Do Awards and/or Good Reviews Help Spur Interest in Books?

Running Full CoverFinalistMD

Running Through A Dark Place, the second book in my epic 5 book series, The Knight Cycle, is a Finalist in the 2014 Rainbow Awards in the Young Adult category, which is super cool and I’m very honored to have been chosen and to be in the company of so many talented authors. The first book in the series, Children of the Knight, was a Finalist in the 2013 Rainbow Awards for the Young Adult category, and ended up in the top ten. With over 500 books submitted this year, and a number close to that last year, it’s amazing to be in the final 19 selected for the Young Adult category.

Children of the Knight was also given Honorable Mention in the 2014 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Young Adult Age 15-18 category, and it scored a Gold Award under Best Books For Teenagers from the UK-based The Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards.

My novel, A Matter of Time, won a 2012 Silver Medal from Reader’s Favorite under the Romance/Suspense category.

I do not post these awards for the purpose of bragging because that is not my persona. My purpose for this post is to ask fellow authors, and even readers, if winning an award for a book (obviously not something like the National Book Award) and/or getting good reviews helped spur visibility of the book and bring more readers to the table. Is there a way to promote awards and/or reviews (other than just through social media) that may attract more readers from the target audience?

In my case, there appears to have been no jump in sales or readers as a result of these awards. The awards are listed on Amazon with the book info, and of course I promote through social media. I also share the occasional review that pops up on Goodreads or Amazon for any of my books. The Knight Cycle is really one long epic story wherein each book begins exactly where the previous one ended, and thus need to be read in order. I, therefore, heavily promoted the first book in the series. These books feature gay teens in prominent roles, are ethnically and racially diverse, and don’t focus on any single issue, but on a great many issues facing teens and children in America today.

The Rainbow Awards is specifically targeted at books revolving around LGBT characters, and thus I was pleasantly surprised both years to be a finalist. However, those who read Rainbow Award winning books have shown virtually no interest in Children or Running. In other words, being a Finalist didn’t bring in any new readers. In the case of Children of the Knight, I did get some very positive reviews on Goodreads as a result of the book making it to the final round, but those good reviews didn’t generate much interest either.

The Wishing Shelf Awards and the Reader’s View Awards are mainstream competitions, and my wins in both have not produced any noticeable bump in reader interest.

Likewise, my Silver Medal for A Matter of Time has done nothing to garner more readership for that book.

So, back to my original question and the title of this post: does winning awards (other than major ones) and/or getting good reviews help bring readers to the table?

I don’t know the answer. But maybe some of you out there do. I’d love to hear from both authors and readers. For you authors out there, have awards and reviews helped your books, and if so, what did you do with the award and/or reviews that brought in new readers?

For you readers out there, do you care about awards or even reviews in selecting books to read? Personally, as a reader, I do look at both because I think that if a book has won an award, it might at least be worth exploring on Amazon. I also check out reviews, but steer clear of any that might contain spoilers. Almost all of the reviews for my books have been positive, but those reviews haven’t improved the visibility of the books or increased readership. I don’t have many followers on this blog, but I hope to hear from at least a few people out there because I’m very interested in your thoughts.

Thanks.

Sticker correct size Wishing Shelf AwardReader Views Awardimage description

2014 Rainbow Awards Finalists

Young Adult
Asher’s Fault by Elizabeth Wheeler
Educating Simon by Robin Reardon
Freak Camp: Posts From a Previously Normal Girl by Jessica V. Barnett
Heavyweight by MB Mulhall
Here’s to You, Zeb Pike by Johanna Parkhurst
Not Broken, Just Bent by Mia Kerick
Omorphi by C. Kennedy
Pray The Gay Away by Sara York
Red Devil by Kyell Gold
Running Through A Dark Place by Michael J. Bowler
Safe by Mark Zubro
Silent by Sara Alva
The Red Sheet by Mia Kerick
The Seventh Pleiade by Andrew J. Peters
This Is Not a Love Story by Suki Fleet
Us Three by Mia Kerick
Vivaldi in the Dark by Matthew J. Metzger
You’re Always in the Last Place You Look by T.N. Gates

And The Children Shall Lead is Coming Soon!

And the Children Shall Lead 600x900

And The Children Shall Lead (Children of the Knight IV) releases on (or around, depending on the vagaries of Amazon – LOL) September 25th, 2014. Here is the stunning cover designed by Reese Dante, who is truly gifted. Each cover in this series is more amazing than the last, front and back!

