Friday, August 30, 2013

Straight From the Mouth of 'Children of the Knight' Michael J. Bowler

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

Thanks for letting us interrogate interview you!  Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?

I’ve always loved reading stories and making up stories and telling stories. As a child growing up I was 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.

Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be?  I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?

The main perk for me is not commuting to work on a parking-lot style freeway every day like I had been doing for so many years. It’s awesome to be able to work from home. It’s a solitary occupation, to be sure, because some days I spend more time with my fictional characters than with real people. Ha! The main demands are trying to market myself and make money at this gig. There are just so many books and authors out there it’s nearly impossible to get any traction. Thus I promote through as many venues as possible.

Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?

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 into 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. 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.

Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?

I live alone so that’s not an issue. My siblings and extended family are always very positive, but they never read my books. Oh, well.

In writing your book, how did you deal with the phone ringing, your family needing dinner or your boss calling you saying you’re late?

I’d often just let calls go to voice mail. I was no longer teaching full time when I started this book last summer so I didn’t need to try and juggle the two. I don’t multi-task very well so if I were still teaching, this book likely wouldn’t even be out there yet.

What was the craziest or most insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?

So far nothing crazy or insane. I won an award for my second book and that was crazy cool, but other than that it’s been pretty tame. When I went to Florida for the awards ceremony, the first hotel in which I’d booked a room didn’t even exist! It was a vacant lot. Ha! That was crazy weird!

How about the social networks?  Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?

I don’t quite get Twitter and how to get more followers there, so I find that one annoying, though I still use it to tweet updates and such. My Facebook author page has a lot of likes, but will those translate into people buying the book? I’ll never know unless people post comments about it on the page. As a rule, however, Facebook is the easiest one to use. I have a blog, but still don’t know how to promote that except with Twitter and I’m lame at Twitter. Ha! Goodreads is also helpful since I can target groups who might be interested in what I wrote, but even there people might add my book under “to read” and then never buy it. I think probably blogs like this one that have a lot of followers are the best way to promote.

Book sales.  Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)?  How are you making the sales happen for you?

As mentioned before, I’m pushing the book like crazy on all the social media I can. Other than that, I’ve had bookmarks made up that I pass out to people. I also have t-shirts I made with my book cover on them so when people ask me about it I can hand them a bookmark with the description and links for purchase. I’ve entered my books into some book award competitions, and winning an award for A Matter of Time helped that one to gain a bit more visibility, I think. With Children of the Knight, I’m relying on the publisher to push the book and give me ideas how I can push it, as well.

What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?

I LOVE the cover art on Children of the Knight. The amazingly talented artist, Reese Dante, was fantastic to work with. She took ideas I sent her and ran with them and the resulting cover is so cool I had it made into a full size poster that now hangs in my house!

Okay, too much sugar for you today!  Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in.  Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above don’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?

I love being a published 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, by books as a kid growing up. If I can achieve that through my writing, all the sweat and drama of getting published will have been worth it.

No comments: