Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Spinner by Michael J. Bowler Teaser, Giveaway, Interview & Excerpt

Michael J. Bowler

Genre: teen horror/mystery

Publisher: YoungDudes Publishing

Date of Publication: August 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9946675-1-9

Number of pages: 464
Word Count: 138K

Cover Artist: Louis C. Harris

Book Description:

Fifteen-year-old Alex is a “spinner.” His friends are “dummies.” Two clandestine groups of humans want his power. And an ancient evil is stalking him. If people weren’t being murdered, Alex might laugh at how his life turned into a horror movie overnight.

In a wheelchair since birth, his freakish ability has gotten him kicked out of ten foster homes since the age of four. Now saddled with a sadistic housemother who uses his spinning to heal the kids she physically abuses, Alex and his misfit group of learning disabled classmates are the only ones who can solve the mystery of his birth before more people meet a gruesome end.

They need to find out who murdered their beloved teacher, and why the hot young substitute acts like she’s flirting with them. Then there’s the mysterious medallion that seems to have unleashed something malevolent, and an ancient prophecy suggesting Alex has the power to destroy humanity.

The boys break into homes, dig up graves, elude kidnappers, fight for their lives against feral cats, and ultimately confront an evil as old as humankind. Friendships are tested, secrets uncovered, love spoken, and destiny revealed.

The kid who’s always been a loner will finally learn the value of friends, family, and loyalty.

If he survives…

Available at Amazon

Chapter One
What Are You?

Alex felt uneasy as he lay in his bed and listened to the wind outside. It had been an okay day at school – he’d only been called “Roller Boy” twice, which was almost a world record. After school, he’d kicked it at Roy’s house and they cranked some Hawthorne Heights tunes and chilled. Even Jane hadn’t bitched at him. So why can’t I sleep? He didn’t know the answer. His eyes returned to the dancing shadows that flitted across his floor from the window. His drapes were closed, but the wind whistled through the trees, and the shadows mesmerized him. The patterns of light and dark pulled on his eyelids, dragging him slowly under. A dream loomed at the edges of his consciousness. One of those dreams. Sleep overcame him, and the dream began….

Ms. Ashley trudged down a flight of stairs from her second floor apartment to street level, carrying several overflowing bags of trash. The traffic sounds were omnipresent, but otherwise the night was calm and clear.

About the Author:

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of eight novels––A Boy and His Dragon, A Matter of Time (Silver Medalist from Reader’s Favorite), and The Knight Cycle, comprised of five books: Children of the Knight (Gold Award Winner in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards), Running Through A Dark Place, There Is No Fear, And The Children Shall Lead, Once Upon A Time In America, and Spinner.

His horror screenplay, “Healer,” was a Semi-Finalist, and his urban fantasy script, “Like A Hero,” was a Finalist in the Shriekfest Film Festival and Screenplay Competition.

He grew up in San Rafael, California, and majored in English and Theatre at Santa Clara University. He went on to earn a master’s in film production from Loyola Marymount University, a teaching credential in English from LMU, and another master's in Special Education from Cal State University Dominguez Hills.

He partnered with two friends as producer, writer, and/or director on several ultra-low-budget horror films, including “Fatal Images,” “Club Dead,” and “Things II,” the reviews of which are much more fun than the actual movies.

He taught high school in Hawthorne, California for twenty-five years, both in general education and to students with learning disabilities, in subjects ranging from English and Strength Training to Algebra, Biology, and Yearbook.

He has also been a volunteer Big Brother to eight different boys with the Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters program and a thirty-year volunteer within the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles.

He has been honored as Probation Volunteer of the Year, YMCA Volunteer of the Year, California Big Brother of the Year, and 2000 National Big Brother of the Year. The “National” honor allowed him and three of his Little Brothers to visit the White House and meet the president in the Oval Office.

He is currently working on a sequel to Spinner.

