A native of California, Michael J. Bowler is the award-winning author of three novels: A Boy and His Dragon, A Matter of Time, and Children of the Knight. He majored in English and Theatre at Santa Clara University and earned a master’s in film production from Loyola Marymount and another master’s in special education from Cal State Dominguez Hills.
He partnered with two friends as producer, writer, and/or director on several ultra-low-budget horror films including Fatal Images, Club Dead, and Things II. He taught high school in Hawthorne, California for a number of years, and has also been a volunteer Big Brother to seven different boys with the Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters program and a long-time volunteer within the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles. He is a passionate advocate for the fair treatment of children and teens in California.
He has been honored as Probation Volunteer of the Year, YMCA Volunteer of the Year, California Big Brother of the Year, and National Big Brother of the Year. The “National” honor allowed him and three of his Little Brothers to visit the White House and meet the president in the Oval Office.
He has already completed the sequel to Children of the Knight and is hard at work on the third volume in the trilogy.
Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Children of the Knight. When did you start writing and what got you into young adult fiction?
I’ve been writing stories my whole life, even as a kid, and have always been heavily into reading. My first two books were actually written and re-written off and on throughout the 1980s and 90s before finally being published in 2011 and 2012. Teaching high school, as I was for so many years, limited my quality writing time to a minimum. However, having spent so much of my life around teens (both as a career and through extensive volunteer work), writing YA seemed a natural fit for me.
Did you have a mentor who encouraged you?
No, though several of my high school and college teachers greatly encouraged me in my writing aspirations and I’m forever grateful for all the time they took helping me improve my skills.
I had written the genesis for Children of the Knight many years ago, but the story never quite came together the way I knew it could. My biggest impediment was always my job since I believe teachers should devote 110% of themselves to the students, and that’s pretty much what I did, and I’m not great at multi-tasking. When I finally left teaching last year (mainly because of the two-hour commute home every day), I dug in and spent the next few months writing this book. It was initially tricky to get back into a writing groove because I hadn’t done anything substantial for years. However, once I got the first one done, the sequel flowed much more quickly, and it’s even longer. Now I’m almost finished with the third one.
What was your inspiration for the book?
I dedicated this 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 probably should’ve given up years before, inspired me through their ability to rise above their pasts and still possess hope for a better future. Amazing!
What do you tell your muse when she refuses to collaborate?
Ha. That’s easy – –I don’t have one. I think it’s difficult for those who don’t feel the compulsion to write to understand those of us who do. If that muse is out there for me, I haven’t found her yet.
Many writers experience a vague anxiety before they sit down to write. Can you relate to this?
There’s always a certain anxiety, I suppose, about whether or not people will like what I write. But when I’m actually at the keyboard telling the story, the characters and situations take over and I don’t even give that any thought until it’s time to send the manuscript out or until actual publication day.
Do you have a writing schedule? Are you disciplined?
Yes. Since I no longer have a 9-5 day 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 I need to get out of my system, it’s easy to be disciplined because I want to finish it.
How do you celebrate the completion of a novel?
Start the next one. Ha! In the case of Children of the Knight, it’s a trilogy so while the characters and situations remained fresh in my mind, I jumped right into the next two installments. After this trilogy is complete, then I might take a breather before moving on to my next project. Might.
How do you define success?
Of course selling a gazillion of copies would be amazing, but having my work enjoyed and appreciated by readers is really the ultimate success. I just saw an amazing review of this book online wherein the reader gushed over how much the book made him think and feel about the characters and the issues raised, and that touched me very much.
What do you love most about the writer’s life?
I LOVE not being on the freeway in commute traffic every day!
Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about and your work?
Where is your book available?
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Harmony Ink, AllRomanceBooks, OmniLit.
Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
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 adults. My books celebrate the sameness of kids, not their differences, so the overriding message is –– our differences don’t matter because at the end of the day we’re all just human. If more adults would just put the needs of kids above their own, this society would be a hundred thousand times better.