We’re pleased to interview Michael J. Bowler here at The Dark Phantom today! Michael is on a blog tour to promote his new YA novel, Children of the Knight. Welcome Michael!
Michael 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.
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.
Would you call yourself a born writer?
I’d say so. I’ve always loved reading stories and making up stories and telling stories. As a child growing up I was hearing impaired, shy, 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 decided even before high school that I wanted to try my hand at moving others emotionally through storytelling the way I had so often been moved.
What was your inspiration for Children of the Knight?
I dedicated the book to all of the amazing kids I’ve worked with over the years and they are truly the inspiration for this story, especially the 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 really should have given up years before, inspired me through their ability to rise above their pasts and still possess hope for a better future. Amazing!
What themes do you like to explore in your writing?
I like to explore themes of honor and decency and doing what’s right, rather than following the main media mantra these days of “it’s all about me.” Sadly, in our society today, most kids growing up witness and are taught self-centered behaviors, and thus they think life should be all about them. Selfishness in the adult population is what’s bringing our society down, so I like characters facing situations wherein they must make really hard moral choices, like what’s right versus what’s easy. Teens today have precious few role models in any walk of life that exemplify this model.
How long did it take you to complete the novel?
The outline for this story began a LONG time ago, but I only sat down to write it in earnest last summer. It took about a month or two for the first draft and then endless tweaking and revising for several months thereafter.
Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.
Yes. Since I no longer have a 9-5 job, my job is writing. I’m usually up early in the morning, eat breakfast, and then write for most of the day until maybe 3 or 4. Then I go to the gym where I work out with and train teenagers (see how YA is a perfect fit? HA!) and after the gym I go home and write some more. Depending upon my weekend plans, this will be my typical schedule then too. When I have a story to get out of my system, it’s easy to be disciplined because I want to finish it.
What did you find most challenging about writing this book?
Juggling a large cast of characters and making sure to work each one in as thoroughly as possible. Some of them become more prominent in the sequels than in this one, but it’s always a challenge to have a large cast. Once in a while I’d realize I placed the same kid in two different locations at the same time, or forgot about some other kid for several chapters. Ha! There are also a large number of adult characters and they had to be given sufficient “screen time” as well.
What do you love most about being an author?
I love being an author because 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. If I can achieve that through my writing, all the sweat and drama of writing the book and getting it published will have been worth it.
Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?
My first two books were self-published through two different companies. I enjoyed the experience, but also found it difficult because I don’t really have anyone who will read my stuff for errors or typos or just continuity problems, and thus mistakes found their way to the final product. Also, the marketing is all on me because there is no company that will benefit financially from marketing it themselves. This book, Children of the Knight, was released by a real YA publisher and it’s been an amazingly positive and joyful experience. These people have been fantastic and creative and incredibly helpful all along the way and I can’t say enough good things about the company or the people. The editing process was painstakingly thorough and hopefully no mistakes actually made it into the printed book. I don’t plan to read it to find out however. Ha! There’s probably more money to be made in self-publishing, but more expense, as well. If all publishers are as amazing as Harmony Ink I’d say go with a real company.
Where can we find you on the web?