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  Indiana Jones - Specials

INTERVIEW - Max McCoy


 

I had the chance to ask author Max McCoy some questions. He wrote four Indiana Jones novels including Indiana Jones and the Philosopher's Stone, Indiana Jones and the Dinosaur Eggs, Indiana Jones and the Hollow Earth and Indiana Jones and the Secret of the Sphinx.

March 30,2003


Full Interview


  1. Although you give some details on your web site I should like to know: Has it always been your dream to become an author or how did it happen that you have become one?

I knew since I was in grade school that I would be a writer. Don't ask me how, I just knew, and by the time I was in junior high I was writing stories that featured my friends. That's what I did instead of doing my homework. I was a lousy student, and in high school my guidance counselor suggested I "give up these pipe dreams" of being a writer. Well, I didn't, and after getting a job at a local newspaper (where I learned that your stories are only as good as the questions you ask), I began freelancing stories to magazines under the pseudonym "Rheuben Buckner." Later, I met Greg Tobin, a Doubleday editor,at the first writing workshop I ever went to. That lead to THE SIXTH RIDER, which was published in 1991 and won (ironically, it would seem) the Medicine Pipe Bearer's Award from the Western Writers of America.


2. I read that you had been offered to write the Indiana Jones books. What was your trigger / motivation to accept the offer?


Another editor at Bantam, Tom Dupree, suggested that I try my hand at the Indy books because he liked the way I handled action. So, I wrote a sample that became the opening chapter of PHILOSOPHER's STONE. I remembered seeing RAIDERS at a drive-in movie in Joplin, Mo., when it first came out. I had no idea what this movie with the odd-sounding name was about, but I was hooked (like everyone else) in the first five minutes. I remember sitting there thinking how wonderful it was that somebody actually got paid to write this stuff. Little did I know that Lucasfilm, through Bantam, would eventually ask me. And, I got to come up with my own plots for my four Indy books--that was important.


  3. What about licensing? Have you ever had contact to George Lucas or other officials of Lucas Film? Were there any conditions concerning the story?

The novels were licensed by Lucasfilm. While George Lucas approved the final manuscripts, I dealt regularly with Lucy Autry Wilson, one of his longest-tenured and most trusted associates. And, I dealt with a number of continuity people. I didn't like some of the limitations I had on the stories--there were always struggles when Indy was depicted drinking, for example (even though Indy drinks in the movies), when things got sexual, or when things became "politically incorrect." So, that was a hassle. I don't think the Lucasfilm folks ever decided whether the Indy novels were for adults, or children, or what. But, I always believed I was writing hard fantasy for adults (that's my term. At least I think it's my term, since I don't recall anyone else using it. Hard fantasy is to fantasy what hard science fiction is to sf). I was thrilled to take over following Martin Caidin (CYBORG, etc),who was always one of my favorite authors, but I wanted to take Indy in a different direction--or at least return to the noirish Indy of the RAIDERS. Things became more restrictrive as the books progressed, however, and I have to shoulder my share of the blame. I blew deadlines. I had personal problems. So, in the end, I can only blame myself for failing to execute my original vision for Indy. There is some of it there, it shines in places, but it wasn't all that I wanted. And, I can only thank Lucasfilm for giving me the chance to play in Indy's universe for a spell.


  4. Where do you get the ideas for the adventure novels from and is there anything personal of your life in the books? What is the importance of the historical background in this connection.

Where don't you get ideas? Anbody who pays attention to the world, or who reads history or mythology, cannot help but be struck by the rich source of story material that surrounds us everyday. So, the problem is picking the right material. And yes, there is much that is personal in all of my books, but I will leave it to readers to determine for themselves which are those parts. Historical background is always important, and especially so in hard fantasy. The hook--in Indy's case, it must be a bona fide historical mystery--is important.


5. How much time does it take to write such a novel and what is your working procedure?


I've written a novel in as little as six weeks, or as long as several years. I have no standard working procedure, as every title is different. Mostly, however, I work late at night.


  6. How would you react if you were asked to write the film script for an Indiana Jones film? Or if they wanted you to provide the ideas?

It would be a great compliment. Then, after someone picked me up off the floor and I returned to conciousness, I would try my best to come up with the best script possible. Actually, I just optioned one of my original screenplays, a thriller called THE MOON POOL. Of course, scripts get optioned all the time, but I think this has a good shot at getting made. I do have a few ideas for Indy scripts, but no, I won't discuss them, because people get so crazy about Indy movie ideas. Besides, there's no point in dicussing them with anybody other than Lucas. And, I'm thinking about take one of the premises and giving it to one of my own characters.


7. In how many languages have your novels been published and what is the number of copies printed?


Three languages that I know of--English, German, and Japanese. I have no idea as to the number of copies, because I don't get royalties on those foreign language editions. If I knew, it would probably make me cry. But, I'm glad readers in Japan and Germany have access to them.


  8. Do you actually know the other Indy authors, such as Wolfgang Hohlbein, Rob McGregor, etc.?

I certainly know of them, and Rob McGregor lives in Missouri, my neighboring state (I'm in Kansas, dammit. I have a love-hate relationship with Kansas. Currently, I hate it.) Everything I have heard about Rob indicates that he is a nice guy and a talented writer. Obviously, Rob and I have different takes on the Indy character, but there wouldn't have been Indy novels without Rob. So, hats off to Rob. I can't read German, so I don't know how Wolfgang has handled Indy. I took a German class in college once, and came to agree with Mark Twain about how hard it is to learn it. But, I'd like to read a translation, if any are available.


9. Is another Indiana Jones novel being planned? Now that it is almost official that there will be another Indiana Jones film the time would be favourable, wouldn't it?


I have no idea. You'd have to ask Lucasfilm, or whatever publishing company currenly has the license. Personally, if there is another Indy movie, I'd like to see the original team. Not just Lucas and Spielberg, but also Lawrence Kasdan as screenwriter. And, pray they don't set it after WWII. The time period is as much a part of Indy's character as his whip and fedora.


Many thanks for answering these questions. The entire Indiana Jones fan community and I thank you very much for your co-operation. Not everybody takes so much time to please his / her fans.

If you want to know more about Max McCoy visit his official website or click here to go to our McCoy section. There you'll find a biography and a complete listing of his Indiana Jones novels including a summary.

copyright 2002 by HOLO GraFX for www.indianajones.de


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