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Rediscovering his 'Focus'

Woodbury resident Erik Steen. Submitted photo1 / 2
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Woodbury resident Erik Steen started writing and drawing as far back as he can remember.

"Writing is like no other feeling," he said. " It's almost like a dream that I have control over."

But, as it usually goes, life got in the way and Steen stopped writing for quite some time.

That is until his sons found some old character drawings he had made.

"It was really my kids who inspired me to get back to writing," Steen said. "I just started telling them the story of these characters. I really started writing the story for them, but in doing that it opened up a whole new universe."

The story that Steen told his children has become his first published book, "Max Focus: The Hollow Moon," which is now available on in e-book format.

"Max Focus: The Hollow Moon" tells the story of Max, a boy who is frequently bullied in school. One day while running away from bullies, Max stumbles into a cave where he finds his teacher working inside a crashed UFO, the space-time ship known as the Manta Ray.

While aboard the Manta Ray, Max is plunged 10 years forward into a bleak dystopian future where the Naga, of Hindu myth, have returned and conquered the Earth, reclaiming the planet as their own.

"What I wanted to do was take modern mythology, about UFOs and all that, and ancient mythology and try and blend those two things together," Steen said of his book, which is geared toward young adult readers.

Steen said he first came up with the idea for "Max Focus: The Hollow Moon" back in high school.

"I would always think about how cool that would be to take off in a spaceship somewhere," he said.

Once Steen's children rediscovered Max, he said it took him about two years to complete the book.

"I don't really write 'A-B-C,'" Steen said. "Once I have an idea I write it down and then it's all these pieces of a puzzle that need to be put together. I rearrange the pieces to try and make the story. This story just took me on this incredible journey."

Steen said he is hoping to make Max Focus a series. He already has two more books in the planning stages.

"I want to tell an epic, something like 'Star Wars,' but that takes place here in this modern world," he said. "I want to take this world and bring it into the space world."

Steen said he hopes to continue writing.

"The thing that motivates me to write is to try and do something different than what's out there," he said.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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