This book takes King Arthur and his youthful knights on a crusade to change the entire country, and sets the stage for the finale, which releases in November. I’m planning to write a longer blog post about diversity in YA literature soon, but I see a lot on GR, School Library Journal, tumblr, et al. about this topic, and then I wonder if any of the librarians or teachers are really serious about diversity. My Children of the Knight series has probably a greater diversity of ethnicities, races, sexual orientations all working together than any book series out there, YA or adult, and yet no one who works with teens seems interested in reading any of them. They want books with more Latino characters – mine have tons. It’s not hard to Google “books with diverse characters” or something similar and find titles like mine. So that begs the question, which I will explore in depth in that post: are these people talking the talk about diversity because it makes them look good, but ultimately don’t want to walk the walk and actually find appropriate books with diverse characters? I wonder…

In any case, here’s the blurb for Book IV:

The campaign to save California’s children was only the beginning. Now King Arthur and his Round Table of teenaged knights set their sights on fixing something even bigger – the entire country. How? By targeting America’s most sacred document – The Constitution.

Native American teens Kai and Dakota, despite harboring secrets of their own, join the team, and swear undying loyalty to Lance. They carry the hope of their people that the crusade will better the lives of Indian children, who are the most neglected by government. This new campaign will take the young people to The White House, the halls of Congress, and beyond in their quest to change the prevailing opinion that children are property, rather than human beings in their own right.

But an unseen nemesis stalks Lance and Arthur, and ratchets up the attacks on New Camelot, promising to kill them and destroy all that the king has put in place. Lance, Ricky, Kai, and Dakota become the enemy’s favorite targets, and barely escape with their lives on more than one occasion. Who is this mysterious stalker, and what is the motive for these attacks? Lance has no idea, especially since he’s never intentionally hurt anyone.

“You were right, little boy, death is coming for you, but slowly, and only after it takes out the people you love.” That chilling promise haunts Lance, but also strengthens his determination to protect the people he loves at all costs. Or die trying.

The Knight Cycle continues…

And The Children Shall Lead - CreateSpace.psd

There Is No Fear

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“Children of the Knight III: There Is No Fear” releases on Thursday, July 17th. Links will be posted at that time. This is the third book in a five-book series that began with “Children of the Knight” and continued with “Running Through A Dark Place” that explores the whole “children are property” mentality infesting American society, and how that mentality has led to the marginalization and throwing away of more and more kids each year. Kids who don’t fit, are poor, gang-involved, gay, or  in any way don’t fit the “mold” adults set for them are targeted for jail, prison, “re-education” farms, neglect and abuse. They have no real rights as human beings under the Constitution except the right to be sent to prison when they seriously screw up. Join a multi-racial group of teens who band together under the leadership of a resurrected King Arthur and his adult allies to right the wrongs that have been perpetrated against them, and to gain children in America real rights and protections under the law. These books do need to be read in order because they are one long continuous story spanning four years. Check out the reviews of the first two books, but beware of spoilers, especially in those for “Running.” The covers for my books have all been designed by the amazing Reese Dante, whose praises I can’t sing more loudly. She is immensely talented and a joy to work with. Authors – hire her – you won’t be disappointed!

THERE IS NO FEAR

The most famous boy in the world is a prisoner. He’s been charged with a crime he didn’t commit, a crime that could send him to prison for the rest of his life. Languishing within The Compound, the most secure juvenile facility in California, while the district attorney vows to make an example of him because of his celebrity status, Lance must endure the daily indignities of the incarcerated.

New Camelot is fractured without him. Ricky and Chris are bereft, living for the weekly phone call that becomes their only lifeline to the brother they so desperately love, while Arthur and Jenny feel the loss of their son with a sadness that can’t be quelled. And what about Michael, the highly volatile teen who helped write the proposition that will change California forever? Could he really be the monster he says he is? His hatred of Ricky is palpable, and his instability may well threaten the lives of everyone at New Camelot.

As the election looms closer, Proposition 51 takes on an even greater significance in light of the pending trial of the century. The more harshly fifteen-year-old Lance is treated within the broken justice system, the more he contemplates the wisdom of his idea that children need more adult rights. If The Child Voter Act becomes law, won’t it simply allow adults to throw more kids into prison with impunity?

Whichever way the voters decide, his greatest fear remains the same: will he ever again be with the people he loves?

The Knight Cycle Continues…

Full Cover

Mia Kerick’s Foreword to “Running Through A Dark Place”

 

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Sir Lance met author Mia Kerick when she interviewed him at Eucalyptus Park one night shortly after King Arthur’s crusade to gain more rights for children in America began in earnest. He really liked that lady and felt that she, much like Helen Schaeffer of Channel 7 News, honestly cared about him and what he was fighting for. So when I wrote the second part of the story, “Running Through A Dark Place,” Lance asked if the Lady Mia, as he calls her, could write something at the beginning, to introduce the story. I relayed Lance’s request to Ms. Kerick, and she jumped at the chance. She has become very passionate about Arthur’s crusade and the youth who populate his world, and you’ll feel her passion in the eloquence of her words. She stressed over the fact that she’d never written a Foreword before and that it might not look right and said I could change anything. For someone who never wrote a Foreword in the past, she sure hit one out of the park with her first. It’s by turns heartfelt and poetic, and absolutely perfect. I didn’t change anything. Sir Lance says, “Thank you so much, Lady Mia! You’re amazing.” I agree with him.

