It’s jocks vs. nerds as a tween and his cadre of misfits go to hilarious lengths to bring down their enemies in this laugh-out-loud MAX novel.
Chub is a short, accidentally bald, middle school outcast with no chance of ever becoming one of the popular kids. With help from his personal band of like-minded misfits (not to mention tactics gleaned from the Colonel, a US military vet with toenail issues), Chub’s determined to bring down his nemesis, class hero and now potential class president, Archer, or the Arch—the very guy who betrayed Chub with the lice-killing potion that left him bald as a billiard ball. If the Arch gets to be president, Chub knows his life is officially over.
Chub’s got a lot of dirt on the Arch: embarrassing photos and underwear about to fly from the school flagpole, for starters. But then he discovers that there are some very dangerous skeletons in Archer’s closet, and more at stake than just a few middle school reputations.
With a lot of help from his friends, Chub sets off to bring down an evil empire—and inadvertently become the least likely hero that Alanmoore Middle School’s ever seen.
Mark Maciejewski writes funny but smart middle-grade fiction. He lives in Seattle with his family.
Mark Maciejewski’s stories will make you snort into your latte. He’s a very funny man, but his debut, I AM FARTACUS, is much more than just cliched boy-gags; it is about friendship and turning your life around by being brave.
In his day job, Mark manages the Pacific North-West and Alaska for a steel company. As a writer he’s a member of PNWA and SCBWI and an amazing critiquing group called “The Paper Cuts”.
Can you tell us about your debut in 45 words or less?
-Chub is a bald kid with a Polish accent who wants to show his school class hero Archer (his ex-bestie,) is nothing of the sort. On his quest he discovers Archer has some very dangerous skeletons in his closet. Was that less than forty-five….
What was your favorite scene to write?
-I got a little emotional writing the final scene, because I think I was working out some personal stuff through the characters. But, my favorite was the scene where Moby ruins the Gatorade plot. I knew he was going to mess it up with some sort of improvisation, but until he went back and spun the lid off the tank, I honestly didn’t know what he was going to do. I had tears of laughter rolling down my face when I re-read it later.
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
-My agent actually suggested that I add about 12,000 words to the original manuscript, so I didn’t end up cutting any scenes that I recall. I had a lot of jokes that I loved that were inappropriate, however. I don’t remember what they were, now. Even though I’m sure it was the right thing to do, I wasn’t happy about cutting them at the time. I did have to change the original title “Chub and the Cadre of Evil.” Again, I wasn’t thrilled at the time, but it proved to be a smart move.
Standalone or part of a series?
-The sequel, Electric Boogerloo, comes out in July 2018. It’s not technically a series since the books work chronologically as well as standalone, but I have outlines for more Chub stories if Aladdin decides they want to keep going. I’d love to go back to Alanmoore Middle School a few more times.
What theme song would you give I Am Fartacus?
What a great question! Definitely “I Think I Smell a Rat” by the White Stripes. If this were a movie I could totally envision Chub walking down the hallway of the school at the end in slo-mo to that song as all the other members of the Cadre come out of classrooms and join him like the opening of Reservoir Dogs.
What made you want to write MG?
-I think because the things that make me laugh work well in that age range. Also, I had this character running around in my head, a little Lex Luthor Jr, who happened to be eleven years old. The more I wrote, the more i realized I had things to say to kids in that age range. I wonder if it’s a coincidence that I was eight or nine when I first realized I wanted to be a writer. Hmmm….
What else are you currently working on?
I have a chapter book series about alien chickens out on submission right now, as well as another MG about a boy who finds out his dad is an Ultra Human when his dad is kidnapped by his archenemy. The kid has to figure out which other student at his school is the child of the archenemy so he can uncover their secret identity and free his dad. I have a couple other ideas gestating in the nursery too, but too early to discuss. Stay tuned!
How do you want your readers to feel after finishing your debut?
-I want them to feel hopeful. That you don’t have to be what everyone thinks you are. No matter how bad things look, there’s always a chance for you to become the hero by doing the right thing.
What is the best book you’ve read recently?
-I have to go with Scythe by Neal Shusterman, an amazing writer at the top of his game.
3 signed hardcovers of I Am Fartacus; open to US residents only
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