Are you reading any interesting books at the moment?
I’m currently slogging my way through the “Song of Ice and Fire” series, though I’m not loving it as I was told by friends I likely would. I’m maybe five hundred pages into the second book but don’t feel compelled to pick it up every day. These books are well written, but slow moving. Since I tend to write YA books, I like to read current YA that is popular just to see what kids like.
I just finished “City of Bones” and found that one uninvolving to the point I’ll not read the sequels. I realize I’m not the target audience for books like that, but I loved the Harry Potter and original Percy Jackson series so some do interest me. I’m just about to begin The Fault in Our Stars, which I’ve heard is an outstanding book, and I try to support fellow Harmony Ink authors if they write something I think I might enjoy.
Are there any new authors who have sparked your interest and why?
J.R. Lenk, who wrote one book, published in 2012, called Collide, is an up and coming talent to watch. I wrote a long review for Amazon and Goodreads because I was so impressed by the writing and the maturity of the writing, especially given that Lenk was seventeen when he wrote it. Normally, I wouldn’t have read a book like that because it’s a niche I didn’t read, but I stumbled upon it scrolling through Goodreads and when I learned the author’s age (eighteen upon publication), as a long-time high school teacher I wanted to check it out.
It may not be your cup of tea and, as I pointed out in my review, I couldn’t relate to any of the experiences the high school kids had in the story, but the raw emotions this author was able to conjure sucked me in and entangled my heart and got me totally caught up within the lives of his two main characters. A book’s description has to interest me more than the author or I won’t read the book, but Lenk is an amazing writer and I will at least consider reading whatever he releases next.
How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?
The sheer scope of this story was a bit intimidating. It’s the first of a trilogy and each subsequent installment begins exactly where the previous one ended, almost as though they were all one book. Thus I had to map out all three of them even as I was writing the first one so everything would connect and add up.
There are also a lot of characters, and the overriding goal of gaining more rights for kids in this country is so huge that I have been working nonstop since June of 2012 to complete the series, while also helping get the current book edited and ready for publication. My advice to other writers might be, “think smaller” in terms of plot. Ha! While my book has distinct fantasy elements and is, at heart, a fable, it is set in the real world of today and the issues it depicts and decries are very real and very destructive. Thus it was a delicate balancing act to make the story play out in a believable fashion. Hopefully, I succeeded!
Have you ever considered anyone as a mentor?
I had two amazing English teachers in high school and three in college who really inspired me and encouraged my writing. They spent lots of time helping me shape my ideas and thoughts and express them in ways that others could read and enjoy. Plus, the high school teachers had such a positive, nurturing influence on me that I wanted to go into teaching as well as writing so I could perhaps touch the lives of kids the way they had touched mine.
On the non-education side, Father Greg Boyle, who runs Homeboy Industries is a friend and mentor and a personal hero of mine. I’ve learned an extraordinary amount about humility, decency, compassion, and unbending resolve from this remarkable man.
What’s your greatest strength as a writer?
Some writers have outstanding descriptive abilities or poetic ways to turn a phrase. I’m not one of those. Ha! My greatest strength, based on reader responses to my work, is in creating characters readers like and can relate to, no matter how fantastical the plot might be. My second book, A Matter of Time, involved time travel and an intricate plot with supernatural elements, but readers said it all worked on the strength of the characters and how well I created their inner lies and emotions.
I’ve been getting the same response to Children of the Knight, which pleases me. The books I loved most growing up weren’t necessarily those with the fanciest prose, but rather those wherein I got emotionally caught up with the characters, could relate to those characters, and truly cared what befell those characters. That kind of emotional attachment to fictional people is what I strive for in my writing, and it seems I am succeeding.
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 of unwanted 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 of themselves and their worth to society. But seeking more rights for kids pits Arthur and the children squarely 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.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Edgy Young Adult
Rating – PG13