Today I will be interviewing Michael J. Bowler! Enjoy, and remember if you ever want to be interviewed Contact Me!
First of all, tell us a little about yourself!
I have been an advocate for kids my whole life and learned as a teenager that kids copy what they see in adults and in older kids, so I
What inspired you to become an author?
I grew up with a love of reading and storytelling. As a child and teen, I was a voracious reader. Many of those books and the characters therein affected me deeply on an intellectual and emotional level, and often shaped my outlook on life. I knew early on that at some point I wanted to try my hand at crafting stories that might have the same impact on kids that those books had on me. Of course, I love telling stories and the craft of writing, so those passions fueled my decision to author books.
What was the main inspiration for your most recent book?
In school as a teacher, and all over the Internet, I see this approach to pollution and climate change – doom and gloom and the sky is falling and there’s no hope and, oh, yeah, donate money to me and my group and we’ll fight climate change for you. Our ongoing use of the planet as a garbage dump has to stop or the effects on the next generation and the one after that could be devastating. I wrote this book for middle through high school kids about the environment and pollution and climate change to give them empowerment and hope, not to scare them or paralyze them or try to get them to donate money to some group or other. I crafted what I hope is an engaging storyline, with lots of action and likeable characters, that teaches kids how they can be the change they want to see in the world right now in their homes, schools, communities, and cities. They don’t have to wait until they are adults to take real action – they can mobilize now and generate tangible results that will benefit their entire generation down the line.
Who influenced you the most in life?
I’d have to say my parents, first, and then some teachers along the way. These people, for the most part, modeled what has become my core philosophy and a key theme in all my books – that life works best when we strive to do what’s right, rather than what’s easy.
What is the kindest thing someone has ever said and or done for you?
This might not be the kindest thing someone has done for me, but it ranks pretty high on the “amazing” scale. In early 2014 I made the virtual acquaintance (via Facebook) of a bestselling author with whom I shared the same publisher on my first Knight Cycle book, Children of the Knight. Her name is Mia Kerick and she was very excited that my book had won an award in the UK. She read Children and liked it. We struck up a virtual friendship and, knowing my book had almost no sales since being published the previous June, she took it upon herself to organize a “Fireside Book Chat” via Facebook and convinced many of her Facebook friends to read the book and participate in the chat. I know it took a lot of work and even personal expense on her part to make this event happen, and she did it for a total stranger. Remember, I had never met this lady in person! I’m still astonished and grateful that she did this to help bring more attention to my book, and to the sequels (the first of which was previewed during the chat.) I now consider this lady a dear and irreplaceable friend and remain beyond thankful that she “friended” me.
Do you have a favourite author? (Or name a few)
In no particular order, some authors whose books I love are: Stephen King, Mark Twain, Thomas Tryon, Alexandre Dumas, Cornelia Funke, Glendon Swarthout, Michael Crichton, Lloyd Alexander, Rose Christo, Oscar Wilde, Sherman Alexie, Lois Lowry, and Mary Shelley. I’m all over the map.
What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
Write what you would like to read, not what you think is currently popular. One of my professors in college told me that and I have followed his advice. Of course, because I think outside the box and my books are outside the box, they aren’t popular. But they are what I like to read. LOL
Did you always want to be a writer and if not what did was the first thing you wanted to be or do?
As a little boy watching Apollo astronauts walk on the moon, that was my goal for the longest – to be an astronaut and travel into space. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that my congenital hearing impairment meant that career could never come to fruition. I learned this in high school and was devastated.
Do you like to listen to music while you write? If so, who are your favourite artists?
I always listen to music when I write, and even when I create scenes in my head at the gym, in the car, or wherever. My favorite artists are James Horner, John Williams, and Jerry Goldsmith, to name a few. Never heard of them? Not surprising if you haven’t because they are film score composers. From childhood, film scores were my choice of music. Yes, I was considered a weird kid. Ha! Maybe it was because my hearing impairment made discerning lyrics very difficult, but I always gravitated to film music. The variety of moods and emotionality within the music makes it the perfect backdrop for writing. If I’m working on an action scene, I choose action music. If the scene is sad or emotional, James Horner has tons of scores that fit perfectly. I tend to picture scenes before I write them, like watching a movie, so film music sets the right tone and helps me bring the scene and accompanying emotion to life on the page. That’s my goal, anyway.
What helps you write when you're stuck and or have writer's block?
I never get writer’s block. The reason might be because I always know the ending of a book before I start. Knowing the outcome for the plot and characters makes the journey less filled with bumps and potholes or even roadblocks. The plotting becomes easier to focus on since I know how all the threads conclude.
After a long day of writing etc, do you have a favourite tv show you like to watch?
