Book People: Trent Maxwell AKA ‘Maxi’
I first came across the ‘Maxi the Lifeguard’ books when my dear friend Mel waved them under my nose, astonished at how they had totally engaged her 9 year old ‘reluctant’ reader. Mel then discovered he was coming to speak at a local library, whipped her kids off to see him and his business partner Leigh, loved the talk and offered to write me a review and teachers’ notes for the blog – clearly she really liked the books.
Fast forward a few months, and I’ve now met Maxi and Leigh and I have become aware of his celebrity status in Australia and overseas. What can I say? I’ve never been much of a factual TV watcher and though my brother (who Maxi reminds me of I have to say!) is a mad keen surfer (see here for his fav YA surfing book), I am not much of a beach go-er myself. Libraries are much safer…
Anyways…given how my social media exploded when I posted a picture of me with him and I had immediate text messages from ¾ of my friends about how they would have appreciated the significance of meeting Maxi more than I did…I’ve decided it’s time I interviewed the lovely dude about why he wrote the ‘Maxi the Lifeguard’ books. The books are never on my library shelves for very long and every child who has read them has raved about them, which is always a good sign.
TRENT MAXWELL TALKS WITH MEGAN (who really has no idea about surfing, firefighting or factual TV series but likes books a lot)
1. Given you have a successful career as a firefighter, you are a lifeguard, have your social enterprise company Live Learn Survive, and are on Bondi Rescue, why on earth did you also want to fit in writing a series of books?
I wanted to use my experience as a lifeguard on Bondi Beach over the past 12 years to make it fun and easy for every child to learn about water safety, no matter where they are. I love action and adventure and wasn’t a huge reader as a kid, for me the books had to educate and entertain, I wanted them to be fast paced but well written stories, and that is exactly what we have! There are 42 drowning deaths, every hour of every day and many are preventable, education and awareness is key. Each story is scattered with water safety messages and at the back of each book there are practical tips for staying safe in and around the water. If the series helps to save even one life, it will all have been worth it.
2. Did you work closely with David Lawrence on the writing of the series?
Yes, 100%, from our very first meeting David became ‘Big Wave Dave’ and we connected over a shared vision for the books. We met through my business partner Leigh who shared a mutual friend and we hit it off straight away. We had a meeting in Bondi, more in Melbourne and brainstormed the storylines and characters. I also did hours of voice recording for all the water safety technical information as it was critical that this was accurate. We are very proud of the series and the feedback we have had has been incredible, especially from parents of boys.
3. Did illustrator Peter Baldwin use the Bondi Rescue show as a reference for drawing the Maxi character or did you meet with him in real life?
We sent photographs to Peter and a few You Tube links of Bondi Rescue, we didn’t actually meet in person until the book launch. The minute I saw the first illustration of Little Maxi I knew he had got it spot on!
4. Do you have a favourite book from your own childhood?
I wasn’t much of a reader funnily enough but I had a few firefighter/ fire truck books I use to read and look at religiously, one was the ‘History of Fire Trucks’.
5. Were you a reader at school?
I was not a good reader at school. When I had tests and assignments and I had to study a book or novel I would just read the back blurb and make up the rest of the story in my mind 😂
6. Are you a reader as an adult?
As I became an adult I have read a lot more, I like to read non fiction and biographies and I do have an interest in space and Astrophysics. I also love history.
7. Is there more books to come?
I’m being asked for more books but nothing in the works as yet. I’m a full time Firefighter now for Fire & Rescue NSW and I already have the ideas in my head for a Firefighter series so if the opportunity presents I’d love to do a Firefighter series too.
8. Are you available for school and library visits?
Yes, I am passionate about getting out & about and connecting with kids of all ages. Drowning can happen anywhere, rivers, dams etc so it’s not just the kids at the beach that need to learn these skills! If I am doing an author talk I tell the story of how the books were co-written with David Lawrence and the hours and hours it took. I talk about the loooong process of working with the publisher and editor to make the books the best they could be and how anything that is worth doing requires a lot of work. I talk about how the books both educate and entertain, about my work as a Lifeguard and Firefighter, and how I managed to fit writing books in with all of this.
I work with Leigh Mason running ‘Live Learn Survive’ interactive workshops, it’s a social enterprise teaching children skills that saves lives by making learning fun. There are so many distractions these days and learning in a fun environment really helps engage the children, they are all made honorary lifeguards for the day and together we set up a 2 metre roll out beach, identify the rips, put out the flags and learn where it is safe to swim.
The Official Bio!
Trent Maxwell or ‘Lifeguard Maxi’, as he is more commonly known, is the youngest ever Professional Lifeguard to work at Bondi Beach. Maxi started at Bondi over 12 years ago as a 16 year old and his inspiring Lifeguard career has been well documented on Channel 10’s award winning show Bondi Rescue. As arguably one of the show’s most popular characters, Maxi has gained a global profile as Bondi Rescue has aired in over 100 countries around the world, most recently in the United States.
In 2016 Maxi became a Firefighter for NSW Fire + Rescue, then in 2018 Maxi became a Qualified Rescue Operator as part of the Heavy Rescue team based at the City of Sydney Fire Station. This unique career combination sees Maxi as a much-needed young, positive, male role model for future generations.
In 2018 Maxi added the title of published Author to his credits, releasing his ‘Maxi the Lifeguard’ educational, fictional, children’s book series, co-written with David Lawrence with a goal to save young lives. Based on much of Maxi’s own childhood the books educate and entertain through fast paced but well written stories and are full of valuable life lessons and water safety messages such as Rips, Heatstroke and DRS ABCD.
In 2018 Maxi founded social enterprise ‘Live Learn Survive’ with business partner Leigh Mason. A series of fun, fully mobile, interactive Fire & Water Safety workshops they teach children and young adults skills that save lives and can be held in any location, from classroom to playground to the park. The workshops are perfect for any group of children or young adults, be it schools, clubs, camps and any community or corporate groups.
Maxi gives his time as an Ambassador for Tourism Australia and Royal Life Saving Society UK where he promotes their Children’s Rookie Lifeguard program. In 2013 Maxi rode a Jetski from Sydney to Cairns to raise awareness for Youth Mental Health.