{Virtual Book Tour} Interview with Michael Bowler, author of 'Children of the Knight'



I am so happy to be hosting Michael J. Bowler at The Writer's Life today!  Michael and I go way back.  He first toured with us in August 2012 with his thriller/romance/historical fiction, A Matter of Time.  This time he's back with a new edgy YA, Children of the Knight, which is fantastic!  Find out how you can purchase your copy below.

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Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author who grew up in San Rafael, California. He majored in English and Theatre at Santa Clara University and earned a master’s in film production and a second master’s in Special Education. He partnered with two friends as producer, writer, and/or director on several films, most notably “Fatal Images,” “Dead Girls,” “Hell Spa” (later re-edited and titled “Club Dead”), “Things” and “Things II.”

”A Boy and His Dragon, published in 2011, is an urban fantasy about a lonely boy in 1970 who discovers both a living dragon and his own true nature, a nature that makes him the most dangerous boy on earth.
“A Matter of Time,” a Silver Award winner from Reader’s Favorite, was published in 2012. It is a real-world-grounded story of an almost impossible loop in time that leads to undying love and unforgettable heartache.

He has also been a volunteer Big Brother to seven different boys over 29 years with the Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters program and a volunteer within the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles for 28 years.  He is a passionate advocate for the fair treatment of children and teens in California, something that is sorely lacking in this state.

“Children of the Knight,” his most current novel, is likely to be controversial in its themes and conclusions. Those children society tends to reject or ignore or abuse or marginalize, who come in all shapes and sizes – black and white and brown and Asian and Pacific Islander and gang affiliated and gay and straight and those who are confused about their sexuality – are the subject of this book, and the story depicts an adult society that tells these kids, in various ways, that they are of no real value.

You can visit Michael’s website at www.michaeljbowler.com.

Book description:

According to legend, King Arthur is supposed to return when Britain needs him most. So why does a man claiming to be the once and future king suddenly appear in modern-day Los Angeles?
This charismatic young Arthur creates a new Camelot within the City of Angels to lead a crusade of unwanted kids against an adult society that discards and ignores them. Under his banner of equality, every needy child is welcome, regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, or gang affiliation.
With the help of his amazing First Knight, homeless fourteen-year-old Lance, Arthur transforms this ragtag band of rejected children and teens into a well-trained army-the Children of the Knight. Through his intervention, they win the hearts and minds of the populace at large, and gain a truer understanding of themselves and their worth to society. But seeking more rights for kids pits Arthur and the children squarely against the rich, the influential, and the self-satisfied politicians who want nothing more than to maintain the status quo.

Can right truly overcome might? Arthur's hopeful young knights are about to find out, and the City of Angels will never be the same.

Purchase links:
http://www.amazon.com/Children-Knight-Michael-J-Bowler/dp/1623806550/ref=pd_rhf_ee_p_img_1_NKGB
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/children-of-the-knight-michael-j-bowler/1115751033?ean=9781623806552

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us back to the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

I’ve been a volunteer within the juvenile justice system of Los Angeles for almost thirty years and a high school teacher for twenty-five. The idea for this book goes back fifteen or twenty years when I got to know and understand gang members better, as well as other disenfranchised youth I met within the system or at my high school. Seeing the success of Homeboy Industries here in LA, I began to wonder what might happen if an adult came along and united a lot of these marginalized kids and turned all their collected might toward positive endeavors. That was the genesis. I dedicated Children of the Knight to all of the amazing kids I’ve worked with over the years because they are the inspiration for this story, especially those incarcerated kids who clued me into a world of almost impossible-to-believe degradations perpetrated against children in this society. Sadly, every terrible act committed against kids in my book is one I’ve heard from someone in real life. And yet these same abused, abandoned, neglected, tortured kids who likely should have given up years before, inspired me through their undaunted ability to rise above their pasts and still possess hope for a better future. Amazing!