 

FOREWORD

“I wonder if what makes a family a family isn’t doing everything right all the time but, instead, giving a second chance to the people you love who do things wrong.”

~Jodi Picault

 

I’ve always been what you might call a black and white person. As such, in my novels, the good characters are very, very good. These characters start out good, and though they may falter, in general terms, they stay good, ultimately emerging from the novel even better than ever. In the same way, my bad characters are examples of pure evil. I have created them to serve a purpose: to foil the noble decency of the “good person.”

In that same manner have I long viewed the characters in my own life story. You are my friend or you are my enemy. You are with me or you are against me. With this frame of reference, negotiating my way through a crowd of friends and neighbors becomes quite simple, and easy, too. This one-dimensional, black and white, way of viewing those who surround me, requires less thinking, less analyzing, less patience and commitment, than if I had allowed myself to see the world in shades of gray.

Since meeting Michael Bowler, the author of Running Through a Dark Place, however, I have experienced profound personal change in this restricted area of my mind. Michael Bowler, a man whose very existence defines the term humanitarian, believes that human beings are fallible, and as such, they make mistakes. And thus, human beings are entitled to second chances in life. In particular, Bowler’s unwavering commitment to the need for a second chance pertains to children. As Bowler sees it, inherent to a child’s very nature is the entitlement to make mistakes, the right to “mess up” and to be allowed another shot. In other words, the very essence of childhood nullifies a requirement for perfection.

And I assure you, in Running Through a Dark Place, Bowler’s youthful characters—his colorful Knights of the Round Table—err quite frequently. They mess up, they pay a price, and then newly enlightened adults forgive them, so that they may return to the table to try again. These children, in fact, usually do much better the second time around. Echoes of the sentiment “no matter what transpires, you must never give up on him” resonate from the lips of adults who offer second, and even third chances. The children, themselves, also acknowledge their need for multiple opportunities to get things right. One character spells it out quite clearly, saying, “I’m just a kid…who needs to figure out who he is and what his place is in this crazy world. I messed up, I know that, and I’ll do my best not to mess up again. But if I do, stick with me.”

The notion of affording second chances, however, permeates the entirety of the novel, extending well beyond the youthful characters’ needs for redemption. In Running Through a Dark Place, adults need second chances in romantic love. The corrupt mayor requires a new chance to see the light, as well as the opportunity to change his ways. A world-weary mother needs a chance to reconsider her attitude and react properly. Even the crusade around which the novel’s action revolves—the struggle by King Arthur and the youthful Knights of the Round Table to secure equality for children in an adult’s world—requires a second chance, from an unknown source, to reinvent itself after a tragic event that threatens to derail it.

Closely tied to Bowler’s belief that human beings need and deserve second chances, is his firm commitment to the notion that people are actually capable of profound change. It is an optimistic view, and when I saw evidence of it at work in Book I of this series, Children of the Knight, where insensitive cops grew big hearts and teachers who expected little to nothing of their students again became impassioned, I was at first uncomfortable and skeptical. But soon I found in my heart a growing seed of hope. In addition, the capability to change applies to former gang members, worthless societal burdens in the eyes of many. “I never had no real choices,” one teenaged gang member said, “not till this man came along and showed me how to be good, how to be a man, how to make a difference for other people.” In Bowler’s eyes, if you possess a soul, you possess the necessary means to change. To see the light. To make good use of that second chance you have been so graciously granted.

By virtue of its very title, Running Through a Dark Place is a testament to change and second chances. The process of growing and changing and finding oneself can be dark and terrifying. It holds potential to make a human being feel as if he is scrambling—terrified and alone— through a dimly lit city street, in fear of his life. But Bowler understands that when you have successfully run through the dark place, having been given as many chances as you need to arrive at the light on the other side, you will acquire redemption. You will find what is right.

In conclusion, since familiarizing myself with Michael Bowler the author, as well as Michael Bowler, the person—the selfless volunteer, the man of faith, the committed friend, the unquestionable humanitarian—my world view has changed radically. Or rather, my view of my brothers and sisters, who are struggling to achieve their second chances and find the path to virtue right along beside me, has been forever altered. My mind has been opened to the possibility that, given the faith and the opportunity, even those I considered my enemies, can become my truest friends.

The novel Running Through a Dark Place has been instrumental in this profound change in me. In it I saw well-defined examples of people taking advantage of second chances. I saw tangible proof that people can change.

Through my connection with Michael Bowler, I have come to believe that today is my second chance to make my own personal change in how I live my life.

I will take this chance.

Mia Kerick

Young Adult Author

Intervention, Not Broken, Just Bent, The Red Sheet, Us Three

Gilford, NH

 

Running Full Cover

http://www.amazon.com/Running-Through-Dark-Place-Children/dp/0990306305/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_dnr_2

MIA KERICK CHARACTER INTERVIEW with MICHAEL “If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear.” – the monster to Victor in Frankenstein

Check out this Interview With A Monster. The contest is over, but Michael, of “Running Through A Dark Place,” still compels.

