Máximo Castellanos, Delaware’s youngest Hispanic author, hopes his books can inspire others to follow their imagination
Máximo César Castellanos was all smiles when he held a copy of his first published book.
He was 7-years-old.
“He was so excited to see his name on the cover,” says his mother, Allison.“ ‘I’m going to write another one,’ he said.”
Today, the 13-year-old has written, illustrated, and self-published eight chapter books for students in Grades 2-6. His books are available in both Spanish and English. He writes his stories in Spanish then translates them to English. As a child he learned to speak and write in Spanish at home and speak and write in English in school.
A Delaware native, Castellanos, is the youngest Hispanic author in the state and the first Delawarean to receive a gold medal from the 2021 International Latino Book Awards category of Charlie Ericksen Best Book Written by a Youth. In 1997, actor Edward James Olmos and literacy advocate Kirk Whisler founded the book awards to improve literacy in the U.S.
The Georgetown resident won the award for his Spanish edition of Dr. Pren and the Days of His Childhood (Dr. Pren Y Los Dias De Su Infancia). Published in 2020, the book is the first in the Dr. Pren series. A seventh-grade student at the Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic School in Berlin, Md., Castellanos is currently working on the third book in the series.
The stories are about a young man named George who discovers how Dr. Pren and his childhood friends helped save the world.
“I hope my books inspire other kids to become readers and writers and to let their imagination run wild,” says Castellanos. “I hope that some of them will become authors too.”
Castellanos’s fifth-grade homeroom teacher, Robin Hayes, says the young author is an inspiration to both other youths and to adults.
“So many times, we are held back from trying to achieve goals because we fear they may not be possible,” she says. “By following Máximo’s example of just trying, we might be surprised at what we are able to accomplish.”
When Castellanos sits down to write, he is not concerned whether others will like his story ideas. “If you like your idea it doesn’t matter if others don’t,” he says. “Just write it down and publish your book and hopefully you will find people who will like it.”
His ideas are influenced by favorite books such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and The Chronicles of Narnia. And movies including Back to the Future.
“Every time my mom took us to the library and I saw a book I liked, I thought I want to publish a book,” he says.
So, at age six, he told his parents he wanted to publish Peter, a story about a boy who escapes from an orphanage and befriends an alien. The two become close friends and have many adventures.
“He saw the names of people on book covers and he believed he too could be an author and illustrator,” says his mother.
Castellanos’s parents both teach at Delaware Technical Community College in Georgetown. A native of Mexico, his father, Julio teaches science and Spanish, and Allison, a U.S. native, teaches English as a second language.
At age 3, their son began to draw story ideas. Castellanos stapled together 20 to 30 pages of drawings based on SpongeBob or Star Wars characters, then told the story to his family.
He bounces his ideas off of his brother, Octavio, 11, while his father and his mother help him with editing as well as the publishing and marketing process.
It’s been a learning experience, says Allison, who added that editing is the most time consuming. Publishing Máximo’s books is relatively inexpensive.
“In self-publishing if you want to save time, pay for services,” says Allison. “If you want to save money, do it yourself.”
Castellanos prefers self-publishing to traditional publishing because he gets to work on his books with his parents, has the flexibility to publish in two languages, and can release a book in three to seven months.
He uses social media, local newspaper and magazine interviews, book signings at local libraries, and book video promotions (which he creates himself) to market his books.
He devotes his weekends to writing and publishing and his weekdays to school and sports. Castellanos holds a Green belt in Isshinryu Karate and plays soccer.
“I want to keep writing all of my life,” says Castellanos. “I want to write all the stories I have thought of.”
View his video promotions visit his author’s page at: Amazon.com/author/maximocesarcastellanos
View two of his short films (one in Spanish the other in English) on YouTube.com