Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Interview with Antoinette van Heugten author of Saving Max

Starting Tuesday February 1, 2011 the General Fiction Book club at B&N.com http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Fiction-General-Discussion/bd-p/FictGeneral
Will be featuring Saving Max Antoinette van Heugten's debut novel. If you're looking for some excitement in those lonely long days of February come join us.

Here is the interview she so graciously did for me.

Hi Antoinette and thank you for taking the time to talk to me today.

First let me say thank you for agreeing to participate in February when B&N General Fiction Book Club features your amazing debut novel Saving Max. And I want to emphasize how truly amazing it was, you had me enthralled from the first paragraph and didn’t let me go until the very end.

Your bio tells me that you have a unique perspective and insight into your novel as you are the mother of two autistic children and are a former trial lawyer, which is the occupation of your heroine in Saving Max, Danielle Parkman.
Debbie- How old are your children If you don’t mind my asking?
Antoinette --My children, Jack, Brendan and Sam are 26, 23, and 22. Jack and Sam are my stepsons and Brendan is my son. When my husband and I married, Sam was 6 and Jack was 10.

D - Did you give up being a lawyer to devote more at home time with your kids and husband?
A --Yes, I did give up being a lawyer when I remarried. I was a partner in a New York law firm and found that I couldn't adequately meet the needs of the boys and my husband while traveling around the world!

D - How long did it take you to write the novel and did you in the past aspire to be an author?
A- It took me about four years to write the novel. I had an agent at the time who insisted I rewrite the novel from the perspective of the detective, which wasn't at all the book I wanted to write, but I was so new to the writing world that I did what she told me and I hated the outcome. When I fired her and got a new agent, I rewrote the novel again from the mother's perspective. I was determined to write the book the way I wanted to and finally did so. I've always written (even though my lawyer's training should have made creative writing impossible!) and always dreamed of seeing my novel published. This has been a dream come true.

It also states that you wrote the novel not just for entertainment but to clear up some misconceptions regarding autism.
D - Tell us without giving away too much information to those who haven’t read the novel yet, what kind of misconceptions.
And what is the one thing that you want us to learn from or take away from this novel.
A - The primary misconception I wanted to clear up is the public's assumption that autism has only one definition, usually one that all autistic persons sit alone in their rooms banging their heads, are incapable of true communication or being integrated into society. If readers take away one thing from the novel, I hope that they learn that autism is a spectrum disorder and that each person exhibits their autism in different ways. For example, my son has Asperger's, which is very high functioning autism. He is very intelligent, has a job and is very affectionate. My older stepson is mentally challenged and also has autism, which prevents him from doing a lot of things, but he has a job and is a delightful person.

D - During the writing process, did you learn anything new about yourself and if so what.
A - I learned in writing the novel that it really was very difficult and terrifying to raise these boys, worrying constantly about their futures and their happiness. I also learned that a mother has to advocate constantly for her child in order to give them what they need, despite what the professionals and others say about their inability to function in the world. I learned that raising my children was the primary life lesson I've had in my life and my gave me the greatest joy and pride in just having the privilege to help them along their journeys.

D - As I mentioned before you are a mom and wife, does your family treat you any differently now that you’re a celebrity.
A - -I certainly don't consider myself a celebrity! My family is very proud of me, especially my husband, who is my biggest fan. The boys are also proud of me, but I'm still just mom around the house.

D - What kind of literature do you like to read, do you have a favorite author?
A - As you might guess, I love to read thrillers and prefer to read fiction over non-fiction. My favorite authors include Scott Turow, Anita Shreve, and Ian McEwan.

D - Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us
A - -It might be surprising for readers to know that I am an avid horsewoman, having taken up the sport again at the age of 52. I have two retired racehorses, one of which is Lights on Broadway, who won over $500,000 in purse money and then wounded up on a slaughter truck before he was rescued. Riding and writing are the most important and satisfying parts of my day.

D - Will you be writing another book?
Fiction or non-fiction?
A - -I am definitely writing another book! It is called THE TULIP EATERS and is a novel about a woman who discovers that her parents may have been Dutch Nazis during the Second World War. When I graduated from college, I got a grant to study the Dutch underground during the war and spent two years in Amsterdam at the Dutch War Institute. My parents were Dutch and were young people during the war, so I had a great personal interest in the subject. There is, of course, a murder (two, in fact)! Although it is fiction, the novel is based on true facts about Dutch resistance fighters and the over 100,000 persons who were Dutch Nazis during the war. The heroine is another very strong female character. I hope readers enjoy it!

Here's a link to her website


  1. Wonderful interview. The book sounds fascinating.

  2. This is very good story that i didn't try to understand comes though i am writer who loves the fantasy. I loves book called saving max by antoinette van heugten so amazing this make feeling deep inside.

  3. This story completely caught me by surprise. I was expecting something completely different. The character build up is fantastic. I was never sure if Max was really crazy and commented the crime he was accused of. And Danielle was a wonderful example of the length a women would go to to protect her child. It was hard to accept her version of things. There were times I felt like yelling at her. I just wanted her to look at the facts and admit that it was possible that she was wrong. I think since she's always had such a hands on approach to her son and his well being, she refused to acknowledge that there was any possibility. There were a lot legal things that I'm not sure I agreed with. And, I thought it the end there still should have been some ramifications for Danielle's actions. But, the truth was shocking. The story was intense once the ball got rolling and didn't stop until the end.

  4. Hi UK, thanks for the comment. I totally agree with your assessments. Too bad you missed our month with Annette at B&N she was great