sci-fi thriller author Igor MaxWhen I was young, I had a secret desire that at first I didn’t understand. I didn’t have the words for it. But soon it became an obsession. In the second grade, I finally figured out what it was, exactly, and how to articulate it. I didn’t dare tell anyone. I was too shy for that. It seemed like such an impossible aspiration, so grandiose, so foolhardy. I was afraid people would laugh at me if they knew.

One day, I decided that instead of telling people, I would show them. On my own time, without telling anyone what I was doing (least of all my second grade teacher, Miss Woulette), I began working on a big project. It wasn’t assigned in class—I assigned it to myself. It was a story. Every day I would come home from school, work on my story, eat dinner, work on my story some more, and then go to sleep, repeating the same process the next day.

After several days, I finally finished it. It was a story about a gum-drop creature who lived on a planet made of candy who journeyed to overcome a villainous liquid gum-drop lava monster who ruled tyrannically over all the gum-drops on the planet. It was 30 pages, written in longhand. With my mother’s help, I stapled the loose-leaf papers together, put the story in my backpack, and brought it to school. I gave it my teacher, half-expecting her to tell me, “That’s nice, have a seat.” What she did instead was instantly agree to read my story to the entire class. From what I remember, my fellow students more or less paid attention until the end—not exactly what you would call “bringing down the house,” but in my mind it was as a standing ovation.

I was hooked, and have been living my secret desire to be a writer every since. I live in Chicago, working to produce a novel every month by 2018.