“Harper Williams” is a fictional 11-year-old sci-fi book fan who is the representation of readers
of STRXIA: THE ODDS ARE AGAINST US. Below, Harper interviews Maggie Daniels and
Matt Michel, the authors of the book, by posing questions they frequently get from readers.
Harper: I read tons of books, especially science fiction like your book STRXIA: THE ODDS
ARE AGAINST US. What do you think sets your book apart from all the others out there?
Matt Michel: Great question, Harper. Certainly, the primary goal of any science fiction book
for children ages 8 to 12 is to entertain, so action-packed entertainment was our first priority.
However, we go one crucial step further by incorporating a few STEM (that stands for Science,
Technology, Engineering, and Math) principles along the way. The best part is, as an 11-year-
old reader, you might not even realize you are learning something! One of the physics principles
explained in the book is how a rocket works.
Harper: Whoa! Are you telling me I’ll understand how a rocket gets off the ground and flies
into space after reading your book? I thought it was a book about baseball.
Matt Michel: That’s right. It is a book about baseball. But it’s also about a parallel world
called Strxia. The world of Strxia is governed by the same laws of physics as Earth. When the
main characters in the book realize that their actions on Earth impact Strxia and vice versa, they
begin to learn how to use physics to help them save Strxia and win a baseball game on Earth all
at the same time.
Harper: What about the characters? I mean, most characters in the books I read are big guys
full of muscle and athletic talent. That gets old sometimes.
Maggie Daniels: I feel the same way, Harper. That’s why our main character, Seth Cox, is just
the opposite. He would rather be at home, reading on the couch and snuggling with his dog, than
playing baseball games. Intellect is our hero’s main talent, and only his brainpower can help
Harper: Seth seems cool. Is he the only character in the book?
Maggie Daniels: Seth has plenty of help from an interesting group of teammates. Each of them
has their own special skills… and vices. Alex is the only girl in the boy’s baseball league. She
is fearless and the fastest runner on the team, but she never has been able to quite fit in. Jared is
all bravado with the county’s best baseball arm, but he is an egotistical mess of a hothead.
Finally, there is Chase. Chase is always kidding around but is a superb mechanic.
Harper: Is something wrong with Strxia. Why does it need saving?
Maggie Daniels: Oh yes, Strxia needs help. An elite group of scientists called the Odds have
found a way to control odd numbers on Strxia. The Strxians actually have to pay money to use
odd numbers, and not everyone can afford to do so. So their world is slowly falling apart
because without numbers, it is really hard to learn. Just imagine a world with no odd numbers!
Harper: The book seems to cover a whole bunch of different things. Wasn’t it hard to write?
Maggie Daniels: Well, besides being my co-author, Matt is also my husband. He and I have
worked together coaching baseball, basketball, and robotics. My job at George Mason
University is to teach, carry out research, and write, so writing is a natural process for me. Matt,
on the other hand, is a “rocket scientist” and has a firm grasp on all the physics in the book. In
fact, he calculates, with aerospace engineering accuracy, all the numbers in the book so that even
the most discerning teachers and librarians are satisfied. Together, we created a book we think is
Harper: This all sounds really great, but I have to ask, how on Earth do you pronounce Strxia?
Maggie Daniels: The name of the book is a fun story, because we went through many iterations
before we created one we really liked. Try saying “Strick-see-ah” – that will get you really
Harper: If I have more questions, how can I contact you? Or if I want to buy the book, where
can I do that?
Matt Michel: We have set up a website for our book as well as author pages on Facebook:
View Matt’s page here and Maggie’s page here. Our book is available on Amazon.