Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Michael J. Bowler – What inspired you to write this book? @BradleyWallaceM

What inspired you to write this book?

by Michael J. Bowler

People ask me all the time, “What inspired you to write this book?” The answer is both easy and sad – society. I’ve been a volunteer within the juvenile justice system of Los Angeles for almost thirty years and a high school teacher for twenty-five. The idea for this book goes back fifteen or twenty years when I got to know and understand gang members better, as well as other disenfranchised youth I met within the system or at my high school.

I saw the success of Homeboy Industries here in LA and the effect its founder, Father Greg Boyle, had over gang members, even to the point of having enemies work side by side. And I talked with lots of gang members, homeless kids, cast-off gay kids, drug addicts, high school drops outs, and many who combined more than one of these “offenses against society.” I got to know these kids – they were the ones I gravitated to, and they to me. They seemed to know instinctively that I was open to them and would not shove them away or reject them like most adults had already done and continued to do.

Over time, I began to wonder what might happen if an adult, a strong leader, came along and united a lot of these marginalized kids and turned all their collected might toward positive endeavors. As people who’d been rejected and unloved, these kids had engaged in nothing but antisocial, destructive, and criminal behaviors. That’s where all of their negative energy and feelings were being directed.

After all, since society had rejected them and who they were as human beings, they rejected society and all its conventions and phony platitudes about doing what’s right. Society had wronged them so they felt they had the right to wrong society. But if that negative energy and might could be collected, harvested almost, by making these kids feel loved and important, by convincing them that working together made them much more formidable than working alone, they could effect real change in society for the good, not the bad, and the adult world would have to pay attention.

That experience and thinking process was the genesis for Children of the Knight. It seemed to me that the time of King Arthur with all the warring, feuding groups and clans of ancient Britain seemed very much like the gangs, tagging crews, and other posses of rejected kids we have roaming our streets, especially here in LA. It wasn’t a big leap from that thinking to the idea of King Arthur himself bringing together the lost kids of today.

I dedicated this book to all of the kids I’ve worked with over the years because they are the inspiration for this story, especially those 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 likely should have given up years before, inspired me through their undaunted ability to rise above their pasts and still possess hope for a better future. They are amazing!

Children of the Knight

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Genre – Edgy Young Adult

Rating – PG13

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