Mia Kerick

“If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear.” – the monster to Victor in Frankenstein

Interview with Michael, newest member of Arthur’s Round Table in

“Running Through A Dark Place.”

michaelm

I am not what you would call an experienced journalist, but occasionally I pin my press ID card to my lapel and head in into the trenches to conduct an interview of a fictional character who intrigued me in some way or another. The character I interviewed yesterday, Michael (refused to give his last name) of Running Through a Dark Place, indeed, had a significant impact on me as I read book 2 in Michael Bowler’s Children of theKnight series.

What sort of an impression did he leave on my mind…on my heart? I will allow you to draw your own conclusions as you read our interaction, but I will say that Michael is what I would…

View original post 1,886 more words

“RUNNING THROUGH A DARK PLACE” IS HERE!

Running Full Cover

Running Through A Dark Place – the first of four sequels to Children of the Knight that will complete the story is available NOW from Amazon. This book is bigger and more daring than the first, and still just the beginning of an epic and controversial crusade to transform the country and give more rights to kids. A fable, yes. But it would be so cool if it wasn’t, and America would be a far better place if she truly valued her children, instead of just saying she does.

One reviewer who read the pre-release copy had this to say:

“From the moment I opened Michael Bowler’s Running Through a Dark Place, I didn’t want to stop reading. Alas, I was periodically required to halt; Nature, of course, periodically called my name and, more overwhelmingly, I experienced a frequent compulsion to pause long enough to share my delight—to text my sister, “I’m reading an epic tale”, or to message a Facebook friend, “Michael Bowler is a genius with plot twists”, or to scribble furious notes on a nearby scrap paper, detailing the message of choice and change in the name of equality for children. Give in to the urge, as I did, to read Bowler’s compelling story of modern-day King Arthur and his youthful Knights of the Round Table, as they crusade for justice. And I strongly suggest you keep paper and pen, as well as fortifying snacks and drinks, close by your side. You are going to need them.” – Kris

Here’s the back cover blurb and a snippet of the amazing Foreword by author Mia Kerick:

King Arthur and his extraordinary young Knights used ‘might’ for ‘right’ to create a new Camelot in the City of Angels. They rallied the populace around their cause, while simultaneously putting the detached politicians in check. But now they must move forward to even greater heights, despite what appears to be an insurmountable tragedy. 
Their new goal is lofty: give equality to kids fourteen and older who are presently considered adults only when they break the law. Arthur’s crusade seeks to give them real rights such as voting, driving, trading high school for work, and sitting as jurors for their peers charged with criminal behavior. 
Understanding that the adults of California will likely be against them, Arthur and his Knights must determine how best to win them over. 
However, before the king can even contemplate these matters, he finds himself face to face with an ally from the past, one who proves that everything isn’t always what it seems – even life and death. 
The Knight Cycle Continues… 

“By virtue of its very title, Running Through a Dark Place is a testament to change and second chances. The process of growing and changing and finding oneself can be dark and terrifying. It holds potential to make a human being feel as if he is scrambling—terrified and alone— through a dimly lit city street, in fear of his life. But Bowler understands that when you have successfully run through the dark place, having been given as many chances as you need to arrive at the light on the other side, you will acquire redemption. You will find what is right.” — Mia Kerick, Young Adult Author

SPOILER ALERT: If you plan to read Children of the Knight (this second one will make little sense if you don’t), BE WARNED not to read the “Look Inside” or Kindle preview on Amazon. This book picks up exactly where the first one ended, and there will be MAJOR Spoilers revealed.

Here are the Amazon links:

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Running-Through-Dark-Place-Children-ebook/dp/B00KA2WZVU/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1399900724&sr=1-2&keywords=Running+Through+A+Dark+Place

Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Running-Through-Dark-Place-Children/dp/0990306305/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1399902586&sr=1-1&keywords=Running+Through+A+Dark+Place

MIA KERICK’S INTERVIEW WITH LANCE SEPULVEDA, MC OF CHILDREN OF THE KNIGHT AND COMMENTS ON THE SERIES

 

Lance (no color)

(sitting in the rented grey Chevy Malibu, parked on the street perpendicular to Eucalyptus Park, palms sweating slightly while clutching the steering wheel)

 

Mia: (says aloud to self) I never get nervous before a character interview… maybe it’s just that I’m across the country from home. And I’m waiting here alone—in a neighborhood I don’t know—for a boy I’ve never met. Yeah…that’s got to be it.

 

Mia: (pulling phone from pocket of jeans, finds text message in three separate long sections sent around dinner time from Lance Sepulveda, the boy to be interviewed) I’ll just brush up on Lance’s story. That should make this whole process a bit easier.

