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Friday 28 August 2015

ℚ Strange Country Day: Strange Things [1] - Charles Curtis

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Strange Country Day  (, Tantrum Books/Month9Books, LLC, 300 pages) a Middle Grade Fantasy Sports novel, book one of Strange Things.

Author Q&A | Synopsis | Teaser | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops

A big welcome to Charles Curtis, thank you for joining us on BooksChatter.

What was the inspiration for Strange Country Day?

"It came from out of left field, actually.  Years ago, I was riding in a car with my parents, who are both writers and who constantly pitch stories and ideas to me.  My mom turned around from the passenger seat and said, “I have an idea for you for a kids’ book: Vampires playing football.”  I immediately rejected it, thinking undead bloodsuckers were overdone at that point, but the image of a vampire floating into the air to catch a football stuck with me and out of it grew a tale of a boy who suddenly discovered he could throw a football fast and far … and a friend who could leap 10 feet in the air and catch a pass.  None of those characters, however, turned out to be vampires."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"I describe Alex Ptuiac, the protagonist and narrator of “Strange Country Day,” as a tall skinny boy who was starting at a new middle school in 7th grade, surrounded by students who already knew each other.  That was basically me at that age, a gangly kid nervous about leaving a familiar school and starting at a new one, trying to avoid drawing too much attention to myself.

Though Alex discovers some weird new special powers that end up helping him on the football field (that’s where the similarities ended), I wrote the book from the perspective of my 12-year-old self. How would I have handled new responsibilities, a school bully, the attention of a female student and the kind of abilities I daydreamed about? "
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for Strange Country Day - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"I actually didn’t choose the concept, though I love the cover. I sent descriptions of the characters and some of my favorite scenes from “SCD” to Month9Books and the result is what you see: A look at the three main protagonists (Alex, his best friend Dex and the heroine, Sophi) and a literal sprinkling of some of the mystical, magical stuff they’re dealing with."
Why should we read Strange Country Day and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?
"There’s a little something for everyone, from comic book superheroes to an insider look at junior high school football. Young readers will identify with the struggles of a teenager to fit in along with coming-of-age themes. There are zany, comedic moments, some scares, a touch of science fiction and a whole lot of suspense that ends with a couple of cliff-hangers. How many books can claim all of that?"
Can you tell us something quirky about Strange Country Day, its story and characters?
"I had a ton of fun with Alex’s dad, who’s an inventor. You’ll see quite a few cool and quirky toys make appearances, including a robot programmed to catch footballs and an automatic chef. Here’s another fun fact: Sophi has what’s known as heterochromia iridum, more commonly known as two different colored eyes."
Who would you recommend Strange Country Day to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"If you’re a 9-to-12-year-old who dreams of playing football, this is the book for you. Do you make frequent trips to your local comic book store? Great! Pick up “Strange Country Day.” I also hope parents will give it a try and feel like they’re taking a time machine– I wrote the novel keeping in mind the young adult books I read as a kid."
If you could / wished to turn Strange Country Day and the Strange Things series into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"I would love a director like Christopher Nolan to helm “SCD,” someone who knows how to direct big-budget action movie with endless special effects and give it an artist’s touch. I always imagined the movie taking place in Westchester, a suburb of New York City, which means it would be filmed in Toronto, of course. As for actors? Could I get Josh Hutcherson from “The Hunger Games” to turn back the clock 10 years and play Alex?"
What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"I spend my days writing about sports for, so that’s my main focus day to day (that includes reading dozens of articles and blog posts, watching videos and rifling through what seems like a thousand tweets). But when it comes to what I read, I’m all about science fiction (run to your nearest internet browser and order Ernest Cline’s “Armada” immediately), YA classics (I just finished “The Maze Runner” last week!) and non-fiction about food (I love to cook and will read anything Michael Pollan, er, dishes out)."
What is your writing process?
"As you can see from my story above about the origins of “Strange Country Day,” I think really visually. I’m also a movie buff, so each chapter started as a film scene that I honed in my head before writing it. But now that I’m writing the second novel in the series and there’s an added level of complexity, I’m starting to work from an outline to go along with those visualized scenes."
What is in store next?
"Right now, I’m completely focused on the sequel. Here’s my biggest hint on Book 2: Two characters who make cameos at the end of “Strange Country Day” will play major roles in the second novel."
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
"I want to hear from all you after you get through the book! What did you love? What do you want more of? What’s your prediction for what will happen to the characters? I’m on Twitter (@charlescurtis82) and Instagram (@charles_curtis), so reach out and say hi."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"No pets, but I have a one-year-old son named Benji who loves to take selfies. Here’s one below!"

Lovely!  What a happy baby :-)  Hello Benji :-)  Thank you so much for sharing Benji with us.

Strange Country Day - available NOW!

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