Today I have the pleasure of interviewing author Jonathan Maxwell. We will be discussing his book, Piltdown Man and Other Hoaxes, available now on Amazon.
MM: Many authors relate their characters to people they know. Is this the case with your characters and do you see yourself in any of them?
JM: I write non-fiction, so things are a bit different. However, I did relate to many of the persons I discussed in Piltdown Man and Other Hoaxes. The major players in the whole Piltdown affair were all fascinating individuals, larger-than-life, a complex mixture of good and bad. Sometimes they were admirable, and sometimes not-so-much. They weren’t always right, but they were always impassioned, and always opinionated. In other words, they were distinctly human. Everyone can relate to them, if they give them a chance.
MM: Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
JM: Charles Dawson, but for all of the wrong reasons. He’s not exactly a moral figure, but he’s just so interesting, you find yourself not caring that he’s immoral. He represents a common truth found not just in literature, but in all of human society. People are drawn to morally ambiguous characters. They may not trust them, they may not admire them, but they always find them somehow beguiling. It’s like with Dracula—yes, he’s villainous, but he’s also strangely seductive as well. Oftentimes, we secretly want to be Dracula. I guess it’s because such characters don’t follow the rules.
MM: Who is your most favorite character from any book of all time?
JM: I’m getting my Master’s of English, and, in Victorian Literature, we just read Great Expectations. I have to admit it, but I didn’t look forward to reading it. It sounded stuffy. I really enjoyed the book, though. Pip was just such an endearing character. On the one hand, he was just so friendly and sweet. On the other hand, he was so incredibly ambitious and driven. You root for Pip, and you want him to become a success. Still, you worry that he’s losing his values, that he’s selling out, that he’s abandoning his best friends in his pursuit of success. He’s a complicated character, and its complicated characters that produce great literature.
MM: If you could dive into the pages of any book, which book would it be and what character would you be?
JM: I suppose Pip. His story is very exciting. He’s a humble blacksmith apprentice, resigned to a life of hard, dirty work. Then, he suddenly discovers that he has high friends in high places. An anonymous benefactor comes forward, willing to make him a wealthy member of high society. The benefactor pays for his schooling, his rent, his food, and even his social life. He’s not supposed to ask who this mysterious benefactor is. He’s just supposed to collect the money. Of course, not knowing who the stranger is simply drives Pip crazy. And, eventually, he discovers the identity of the stranger—and the figure is definitely not what Pip expects, or even wants. It’s just a classic story. It’s a shame that a lot of younger readers don’t care for “older” literature these days. There’s some great stuff there.
MM: If your book was to become a movie, which actors/actresses do you see playing the parts of your characters?
JM: Richard Dreyfuss would be great as Charles Dawson, I think. This seems like an odd choice—this actor isn’t young, and he’s not a typical leading man. Still, he looks a lot like Dawson. More importantly, they’re both larger-than-life figures. They’re both egocentric but likable. They believe in themselves. They’re both extremely sociable. They’re doers, and while they’re both impulsive, you instinctively believe in them and whatever they’re doing.
MM: What can we expect from Jonathan Maxwell in the future? Any new projects?
JM: My latest manuscript is about the Rolling Stones’ experience at Altamont. This was a free concert held by the band in California in 1969. They made the horrendous mistake of hiring the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang to provide security at the event. Once there, half of the bikers decide to wage war on the concertgoers, beating them with their fists and with bats. Apparently, the other half decided to sell the concertgoers hard drugs. What were the results? Among the results were one cold-blooded murder, three additional deaths, hundreds of violent assaults, and thousands of drug overdoses. Commentators often claim that Altamont spelled the deaths of the hippie movement and of the spirit of the 1960’s. I think that the commentators are pretty right on.
MM: Where can readers connect with you?
JM: Listeners can find my book at Barnes & Noble, and on www.amazon.com. They are welcome to contact me on Facebook.
Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me today. It's been a wonderful pleasure.
I'm a Georgia-based writer and editor. My first book, Murderous Intellectuals: German Elites and the Nazi SS, was released in November 2009. A history of the Nazi party, the book can be found at www.amazon.com.
I'm a writer. My first book came out in November, 2009. It's called Murderous Intellectuals: German Elites and the Nazi SS.
Around the turn of the century, mysterious bones are found on a work site in otherwise sleepy Piltdown, England. They look very old, perhaps prehistoric. The bones clearly belong to a primate, but what kind? Some of them look extremely primitive, while others appear to be those of a modern human being. Despite the paradoxes, British scientists hail the specimen as the first man. Thus, humankind originated in Europe, and not in Africa, as Charles Darwin believed. However, things are not quite what they seem, and Western scientists would endure a scandal that would almost destroy anthropology and the theory of evolution. Piltdown Man and Other Hoaxes examines this disastrous fraud in depth, and explores other scientific scandals as well, such as those in regards to Bigfoot, the Yeti, lake monsters, and mermaids.
- Paperback: 248 pages
- Publisher: American Book Publishing (April 26, 2012)