Max Lance lost his virginity to a girl he later learned was using him to cheat on her boyfriend.
After many drinks, she passed out. Max spent his first post-coital moments checking her pulse to see if she was alive.
Most people would keep that story to themselves.
Max wrote a book about it.
Crazy Girls was published last Friday.
Two days later, it was #1 on the Amazon Kindle Singles best-seller list.
War and Peace it’s not. A quick read — “less than an hour,” promises Max, a 2002 Staples graduate — it’s 5 short stories with a common theme.
Which is: the 5 worst dates Max ever went on.
Did you hear the one about the girl who took Max to a surprise spot — her bible study group — and spent all night trying to convert him?
“She didn’t know I was Jewish,” he says. “That was shocking. I mean, it’s all I’ve got.”
How about the Italian model who described — sobbing, and in horrific detail — her date rape story?
“Everyone in the restaurant was looking at me,” Max recalls. “Then she opened her locket, pulled out 2 anti-depressants, and drank them. With wine.”
It helps that Max is a standup comedian. He’s honed that skill since he was 13. While at Staples, he moonlighted at New York comedy clubs.
He also co-edited Inklings, the school newspaper. He was almost fired for proposing a satirical issue.
Then it was on to NYU — for 2 years. He left, and spent 3 years doing “boring, crappy jobs” in Queens.
His social life was less boring. That’s where the material for all 5 Crazy Girls stories came from.
In 2007 Max entered USC’s film school. He graduated 3 months ago — just in time to hear that Amazon Kindle Singles was looking for young writers with distinctive voices.
A month later, his book was done.
“Singles” are “compelling ideas expressed at their natural length.” They can be long magazine articles, essays or books. Crazy Girls sells for 99 cents.
Many writers draw on personal tragedies. The worst thing that had happened to Max were his awful dates. He wrote about what he knew. And did it well.
Max calls his book “not fiction, but not non-fiction. It’s ‘based on’ real stories. I mean, there’s dialogue, but it’s obviously not verbatim.”
He pauses. “It’s in the James Frey genre.”
The response has been great. “A lot of people like that I didn’t lose my virginity until college,” he says. “I was waiting for a nice girl.”
Be careful what you wish for…
Many readers “relate to the terror of putting yourself out on a date,” he says. Max did more than that, of course: He put his dating terrors out there for the entire world to see (at least, that portion of it with Kindles).
Fortunately, Max’s openness (and cleverness — one reviewer calls him “naively funny and wickedly insightful”) is paying off. He’s not allowed to release sales figures, but thanks to strong marketing efforts by both Max and Amazon, it’s been both the #1-selling Kindle Single, and #11 on all Kindle charts.
Because it’s self-published, Max retains all film and TV rights. Not bad for someone who studied screenwriting in college.
And who is not afraid to share his most intimate thoughts after losing his virginity.
First, he remembers thinking: “Why did I wait this long?”
And then: “That was quick.”
(Click here to download Crazy Girls, or learn more about it.)