 

Hi, Lady Mia. Here’s my sorry-ass story:

 

I’m Lance Sepulveda. Least that’s what they called me in Children’s Services when I was a baby. On the streets today they call me “Pretty Boy” ’cuz I’m Mexican with long-ass hair and wicked green eyes. Basically, my life sucks and it’s always sucked. Never met my dad – that jerk split before I’s born. My mom, well let’s not even go there. I grew up in foster homes or the streets my whole life. How I made it to fourteen I’ll never know. Especially after . . . well, after what happened. Anyway, I don’t trust no one. I got no friends and I don’t want none, either.

School sucks big time. Not that I’m not smart – I’m hella smart. All my teachers said so since first grade. It’s just that everybody gots to do the same thing and the stupid schools act like everybody wants to go to college. Hell, everybody don’t wanna go to college and everybody don’t need it, either. What if a kid wants to be a mechanic or something? There aren’t no classes like that. I figured out long ago that the system isn’t about us kids, it’s just about the grownups and what they want and what they can get for themselves. I got one cool teacher at Mark Twain High named Ms. McMullen. She’s real pretty and seems like somebody I could trust if I needed to. But then, I don’t usually need to ’cuz I run my own, and I miss a lot of school, anyway.

Why? Cuz I skate. That’s what I do. That’s who I am. Right now I’m on the run from Children’s Services ’cuz I’m sick and tired of people using me or . . . , well, doing worse stuff, too. Much worse. That’s another system s’posed to be for kids and it’s the grownups who get everything out of it. Us kids don’t get jack! In fact, the whole city, no the whole country, is all about what grownups want and not what kids need. That’s why everything’s so messed up. So me, I just skate. I’m the best street skater around, and I’m goin’ to the X-Games one day and I’m gonna win a gold medal. Hell, a bunch ’a gold medals! At least, those were my plans. Until I met Arthur.

When I first met him, it was like, the baddest thing I ever seen. Here was this crazy knight on a horse. A horse! In ghetto Lennox! And an armored-up dude carrying the biggest-ass sword I ever saw! That caught my eye for sure. Like I said, I don’t trust no one, and didn’t trust him at first, neither. But something about the guy made me listen to his crazy-ass ideas. And yeah, they were the craziest I ever heard in my sorry life, but the most exciting, too. Something about a crusade, a children’s crusade, here in Los Angeles, a crusade to help all the throwaway kids like me. Hell, my so-called life wasn’t going nowhere at the moment anyway, so I figured, why not? Might be fun. So I joined up. And man, did everything change after that, and now I know sure that nothing will ever be the same.

 

Mia: (gets out of car) Well, that is really quite the bio…and he’s only fourteen years old.

 

Mia: (crosses street and walks to back side of skate park) This is where I’m supposed to meet him. But it’s ten at night and dark and…well, shoot, I’m talking aloud to my self again. If he hears, he’s going to wonder about me.)

 

l (3)

 

 

Mia: (walks right up to fence and places hands on bars, looks in at what resembles an empty shallow swimming pool, by the light of the stars… watches the only boy, clad in a white tunic with long dark hair flying behind him in the breeze, skate around the empty park)

Hawthorne, CA Skatepark

Mia: Uhh!! (gasps as the boy kicks and powers his board up a fairly steep ramp and sails into the air like a bird)

Skater

Mia: Oh, jeez! Please be careful!! (actually shouts this as he flies through mid-air)

Oh…um, hello. (sees she has caught his attention, watches as he lands clean and screeches to a stop, glancing in her direction warily)

 

Mia: “Um…Hi, there, Lance. I’m Mia Kerick…you know, the author friend of Helen’s. We texted each other earlier today? (points to her phone)

 

Lance: (walks slowly toward the fence, still extremely wary) Hello, ma’am.

Lance in Park

Mia: I watched you on your skateboard for a while. You’re pretty awesome.

 

Lance: (his voice tinged with pride) Thank you, Lady Mia.

 

Mia: So, where would you feel comfortable talking? (very concerned that Lance might just bolt away into the night)

 

Lance: (pointing through the fence at a swing set nearby) Over there.

 

Mia: (wondering if this entire interview is going to be like pulling teeth, wipes moist palms on jeans) Sounds perfect.

 

Lance: (sticks skateboard though fence, then steps back and easily scales the high fence, dropping to his feet with the agility of a cat)

 

Mia: Well, I must say, I’m once again quite impressed. (is tempted to pick up Lance’s skateboard from the ground, but suspecting it would not be appreciated)

 

Lance: (grabs board and steps in front of her, but not so that his back is ever completely presented) This way.

 

Mia: (stays a few feet to his side, as Lance refuses to allow her any closer)

Thanks for agreeing to meet me here tonight, Lance. (breathing heavily, trying to keep up)

swings

 

Lance: (stopping in front of a swing set and nodding toward the middle seat) You can sit here, Lady Mia. (steps over to swing to the right—on the edge, Mia suspects so he could make an easy getaway, if need be) I’ll sit here.

 

Mia: (glancing over at Lance, who is sitting still on the swing, one hand on the chain, one hand draped over the skateboard on his lap) So, I’m curious…why did you pick this place to talk?

