life and reality got in the way. I followed my father into the construction industry, but it never quite satisfied my ambitions.
It would be a long time before I learned enough about life to write anything meaningful. I needed to find a voice, and in those days, just keeping body and soul together was a full time job. It didn’t allow the time or space for any kind of creative thinking.
In 2009, I met up with a friend. Once we’d covered just about everything else, we started talking about unfulfilled desires and ambitions. The subject of ‘the book I never wrote’ cropped up, as it often did, but this time when I got home, I started work on it straight away.
The book was about a man who’d never forgotten a ghostly tale he’d heard in his youth, and who by some quirk of fate, gets to stay in the house where the story took place. I wrote sixteen chapters of The Man in Brown before a stronger idea developed. At this point, I’ll just explain that I often wake up at three in the morning and dash a chapter out on my iPhone, emailing what I’ve done for editing on my computer later. This particular morning, I woke up with the idea for a completely different book and wrote for hours. I immediately shelved what I had been working on, and continued with Finding Her, the working title of my latest project.
By this time, I was using a piece of writing software, which was completely self-contained, and had its own version of Word embedded within. To cut a long story short, the software crashed, I lost everything. Frantic calls and emails to support followed, but I got nowhere. Thirty thousand words had gone. My heart sank.
I had the feeling I should get down as much as I could remember while it was reasonably fresh in my mind. So I wrote like a man possessed for the rest of the day and into the night. When I woke up in the morning, the idea for The Sister was born. I bent Finding Her into a new shape. Working in my spare time, including experimenting with several book covers, it took around three years to complete. Finding Her, the original title, was about a girl who’d never known her sister. She’d disappeared before she was born.
The story carried this pitch: Twenty-three years ago, a nurse went missing. Her younger sister never met her. Two people know the truth about what happened, but they’re not telling…The Sister introduced further depths to that story, a supernatural aspect and also introduced a character I’d developed during the writing of The Man in Brown: Miller, a private investigator who specialises in solving mysteries and finding missing people.
As a debut novelist, I wanted to be different and approach the story in somewhat unconventional manner. Looking back, I’m proud of what I achieved. At over two hundred thousand words, it’s a hefty book and it sold well, at one time reaching 81 in Amazon UK’s top one hundred kindle chart.
To date, I’ve released two books, The Sister, and The Life and Times of William Boule a completely self-contained spin off from my debut.
I’m currently working on a further three titles. The Night of The Mosquito, which is the story of an escaped psychiatric patient with a taste for blood, and a retired hypnotherapist who suffers a bad reaction to a mosquito bite. Set against the backdrop of an apocalyptic event, which wipes out power and communications in Europe, it’s a compelling thriller filled with drama and suspense. A story with a powerful message, it’s scheduled for release in a couple of months. Next up is Don’t Turn on The Light, (an expansion of a short story I released sometime back), and then The Man in Brown, which I mentioned earlier.
A big thank you to Max China for his story.