HARPERS FERRY — Malcolm Ater’s first book – a coming-of-age novel with an unlikely sport hero at its center – continues to attract fans, with at least one out-of-state middle school interested in making the work required reading.
“Tyler’s Mountain Magic” begins in 1997 and tells the story of the late Tyler Moore, a young man who found success as an athlete while living with cystic fibrosis, the genetic disorder that makes it difficult to breathe and maintain a healthy weight.
The novel opens when Tyler is a seventh-grader intent on making the Harpers Ferry Junior High wrestling squad. Ater introduces readers to Tyler this way: “Nothing had ever been easy for him. Not good grades, not athletics, not anything. He wanted so much to be successful at something, anything, to make a name for himself, but the only thing he was good at was continually being sick and getting rushed to the hospital.”
Ater’s novel follows the teenager as he tackles an intense sport that puts incredible physical demands on even the healthiest bodies.
With an engaging, natural writing style that’s full of warmth, Ater details Tyler’s determination to triumph alongside his teammates, to change his fractured community forever – to make his too-short life count.
A longtime special education teacher and coach at Harpers Ferry Middle School, Ater also is a lifelong athlete himself. He served as a pitcher on the varsity baseball team at Old Dominion University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in education. He went on to complete a master’s degree in special ed from West Virginia University.
Before tackling his novel, Ater crafted dozens of human interest stories for newspapers and for Goldenseal, the magazine produced by the state Division of Culture and History that focuses on history, folklore and other aspects of traditional West Virginia life.
He also penned educational comic books, two of which were distributed nationally by the American Cancer Society. A third – “What You Know About AIDS Can Save Your Life” – won the backing of the U.S. Surgeon General and was distributed by the Centers for Disease Control.
Ater recently completed a second book, “The Hermitage House Miracle.” With the new book, to be released later this spring, Ater hopes to launch a series built on the two main characters.
“It’s a mystery-fantasy novel that will appeal to youngsters in middle school, particularly to boys who are reluctant readers,” Ater said.
Meanwhile, Ater continues to sell copies of “Tyler’s Mountain Magic,” which debuted in May. With the e-reader version priced at just $2.99, the book is particularly popular among Kindle users.
The 224-page paperback is sold online and at Four Seasons Books in Shepherdstown. Like the hero of “Tyler’s Magic Mountain,” Ater is determined to make his mark on the world. For each book sold, he contributes $5 in Tyler’s memory to the Bethesda, Md.-based Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
For details or to schedule Ater for a speaking engagement, call 304-876-6985 or email him at BlueRidgeMountainBooks@ hotmail.com.
More about Ater and his work is available at www.blueridgemountainbooks.com.