 

Lance: (in a quiet voice) I love this place at night. It’s peaceful.

 

Mia: Arthur told me that you taught him to ride the swings here.

 

Lance: (breaks into the first smile I have seen yet, and it is so captivating that I gasp a bit) That was the most amazing time I ever had here. I always loved these swings at night cuz there be nobody around and I could just fly high in the sky and feel free. But with Arthur that time, it just felt . . . I dunno. Better. Not lonely no more, you know?

 

Mia: (nods and smiles) He said he loved it.

 

Lance: (still smiling) It was perfect.

 

mia

 

Mia: (pulling a small pad of paper and a pencil out of her tote bag, along with her glasses that she puts on) Well, let’s start with this: Could you tell me about your earliest memory?

 

Lance: (looks over at me for clarification) You mean before I met Arthur?

 

Mia: (recalling his bio, she realizes that meeting Arthur was when Lance must consider his life having really begun) Yes, Lance. Tell me about your first memory in life.

 

Lance: (stares in front of him into the night) I ’member asking my foster mom for seconds at dinner and she slapped my hand and told me not to be so greedy. I didn’t even know what that word meant. Just knew I was still hungry. I was, like, three or four.

 

Mia: (frowning a bit, but jotting down the answer) Wow. I’m sorry. (pauses) How about a fun question—if you could have any superpower, what would it be?

 

Lance: (without hesitation) I would be invisible fer sure. I always, like, felt like that anyway, and when one of my moods hits me, it’d be so dope to just disappear, you know, till I got myself together. (looks somber and thoughtful for a moment) ’Course, if I had that power no one wouldda ever hurt me like they done, cuz I couldda just got away easy. Too bad there ain’t no such thing, huh?

 

Mia: It sounds like you’d really prefer being invisible even now—but now you’re in the spotlight all the time, aren’t you? Like a celebrity… Is there anything you like about being in the spotlight? Or anything you really hate about it?

 

Lance: Um, dunno. I never wanted to be noticed much ’cept for my skating, so being in the spotlight, like you said, is mostly weird and makes me nervous. I believe in what we be tryin’ to do out here, and it’s cool being First Knight cuz that means Arthur believes in me, but seeing my face all over the Internet and stuff is kinda creepy. I guess the worst thing is that everybody’s looking at me all the time and I feel like they can see my secrets, you know, all the stuff I never want anyone to find out. (glances over in an attempt to establish eye contact)

 

Mia: (knowing Lance is still wary, but trying hard to stay engaged in conversation, smiles and returns his gaze) So, it seems that you are really dedicating yourself to this “crusade” with Arthur. Can you tell me about your current goals as First Knight?

 

Lance: We’re gonna make things better for kids, Lady Mia, kids like me who been treated like shit, my bad, like crap, kids like Mark and Jack who got kicked out by their folks just cuz they’re gay. (glances down, looking slightly embarrassed, and then back up) That kinda stuff, Lady Mia, it’s pura paja and I’m gonna help change it.

 

Mia: (looks confused) Pura paja? What does that mean?

 

Lance: (eyes her sheepishly) Spanish for ‘pure bullshit’. Sorry, Lady Mia, for cussing, but what grownups do to kids in this country is pure bullshit and Arthur and me and the others, we’re gonna stop it.

 

Mia: (nods admiringly and smiles to assure him his cussing isn’t a problem) Don’t worry about swearing, Lance. If you check out my books, you’ll see that my characters swear all the time… And, besides, I agree with you. Ready for another question?

 

Lance: (nods)

 

Mia: Friends are usually very important to kids. You said in your bio you didn’t have any. Is that really true?

 

Lance: (kicking at the dirt with his beaten up black and white skate shoes) Yup. I’m a loner.

 

Mia: (surprised) No friends at all?

 

Lance: (shakes his head, his gaze focused on the silent skate park in front of him)

 

Mia: Well, how about this: if you could be any animal, what would it be?

 

Lance: (without hesitation) I’d be a wolf cuz then nobody would mess with me. I’d rip out their throats if they tried.

 

wolf

 

Mia: (coughing a bit from surprise) Kind of like a lone wolf? That’s how you grew up?

 

Lance: (nods, but doesn’t turn to look at her. He seems lost in memories of his dark childhood)

 

Mia: (clears throat and he finally looks over; the sadness on his face touches her) But you aren’t a lone wolf anymore, right? Now you have a group of other knights that are close to you.

 

Lance: (nods silently, biting his lower lip thoughtfully)

 

Mia: (smiles warmly) Let’s play a game. I will say someone’s name, and you say the first thing that comes to mind, okay?

 

Lance: (nods again)

 

Mia: Arthur

Lance: Dad

Mia: Reyna

Lance: badass

Mia: Jack

Lance: buff as hell

Mia: Mark

Lance: first friend

Mia: Chris

Lance: brother

Mia: Lady Jenny

Lance: teacher

Mia: Esteban

Lance: scary

 

Mia: (slightly out of breath) That certainly was rapid fire!! You’re very good at this game. You’re Arthur’s number one knight. So, of all the kids in this crusade, who would you say is your biggest supporter?