His goal as a YA author is for teens to experience empowerment and hope; to see themselves in his diverse characters; to read about kids who face real-life challenges; and to see how kids like them can remain decent people in an indecent world.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BradleyWallaceM


Where are you from?
I grew up in the Northern California city of San Rafael and lived in the Bay Area until college.
Tell us your latest news?
Spinner was just awarded a Seal of Approval by Literary Classics, “an organization dedicated to furthering excellence in literature which appeals to youth, while also encouraging positive values in the impressionable minds of future generations.”
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always written and told stories from as far back as I could remember. I was never very good at poetry, but loved writing little horror or fantasy stories as a child growing up.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I consider myself a writer because I have books in print. Children and the Knight and Spinner were both contracted by publishers, and I think having a publisher agree to release your work makes you a writer.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I wanted to tell a realistic fantasy story set in my hometown in the 1970s and that idea became my first book, A Boy and His Dragon.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I’ve always loved movies and have a background in filmmaking. I visualize scenes in my head before I ever write anything down. I’ll even “see” dialogue scenes and “hear” the characters interacting in ways I’d likely not think of if I tried to just sit and write from scratch. So when I do sit down to the keyboard, I describe scenes as I saw them in my head, almost like a movie.

I imagine “camera angles” that will cover everything a reader might want to “see” in a given scene, and then try to fit every element together. I also sometimes have multiple POVs within the same scene, though I try to make these as seamless as possible. Again, that is something of a movie technique. A director will “cut” to different actors within any given scene, and I do that with my often-extensive casts of characters. I see my role as screenwriter and director when I create a novel. And like any good director, I allow my “cast” to improvise. I’ve had characters say and do things I never thought of, simply because I allowed them to play out their scenes in my head numerous times before I typed those scenes into the computer.

How did you come up with the title?
Originally, the book had a different title. But as Alex began describing his unusual ability as “spinning,” the title Spinner became a no-brainer.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I taught high school for twenty-five years, in both general ed and special ed. Where I worked my students were almost all non-Caucasian. And yet, in the books and stories we would read in class, most of the characters were Caucasian, and none of them had disabilities unless the disability existed so readers could “feel sorry” for the character. With this novel, Spinner, I chose to feature multi-racial teen heroes who have disabilities, and are just as important and brave and scared and human as the non-disabled teen heroes of most YA lit. I want readers to understand that these kids aren’t weird or stupid – they love, they laugh, they form intense friendships, they stand by their friends in times of need – and they do all these things without many of the commonplace abilities we deem of such importance, like being able to read or write well. As Alex says about one of his friends, “He’s my friend and that’s more important than being smart.” That’s my message.

How much of the book is realistic?
Other than the supernatural elements, everything is grounded in the real world. The kids and their disabilities are all based on kids I’ve worked with over the years. The bullying of special education kids and the marginalizing of them by society is, sadly, all too real.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The story is set at the high school where I worked for many years, though I gave it a fictional name. And, as noted above, the disabilities and how they play out are real. The kids are composites of real students I had in my classes, and I even gave them the real first names of kids I knew.
What books have most influenced your life most?
That’s hard to say. I loved The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn when I read it in high school, and I also loved Shakespeare’s plays. As a kid, The Outsiders was a seminal book, as was Bless the Beasts and Children. One of my all time favorites, and a masterpiece of plotting is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I can’t say I have one, but I suppose for horror I’d have to look to Stephen King. He often overwrites his stuff, and I’ve tried not to do that. But when he’s spot on with his storytelling, he’s amazing.
What book are you reading now?
I just finished Finder’s Keepers, by Stephen King, and I’m now reading a non-fiction work called The Game Believes In You, about how video games should be incorporated into school curriculum because they engage and teach kids in ways books and teachers cannot.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Not really. I read an impressive debut book by a young man named J.R. Lenk and would definitely read more of his work if he’d ever get around to publishing something else. LOL
What are your current projects?
I’m outlining the two sequels to Spinner that would carry the overall story arc to its conclusion, and experimenting with a standalone sequel to my Children of the Knight series.

What would you like my readers to know?
If you like horror stories that emphasize characters, as much or more than plot, you should love Spinner. The characters are quirky, endearing, heartbreakingly real and memorable. Oh, and there’s also tons of plot and mysteries that makes Spinner a fun and engaging read. Definitely not your average horror novel.

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