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

The sheer scope of this story was a bit intimidating. It’s the first of a trilogy and each subsequent installment begins exactly where the previous one ended, almost as though they were all one book. Thus I had to map out all three of them even as I was writing the first one so everything would connect and add up. There are also a lot of characters, and the overriding goal of gaining more rights for kids in this country is so huge that I have been working nonstop since June of 2012 to complete the series, while also helping get the current book edited and ready for publication. My advice to other writers might be, “think smaller” in terms of plot. Ha! While my book has distinct fantasy elements and is, at heart, a fable, it is set in the real world of today and the issues it depicts and decries are very real and very destructive. Thus it was a delicate balancing act to make the story play out in a believable fashion. Hopefully, I succeeded!

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

My publisher is Harmony Ink, and they have been fantastic to work with. I happened to find them through another writer on Goodreads. I read his book and thought it outstanding. I reviewed the book and then he and I got to chatting on the Goodreads site about his experience with Harmony Ink. He said they were easy to work with so I checked their requirements for YA submissions and my manuscript seemed to fit those requirements, so I submitted it. The rest is, as they say, history.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

This one is actually my third, but the first two were self-published. What surprised me about Harmony Ink was how supportive the entire staff was all along the process, how positive and encouraging. From the executive editor on down, it has been an affirming experience. It was also very nice not to have to invest any of my own money into the publication. The most difficult part of publishing a book is marketing it, as I discovered with the first two. Since Children of the Knight just came out, I’ll have to wait and see if Harmony Ink does well in that department. Of course, blogs such as this one are probably the best way to make people aware of my book.

Q: Can you describe the feeling when you saw your published book for the first time?

I was blown away by the high quality and overall layout. Of course, I’d worked on the editing process and seen both the cover art and galley proof prior to publication, but actually holding that finished product in my hand felt like Indiana Jones grasping the Holy Grail at long last! I just stared at it for about ten minutes in awe. Ha!

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

The first sequel to Children of the Knight is complete and the publisher is currently looking it over. No firm commitment from them as yet, which I understand because it’s quite a bit longer than the first one. But then, changing the entire state of California’s attitude toward kids requires a long book, right? Ha! I am presently finishing up the third volume in the series, and it’s also extremely long. But then again, that one seeks to change the whole United States! The entire series has become quite enormous in scope so I think Harmony Ink, which usually publishes smaller romance-type books, is waiting to see how Children of the Knight performs in the marketplace before they commit to any more. A smart business move on their part.

Q: Fun question: How does your book contribute to making this world a better place?

Children of the Knight raises many provocative questions about how our society treats its young, and it’s my hope readers will not merely take these questions to heart, but actually act on the need for change that is depicted. This trilogy of books tells the story of King Arthur and the remarkable cast-off kids he collects creating fundamental, systemic change for good throughout the entire city, state, and country. Yes, it is a fable, but it might not be pure fiction if enough adults and kids eventually joined together to make it happen for real. Who knows, maybe my book can jumpstart a children’s revolution. As main characters Lance or Jack would say, “wouldn’t that be epic?”

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?
  
I’ve worked with every kind of kid over the years, from the rich to the nerdy to the criminally inclined to the emotionally disturbed to the gang affiliated, with gay kids and straight kids and everything in between. The main message of Children of the Knight and its sequels is that all kids are basically the same. They’re just kids and none of them should be marginalized or discriminated against for any reason, but only encouraged and loved so they can become good, productive adults. My books celebrate the sameness of kids, not their differences. There are a couple of gay boys in the story and they are treated no differently than the gang members or the rich kids, so the overriding message of the book is––our differences don’t matter because at the end of the day we’re all just human. If more adults would take this message to heart, if they would put the needs of kids above their own wants, this society would be a hundred thousand times better.

Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

As a child growing up I was hearing impaired and rather introverted and didn’t have a huge number of friends. Books gave me somewhere to go, places I knew I’d never be able to go in real life, and they sparked my already fertile imagination. Sometimes they made me laugh and sometimes cry, but well-written books always got me caught up with the characters and situations. I love the idea of touching someone else’s heart and mind through my writing the same way my heart and mind were so often touched, and even influenced, as a kid growing up, and I hope I’ve achieved that goal with Children of the Knight. Thanks for your time.


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