 

Lance: Chris is my biggest supporter cuz he, like, really loves me. Thinks I’m some kinda superhero or something. (laughs self-consciously) But so does Mark. I never had friends before and it’s hard for me. But Mark lets me in, you know, shares stuff with me, and makes me feel special cuz he does that. And he has my back. Jack does too. At first, Jack made me nervous, but now that I got to know him, he’s pretty amazing. But Mark is the first friend I ever really had, so I guess he’s my biggest supporter right now. But all three are there for me 24/7.

 

Mia: Chris is the youngest, right? Do you have any particular hopes for Chris’s life?

 

Lance: (faraway eyes) I wanna protect him, ya know, so he don’t gotta go through what I did. I wanna give him everything, an’ I just wanna hug him a lot cuz I never got any. But mostly I wanna see him stay innocent, ya know? I know I can’t do that forever, but it’d be cool to keep him that way for a long minute, wouldn’t it?

 

Mia: Yes, it certainly would be nice to be able to let children be children for as long as possible. I think maybe you will be his biggest role model in life. Who is your role model?

 

Lance: (looks back at me intently; I know he is serious about what he is going to say)

Arthur. He’s everything I wanna be when I grow up. He’s strong and real confident, but gentle, too, when he’s gotta be. Most of the men I been meeting my whole life are, like, whatever when it comes to kids. But Arthur listens to me. Most ’a the time, anyways. He’s been super busy these days with the crusade and all. But he’s a good man and I hope I can be like that too.

 

Mia: Thank you, Lance. Great answer! (frantically scribbling notes in notepad) Here are a couple of different kinds of questions, and they involve everything we have talked about so far. What does the word “family” mean to you?

 

Lance: (still staring into my eyes) Arthur and Chris and Mark and, well, the whole Round Table. Only family I ever had. Blood don’t make family, Lady Mia, love does.

 

Mia: (nods in agreement) And home? What does the word “home” mean to you?

 

Lance: It used to mean anywhere I could lay down my head. But now it means anywhere Arthur is.

 

Mia: (reaching in her bag for tissues) Well, that was a very sweet answer to a very sensitive question. And I think I’d like to ask you some more…well, personal, types of questions, at this point. Would you be willing to answer them?

 

Lance: (leans back on swing, his tone instantly cautious) Depends on the question.

 

Mia: (dabbing at eyes with tissue) Can I try?

 

Lance: (nods and swings just a little bit, as if he needs to distract himself) Okay.

 

Mia: (suddenly gets up off of swing, needs a break before personal questions…sees Lance jump back defensively) Oh, I’m sorry! Lance, I didn’t mean to startle you.

 

Lance: (eyes her cautiously before slowly sinking back down on the swing)

 

Mia: Would you care for a drink? (reaches in bag and pulls out two bottles of water, hands one to Lance)

 

Lance: (takes one and examines bottle cap carefully for evidence of tampering) Thanks.

 

Mia: Now for the personal questions. Let’s start with things you hate.

 

Lance: I hate school cuz it’s boring and never seems to be about real life, ya know? I hate crowded places like malls. I hate Children’s Services. I hate all my foster parents, especially . . . (stops then, refuses to go on.) Can we go to the next question, please?

 

Mia: (uncertain, but still hopeful he won’t shut down) What has been the most satisfying thing to have ever happened to you?

 

Lance: (speaking clearly, confident in this answer) Meeting Arthur. ’Fore him, my life was shitty. Sorry, crappy. When I told him the truth about me one night and he didn’t push me away like I thought he would, that was, like, the most amazing thing. I started to think I might really be worth something and not just trash like everybody always said.

 

Mia: (jots down a few notes and then places pencil behind ear) This one might be harder, so get ready. Do you believe in God?

 

Lance: (looks thoughtful a moment as he considers his answer) I never thought much about God till I met my, I mean, Arthur. He believes, so I guess I’m trying to. Some of my foster parents talked about believing in God when they were stealing my money and locking me in closets ‘for my own good’. That didn’t seem like something God would want and I figured if that was what believing in God meant, then I wouldn’t. But Arthur’s different. He says God is good and wants us to be good. And Arthur’s good, so maybe God is up there, after all.

 

Mia: This “personal” part is going very well, I think.

 

Lance: Uh, yeah, I guess, sure. (tries for that disarming smile he’s become known for)

 

Mia: Can you tell me about your biggest disappointment?

 

Lance: That I had no life till now. I never even got to be a kid, Lady Mia. Does that suck balls or what? (looks embarrassed) Oh, sorry.

 

Mia: Don’t worry, it is quite all right. I know just what you mean. I’m really very interested in how you see yourself. Can you tell me what you LIKE about yourself?

 

Lance: (fidgets uncomfortably) I’m a kick-ass skater. No BS, Lady Mia, that’s just truth. I like my hair. I guess that’s it.

