Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Children of the Knight blog tour: excerpt and guest post

About the Book: 

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 Los Angeles?

This charismatic young Arthur creates a new Camelot within the City of Angels to lead a crusade ofunwanted 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 ofthemselves and their worth to society. But seeking more rights for kids pits Arthur and the childrensquarely 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 your copy:

Book Excerpt:
Once upon a time in the City of Angels, chaos was king, and carelessness ruled. Street gangs roamed the city. Politicians bettered their own lives, not those of the people they were elected to serve. Police corruption ran rampant through Rampart and other crime-ridden districts. Neighborhoods declined to slum-like conditions. The Los Angeles school system stumbled headlong down the road to total Armageddon. And the most victimized segment of the populace?
The childrenThe teens. The next generation.
Limited choices and often abusive or neglectful home lives forced hundreds, if not thousands of children, into the streets to join gangs, turn tricks, do drugs, sell drugs, drop out of school, get arrested and sent to prison for life, and in all ways subjugate their goodness inthe name of survival.
All hope seemed lost. Until the mysterious ‘tag’ appeared throughout the city, spray-painted on walls and over graffiti, obliterating gang markings without mercy, without favoritism, with impunity.
A ‘tag’ that became the symbol of a revolution.
Boyle Heights in East Los Angeles had become a flashpoint for immigrant traffic and gang warfare as far back as anyone could recall. The gangs usually clashed over turf or drugs.
Tonight it was about disrespect.
LAPD officers fought to contain the brawling, screaming gang members, firing rubber bullets, banging heads with nightsticks, slapping cuffs on tattooed wrists. These rival Latino factions from different neighborhoods clashed often, especially on this street, a dividing line between the two hoods.
Scrawled on the wall behind the brawling youths and struggling cops were various gang monikers and names, indicating the back and forth struggle for control of the area. Above all these, written in beautifully articulated lettering and accompanied by the drawing of a dove flying over a rainbow, and partially scribbled over by graffiti, was painted: "Pray for Peace in the Barrio."
Anarchy reigned as cops in riot gear struggled to apprehend the fighting youths, while other gang members ran helter skelter between numerous police and local news media vehicles attempting to escape the police cordon. The news cameras rolled, taking in every violent moment while the flashing red lights of police and paramedic vehicles cast a dramatic strobe-light effect over the scene.
As the situation slowly settled into containment, with most gang members either restrained or dashing off into the darkness, the last two boys were roughly pulled apart by four cops. These two boys fought so furiously that two officers were required for each boy to keep them from killing one another.

by Michael J Bowler

Are Children Merely Property?

In Children of the Knight, most, if not all, of the young characters have been tossed out by their parents or society-at-large like yesterday’s trash. Sadly, these characters are all based on reality, on real kids I’ve known over the years who were treated like property, rather than vulnerable human beings in need of love and nurturing.

Has America become such a throwaway nation that even our kids have become expendable? When I was growing up, if something broke we did our best to fix it. Nowadays if anything breaks, it’s thrown away and replaced with something new, even car fenders or doors that become dented. Hammer out the dent and repaint? No way! Too old school. Now we just junk the door or fender and put on a new one. Sadly, our children and teens have become just as disposable.

The characters of Mark and Jack were kicked out of their homes by their parents and had to live on the streets as prostitutes to survive. Did they do something virulently anti-social? Did they commit a serious crime? Did they assault and batter either parent? No. They were gay. That was their crime. They committed the most grievous offense kids can commit against parents – they weren’t carbon copy mini-me’s of the adults. So the adults discarded them as having no value. My parents taught me growing up that good character and honorability were more important than anything else. Sure, my dad wanted me to play sports and I sucked at sports, but he didn’t kick me to the curb because I didn’t play sports. Kids who are gay are just gay. They aren’t a failure or a mistake––they’re just kids. Those parents who mistreat them or mock them or discard them are less than human and should be severely punished. Sadly, they never are. Only the kids suffer.

And what of the gang kids like Esteban and Jaime and Darnell? Did they join gangs because they were filled with hope for the future and were rife with opportunities in their run-down ghetto neighborhoods? Of course not! And like so many gang members I’ve worked with over the years, they wished for a way out, something to latch on to other than the gang, but sadly there wasn’t much out there for kids like them. Other than Homeboy Industries, a program in LA to help gang members earn honest money and leave the lifestyle behind, there’s not much else. Do the adult society and the powers that be offer them any hope? No. All our society is willing to offer them is life in prison, despite the fact that it was the adult society who created the problem in the first place! I suppose to a disposable country like ours, that’s an equitable solution. We adults teach the kids how to be anti-social criminals and then throw them away when they act exactly how they’ve been taught. It’s almost like an age-based genocide. Shameful!

In Children of the Knight, Arthur’s new Round Table provides every kid a place to be on equal footing, from the jocks to the nerds to the gang members to the gay boys. With a common goal and a strong, caring man at the helm, these kids prove just how “not property” they really are. They prove to the city, nay the whole world that the might of kids is powerful and fierce and the spirit of kids is indomitable. Check out the book and decide for yourselves if kids have real value or are simply property to be disposed of when they break, kind of like that old iPad that can’t even be recycled. In the case of broken children, however, we can always make new ones, right?

About the Author:

Michael 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 childrenand 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.

Connect & Socialize with Michael!

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