I try to avoid getting caught up in the addictive nature of television. I only watch two shows regularly – The Walking Dead and Gotham. I did add the six-episode arc of Fear The Walking Dead into my mix this summer and will likely watch season two next year.
What are you working on currently?
I’m adapting a screenplay that I wrote into a novel. I previously did this with my teen horror/mystery Spinner, and that book has been well received by reviewers. This new one involves two Filipino brothers, one in grad school and the other just starting high school, who create a costumed “super” hero (embodied in the older brother) to inspire the apathetic people of Los Angeles to step up and contribute toward making their city better, rather than waiting around for someone else to do it for them.
When you're not writing, or working, what do you like to do?
I continue my active volunteer work with kids and teens. I do some tutoring. I enjoy working out and exercising daily. I see movies from time to time. I read when I can, but I sadly spend more time trying to bring attention to my books than I’d like. Promotion is not fun when no one knows who you are. LOL
What are some of your favourite books of all time?
As an 8th grader, Thomas Tryon’s The Other blew me away and really cemented my desire to be a writer. I was so stunned by the ending that I immediately read the book through a second rime to figure out how the author had so cleverly tricked me. It was a masterpiece of writing and a very moving story in its own right. Other books I love are Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Count of Monte Cristo, Salem’s Lot, King of Shadows, Bless the Beasts and Children, The Once and Future King, The Thief Lord, The Neverending Story, Frankenstein.
Which of your characters do you love the most and why?
Lance from my Knight Cycle books and Alex from Spinner are most like me, so I guess I gravitate to them. Both are deep thinkers and have emotional depth. Both are very empathetic towards others, both have a melancholy side like I do, and both refuse to accept the world as it is – they want to make it better.
Which of your books are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of my Knight Cycle books, of which Warrior Kids is an installment, and of Spinner. I choose these books because they feature, as main characters, the kinds of kids most Americans would prefer to think don’t exist, kids we as a country kick to the curb and marginalize. I’m talking about kids of color, poor kids, gang members, gay kids, kids with disabilities. These are the amazing young people I’ve spent my life working with, and most of them are better human beings, with more depth of character, than your average college graduate. I shine light on many social ills perpetrated against these kids and show the reader how empowering such youth with good examples and real avenues for positive change can spark a revolution that will benefit all kids in America.
What is the title of the last book you read/was it good or bad?
In The Tall Grass. It was more of a long short story, really, and it was okay. Not enough explanation for what was going on to satisfy me, but at least it wasn’t three hundred pages and then left everything unexplained like other books I’ve read.
Is there anything specific you'd like to try writing about in the future?
On opposite ends of the spectrum, I’d like to write an offbeat humorous book for middle or high school kids about two nerds and a self-assured girl who team up to solve off-the-wall crimes, and I’d also like to explore the mind of a teen who seemingly at random shoots up his school. I’m not sure I will ever embark on either of these ideas, or the two continuations of Spinner, or further adventures of Lance and New Camelot due to overall lack of interest from readers in my work. The books receive generally positive reviews, but I guess my stories don’t sound engaging enough for people to give them a chance. Without readers, it doesn’t make sense to write, right? LOL Time will tell.
What is an interesting or hidden talent you have?
made a choice to model the best possible behavior at all times. I taught and coached at two high schools for twenty-five years; I have volunteered with the Office of Restorative Justice for over thirty years (with incarcerated kids); I’ve been a volunteer Big Brother through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program for over thirty years (my current, and eighth Little Brother is ten years old), and I’ve mentored kids at various YMCAs all my life. And I love to write, obviously. LOL
I seem to have the innate ability to put people at ease, especially kids, such that they share with me very personal information that I would never even consider asking about. I could be stuck in an elevator with a stranger and likely be told his or her entire life story, including secrets they never told anyone else. It’s odd, yes, but I never take advantage of people and share with others what they tell me.
If you could have one super power, what would it be and why would you choose it?
I’d love to fly because, well, who wouldn’t? LOL Seriously, to be able to get from place to place without a car or plane would be amazing. In addition, I think a bird’s eye view of the world makes us appreciate it more.
Is there anything else you'd like my readers to know?
I’m offering the eBook of Warrior Kids free to any teacher who requests it so he/she can share with students and use it in class. As a teacher, I always looked for supplemental materials for use in my classroom, but everything always costs so much. I figured I’d create a story about an important, timely topic, complete with extension activities at the end, and teachers would be thrilled. Oddly enough, not a single teacher has asked me for a copy, despite my contacting numerous school districts, schools, and education websites. Go figure, huh?
Where can we find you on social media?
Check back next year as I will be reviewing Michael's book Warrior Kids!
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