Sci-fi and fantasy writer Maxwell Alexander Drake of North Las Vegas has hosted lectures and sat on panels at events such as San Diego’s Comic-Con International, Gen Con in Indianapolis and even at Saudi Arabia’s first Comic Con in February.
Las Vegas Valley residents interested in learning from the author don’t have to travel nearly as far. Drake hosts hosts free writing workshops at Centennial Hills Library, where he’s been teaching two classes a month for nearly seven years.
Drake, 49, covers topics such as character development, the anatomy of a fight scene and the business of publishing and maintaining a writing career. He posts about upcoming classes through his Meetup.com group, Las Vegas Creative Writing Class, which has more than 2,000 members. The group usually meets on Sundays or Mondays.
He said that he does it because he’s “just trying to make better writers.” Drake takes a personable approach with students, he said, combined with “a dash of brutal honesty.” (He has published two nonfiction books in a series titled “Drake’s Brutal Writing Advice.”)
Drake described his teaching style as blue-collar, because it’s for people who want to write but who — like Drake — don’t have a college degree. He said he spent 15 years researching about writing, which he equates to the level of a college degree.
“I teach high-end concepts in a fun way,” Drake said. “I don’t teach in a way that a third-grader wouldn’t understand.”
Drake’s mother, who retired in Las Vegas, convinced him to move from Pittsburgh in 2007 by offering to pay his bills for one year. His ninth novel, “Farmers and Mercenaries: Book 1 of the Genesis of Oblivion Saga,” was his first to be published, in 2008. He began teaching at the Las Vegas Writers Conference that year.
A manager at Clark County Library asked him to teach a writing class, Drake said. He also started teaching at Centennial Hills Library, which was closer to his home. When the Clark County Library lost some of its funding, he kept teaching at Centennial Hills, he said.
Aspiring fiction writer Susan Joslyn moved to North Las Vegas in 2016. She found Drake’s workshop on Meetup and attended two lectures with her daughter, although they were the same lecture, she said. She’s been going almost every month since .
“I was really struggling with (point of view), and I had a zillion questions about it,” Joslyn said. “He’s very good about if you ask a question, he’ll do his best to answer it. (And) when I left that day, I understood it. He’s a very good communicator. … I’ve read books and listened to several podcasts, but his are the best because he has all of these personal examples, and you can really relate to how he solves the problem that you’re trying to solve.”
Drake has helped her with a book that she’s writing, Joslyn said. They also have private writing sessions that Drake charges for.
Tammy Gieseking, the Centennial Hills branch manager, said Drake’s classes average about 20 participants; other similar adult programs at the library average fewer than 15. Attendees don’t have to have a library card to participate.
“(That’s) pretty good for an adult program of this type,” Gieseking said. “ … (When) you have someone here doing classes for seven years and they have never fallen off, it shows that he provides a real value to the community.”
After receiving several requests to host online workshops from aspiring writers outside of Las Vegas, Drake launched an online platform, Drake U, where he posts video lectures and provides handouts free. Some content will require a subscription, but the cost hasn’t been decided yet, Drake said.
Centennial Hills Library
Where: 6711 N. Buffalo Drive
Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays-Sundays
For a schedule of Maxwell Alexander Drake’s upcoming writing workshops, visit tinyurl.com/yapp7oa2.