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Chartiers Valley grad pens book focused on middle schoolers

| Tuesday, May 8, 2018, 2:24 p.m.
Chartiers Valley grad Josh Malacki's first book is called “Detours and Designs.'
Twitter/Torchflame Books
Chartiers Valley grad Josh Malacki's first book is called “Detours and Designs.'

Last month, Torchflame Books released the first book written by 2004 Chartiers Valley High School graduate Josh Malacki.

It is called “Detours and Designs” and is geared toward middle school readers, ages 10-14.

While in high school, Malacki wrote for the school newspaper. When he moved on to Robert Morris University, he met Matt Fazio in the English program. A few years after they graduated in 2008, they decided to collaborate on writing fiction.

At first they planned for the book to be a collection of short stories centering on the same character. But then, after developing multiple characters, it “morphed” into a novel instead. There are 10 parts to the book. Malacki wrote the original draft for some parts, while Fazio wrote the original draft for the rest. They would then pass the manuscript back and forth, making suggestions, additions, edits, etc.

Finally, they went over the book, literally word for word, checking everything to make sure they were both satisfied.

Currently living in Scott and running an automotive repair shop with his father, Malacki would love if the book became a series. They recently completed a speaking engagement and book signing at Robert Morris and have made some presentations at local libraries. They would also like to be invited to schools where they could talk to the students about reading and writing in general.

The story's premise involves Drew Daley, an 11-year-old boy, who finds a hand-drawn picture in his science textbook. He starts finding himself seeing everything differently and caring about things in a way he never did before. He becomes determined to find the artist, but the list of names inside the front cover of the book is his only clue. While navigating the fifth grade, Drew encounters overbearing teachers, bullies, broken windows and promises, and death and destruction. He learns some life lessons along the way.

“The market for this age range is flooded with otherworldly, fantasy-based books. Some of these books are good, of course, but we wanted to write about more relatable, everyday problems that kids face growing up,” Malacki said. “We don't think kids should grow up thinking that what they do doesn't matter if they aren't saving the world.”

The book is available through Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Google Books.

Upcoming appearances are set for Brentwood Library at 3 p.m. May 11 and the Baldwin Library at 6:30 p.m. June 19. Visit

Charlotte Smith is a Tribune-Review contributing writer. Reach her at 724-693-9441 or

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