 

Mia: And on the flipside, what do you NOT LIKE about yourself?

 

Lance: (sighs and looks out at the skate park again) Everything else.

 

Mia: (surprised) Really?

 

Lance: (nods silently, refuses to look at her)

 

Mia: (sensing that Lance is avoiding something very personal) Do you think that a person can hide from himself, Lance?

 

Lance: (squirms nervously and still refuses to make eye contact at all) Not sure I like that question, Lady Mia. If you be meaning stuff I hate about myself, then yeah, I do. Cuz I want to. I have to. Can we go to another question, please?

 

Mia: (certain now that she has overstepped Lance’s comfort zone, thus, the interview is, for all intents and purposes, over, studies the stricken look on Lance’s face and the way he is looking toward the ground) Well, then, on a positive note, let’s end our interview with this question: If everything went just right, where do you want to be one year from now?

 

Lance: (takes a deep breath, clearly relieved that the interview is almost over) Still with Arthur, running the crusade, helping kids like me and the others against the grownups who don’t care. All I used to want was to win the X Games cuz that’s all I ever thought I was, a skater. But now I know I can do somethin’ for real out here an’ I jus wanna keeping going, you know, see how far we can get. So Chris and other little kids can have a real life, you know?

 

Mia: I think it is only fair, since you answered my questions with such honesty, that you have a chance to ask one of me.

 

Lance: (looks over at her with a steady gaze) You been reading about me on the news and seeing me on TV, I know, cuz everybody has. So now that you got to meet me for real, whadda you think?

 

Mia: (wiping her eyes one more time with a crumpled tissue and smiling) I think that you are everything a boy should be. You are brave—or you would not have shown up to answer my questions—and smart—seeing as you answered them so completely. But you are kind and sensitive, too. You’ve opened up your heart to love a family you have chosen, and you act every day as a generous brother to the others, as well as a courageous knight. But what I am most impressed with is that you are able to care about the kids you cannot even see—just random kids you know are out there, suffering, and you are willing to sacrifice to give them a better life. That, Lance, is what I think.

 

Lance: (standing up, facing Mia) Thank you, Lady Mia. (pauses a moment, looking like he might tear up) That was the coolest thing anyone ever said to me. (bows to her in a courtly way)

 

Mia: (blushing, never having been bowed to so chivalrously) And I meant every word. Well, I suppose I should get back to the hotel now… I have an interview to write up.

 

Lance: It’s not real safe out here at night. I’ll walk you to your car.

 

Mia: (blushing again, impressed by the excellent manners of this 14-year-old boy) That is very sweet of you.

 

Lance: (walks to the rental car, this time close beside Mia, watches as she gets in) You’re a nice lady and I’m glad I met you.

chevy

 

Mia: (rolls window down) Thank you, Lance for your openness and honesty. I really hope that someday we will meet again.

 

Lance: (smiles again) That would be way cool. Drive careful, Lady Mia. The people out here be crazy-ass drivers. (laughs and holds up a hand in farewell)

 

Mia: (returns the smile) I’ll be careful. ‘Night, Lance.

 

Lance: (watches as Mia Kerick drives away… turns and ambles off down the dark city street clutching his board in one hand and the bottle of water in the other)

 

darkstreet

 

What an amazing interview, but I cannot take the credit for it. The character Lance is created by Michael Bowler, a very talented YA author, who knows what he writes about, as he works with kids from challenging backgrounds every day of his life.

Before I post more about Children of the Knight, which is only book I in a series of action/adventure/romance/coming-of-age novels written by Michael Bowler, I will encourage you to begin your own personal journey NOW, before Book II, Running Through a Dark Place, is released. This is a series that is epic in every sense–NOT TO BE MISSED by those who love classics! Take it from me, an author, yes, but also beta reader for the remainder of the Children of the Knight series, this series is utterly captivating. Here is a direct quotation from a PRIVATE conversation between Michael Bowler and me.

My words describing my reaction to the conclusion of Book III in the series:

“I would say that my eyes were full of tears…

my heart beat differently…

and I forgot to swallow…

That is how I get when I am captivated…

and I was on a high…

I had to message you…

had to.”

The time is NOW to read Children of the Knight so that you will be ready to read Running Through a Dark Place when it is released!!

 

BUY LINKS:

http://www.amazon.com/Children-Knight-Library-Edition-Michael/dp/1623809258/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_d_7

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3900&cPath=816_817

 

YA Central Ad v4

 

 

 

Now THIS NEXT PART IS BIG NEWS!!! Leave a comment or a question for author Michael Bowler and you will be entered into a raffle to win the prize pack below, along with an ebook of Children of the Knight:

Mousepad kit

 

SECRET HINT FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO STUCK BY TILL THE BITTER END!!!

Go to Mia Kerick’s blog at http://miakerick.com/blog/ to enter for another chance at winning a very similar (AWESOME) prize pack!!!!