Meet Max Baker

Max Baker is a sophomore BFA Writing, Literature and Publishing major with a minor in Sociology. Their pronouns are they/them, and they identify as trans, on the trans feminine side of the spectrum. Growing up, Baker lived in many different places. They were born and lived in Texas, moved to Arkansas, but lived most of their life in Cedar Rapids, Iowa because of their father’s job. Recently, their family moved to Boston. As for Baker’s accomplishments, they published a short story in Generic Magazine––a genre fiction magazine on campus––called “The Road Away From Here,” during their first semester at Emerson just last year.

Her Campus at Emerson: How did you first become interested in writing?

Max Baker: So when I was a kid, I had a friend named Carter...he and I used to be on the phone for hours on end and we were in elementary school at the time but we would talk to each other constantly and  we would come up with little stories while we were talking. We would build up these characters and flesh out their entire story lines together and that was really how I got my first start with storytelling. And then a little further on in middle school I was writing different short stories back and forth with my friends. I had a friend named Skylar, and she and I would pass back stories that we would write to each other and about each other’s characters...so around that time I figured, ‘this is what I want to do’, and so I had a point in time when I was going home and spending two hours every single day writing. And I was like, I can see myself doing this for a job. So at that point I kind of decided I wanted to pursue being a writer, and from then on, I’ve been drilling myself.

HCE: Was there any particular author who inspired you either to write, or to continue to write?

MB: When I was younger, I got into these two book series. One was called The Demonata because it was a whole horror genre built around angling it towards children or younger audiences so that was one of the reasons I was really into that book series. I’ve never really wanted to write horror but it was a really well thought out, very in depth series. There was a mysticism to it. Also, Jim Butcher did this series called The Dresden Files which was another series I latched onto when I was younger and decided I really wanted to write something like that too. A lot of the witticisms and a lot of the plot structure, too, because it really gets down to the essence of when we’re talking about short stories now in workshops, we’re always talking about condensing and then expanding at the same time getting the most amount of material for the least amount of material used and so I think The Dresden Files do that very well.  

HCE: What are the themes you like to write about?

MB: Lately I’ve been writing more about complications in relationships, so with [my characters] Sandra and Anne, the complication between them, their major conflict is how Sandra views the world. Anne is really...a typical country girl and she’s having a culture shock when Sandra comes in. [Anne has] to deal with Sandra as a person. Because, while she likes Sandra, at the same time Sandra is this person who is surrounded by a lot of death all the time so it’s something that becomes an issue...at the end of the day Anne is very much aware of all these things but... she’s not saying anything and it’s kind of building up in the background. On the other end of that too, there’s also the issue of legacy and reclaiming your family bounds.

HCE: I understand you identify as a feminist, correct? Can you talk a little bit about that?

MB: I would say a lot of it has to do with my friends when I was growing up. My friend Brock has always been very much a feminist. [We] grew up around a lot of LGBT youth around where I was so feminism was something that came more naturally. It was sort of a given that people should have equal rights on all of these standpoints but particularly what drew me to the concept of feminism is that… [it is] addressing the specific structures that are a problem. If you don’t call it feminism, you’re not acknowledging the fact that we’re living in a patriarchal society that has huge structures built around sexism, so to start anywhere, we’ve gotta start there…and also do intersectionality. You have to acknowledge the racial divides within feminism...to define women so strictly is to put control over them.

HCE: Would you say your writing is feminist?

MB: In all of my writing I’m trying to show...I don’t know if I’ll ever write a cis male character as being a protagonist. I don’t know that I want to particularly because I don’t really understand how cis men work. A lot of my protagonists have been cis or trans women. The old man [in one of my stories] is actually a trans man. Just because someone identifies as [a gender now] and you knew them as [a different gender before] you still have to respect them as they are now.

HCE: May I ask you why you dyed your hair?

MB: I just thought...every punk [has] gotta go through their blue phase so I was like, I might as well...might as well be blue for the first time. I’m planning on dying it again. I’m gonna bleach it sometime soon then get my Boston ID because I need to do that and then probably dye it some other color eventually. Maybe green, like a very light green.