Welcome to this week’s Super Middle Grade Mondays Book Blitz presented by Tantrum Books/Month9books! Today, we get up close and personal with Charles Curtis author of Strange Country Day from Tantrum Books.
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!
Charles Curtis is a writer and journalist based in New York City. He has reported and written for publications including NJ.com (where he is currently the site’s sports buzz reporter), The Daily, ESPN.com, ESPN the Magazine, Bleacher Report, TV Guide and Entertainment Weekly. Charles has covered the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, golf, tennis and NASCAR. He has also written about television, film and pop culture.
In addition, Curtis has also written, produced and was featured in videos for ESPN.com and The Daily. He has made radio appearances on stations including 92.9 The Ticket in Bangor, Maine, WLIE 540 AM in Long Island and on morning shows across Canada via the CBC.
He can be reached on Twitter @charlescurtis82.
As a young 8th grade writer who published his first story in my school’s literary magazine, I was always encouraged to write what I know.
So when I sat down to write STRANGE COUNTRY DAY, I immediately knew my protagonist, Alexander Graham Ptuiac, would be a tall, skinny sports-loving new kid just starting middle school and trying to fit in. That’s because, at the age of 12, I was a tall, skinny sports-loving new kid just starting middle school and trying to fit in.
Alex’s first day of school starts out with a bang: During 7th grade orientation, he’s pulled into a room with his classmates for a ritual known as “Fresh Meet Friday.” When the event turns into a riot involving the older 9th graders, Alex discovers he has previously unknown superhero-like powers that propel him to punch the ringleader in the nose.
Unfortunately, my first day of middle school wasn’t nearly as mind-blowing as Alex’s, but I did draw a little bit from experience. I attended a private school where I was one of many new kids faced with making friends with a whole new group of students, many of whom already knew each other. Luckily, there were no hazing rituals I was forced to participate in (unluckily, I didn’t have comic book-like powers, either), but in STRANGE COUNTRY DAY, I tried to capture that same nervousness I felt about walking into a –well – strange environment, trying to fit in and attempting to adjust to an increased workload and new schedule.
In the past few years, I’ve often joked about how my interests in those days – I visited a comic book shop once a week to pick up my stack and played the card game Magic: The Gathering every day at lunch – are suddenly trendy now and lamented about how I would have been much happier if I’d been a middle schooler in 2015. But I realize now just how influential both were on my creativity and imagination.
The other huge influence? Sports, of course. I spent countless nights in front of the television (I promise, Mom and Dad, it was after my homework was done…most of the time) or at one of the many New York stadiums/arenas, taking in any and all Mets, Giants, Knicks or Rangers games I could watch. I always wish I could go back in time and tell my middle school self that one day I’d find myself in the press box at those very same arenas and stadiums. Middle School Charles would be blown away.
The one thing that truly separates me from Alex? With the help of those aforementioned powers, he ends up joining his school’s football team as a quarterback. Despite my love for the game of football, I didn’t have half the athleticism to even begin to think about playing on the gridiron.
But hey, adults – especially authors – are allowed to reimagine their pasts too, right?
Alexander Graham Ptuiac, the son of an inventor, wants to play for the school’s football team. During tryouts, and under the watchful eye of the team’s coach, he suddenly manifests mysterious superhuman powers. Alexander makes the team, but not before the some ill-intended adults take notice, putting his life in danger.
Alex struggles to suppress and control his strange new abilities, worried about exposing his secret and being kicked off the football team. Then he befriends Dex, a diminutive classmate who can somehow jump as high as ten feet in the air. Seems Alex isn’t the only one at school with a secret.
As the school year unfolds, Alex will find himself the target of bullies, holding hands with his first crush and discovering the shocking truth about himself and his parents.
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