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A Dark Ending in Mind

Michael J. Bowler Author Interview

Michael J. Bowler Author Interview

I Know When You’re Going to Die follows young Leo as he grapples with the ability to see people’s death and the need to save his friend. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

The original idea was going to be a short story set in a remote area where a group of teens are camping. They start talking about a series of murders in the city where they live, and one kid says he can look into their eyes and tell them when they’re going to die. Some of them want to know, but others don’t. I had a dark ending in mind, but decided to expand the idea and the story took a vastly different turn.

I enjoyed the unique ability that Leo had and how it was utilized throughout the story. How did this idea start and change as you wrote the story?

When I developed the character of Leo, his inability to look people in the eye was a crucial trait because I didn’t want to bog the story down by having him willy nilly look in everyone’s eyes to find out when they’ll die. Such a gift would, and should, freak most people out, though some would immediately try to profit from it, which is a direction I chose not to go. I wanted Leo to be a reluctant recipient of the “gift” because that reluctance allowed him to grow as a character, from someone who wanted nothing to do with such a power to a hero who will do whatever it takes to change Fate and save his best friend’s life.

The mystery that drove this story was something I found exciting and entertaining. Did you plan it before writing or did it develop organically while writing?

As I developed the story and the characters surrounding Leo, J.C., and Laura, I decided who the would-be murderer would be prior to writing. Knowing the endgame in a mystery is essential to plotting because clues have to be planted, red herrings introduced, etc. The image of the snake jacket has always been with the story. It just entered my mind when I first thought of the short story idea and it seemed so visual that I retained it for the novel. I was tempted to take the plot in other directions during early drafts before I settled on the current story. I’m well aware that Leo’s ability could inspire a different iteration from every writer out there as to how it could be used in a story. It’s like the perfect prompt in a creative writing class and might easily generate better stories than mine. Even my original ending differs from what’s there now. Storytelling is like life itself – it’s all about choices.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I have two completed books for the teen market (one action/adventure mixed with social issues and the other mystery/sci-fi) and one middle grade adventure, all of which I keep tinkering with. All have been edited and revised numerous times, but I have to decide which one might be the easiest to market. Middle grade is tougher than teen lit or YA because reaching the intended demographic without publisher support is almost impossible. Still, I might try wading into those middle grade waters since that’s my son’s current age. We’ll see.

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I Know When You're Going To Die by [Bowler, Michael J.]

Leonardo Cantrell is a painfully shy sixteen-year-old who cannot look people in the eye. One night while he’s volunteering at a homeless shelter, an old man forces eye contact and gives Leo the power to see Death.

His best, and only, friend—J.C. Rivera—thinks this new power is cool until Leo accidentally looks into J.C.’s eyes and “sees” his murder, a murder that will occur in less than two weeks. Stunned and shaken, the two boys sift through clues in Leo’s “vision” in a desperate effort to find the killer and stop him before he can strike.

Aided by feisty new-girl-at-school, Laura, the boys uncover evidence suggesting the identity of the murderer. However, their plan to trap the would-be killer goes horribly awry and reveals a truth that could kill them all.

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I Know When You’re Going To Die

I Know When You're Going To Die by [Bowler, Michael J.]

I Know When You’re Going to Die by Michael J. Bowler is a Young Adult fiction novel about a sixteen-year-old boy named Leonardo Cantrell. While working at a homeless shelter in Los Angeles, Leo meets a man who passes on a gift–or a curse–the ability to look into a person’s eyes and see their Death. He knows when it will occur, but the details of how it will happen are hazy. When Leo sees his friend, J.C.’s murder, he can’t stand by and do nothing. Can Leo and J.C. discover the killer’s identity and prevent J.C.’s death before it’s too late?

I Know When You’re Going to Die was a book I enjoyed reading because of the author’s unique writing style couple with an intriguing plot. The book raises many interesting questions and left me with many interesting fantasies in my own head; can you change the future if you know what’s going to happen? And even if you can change things, should you? What are the consequences of that decision?

I liked the mystery driving this story forward and I had a fun time trying to put the clues together in order to guess who wanted to kill J.C. The story is replete with red herrings and misdirection that left me spinning, I couldn’t figure out how all the pieces fit together until everything was revealed at the end of the book; which was fantastic. The inclusion of the old house with the secret passages was a fun element in the story.

I liked reading about the juxtaposition between Leo, J.C., and Laura’s typical teenage life, going to classes and dealing with bullies at school, and the life-and-death matter of the trio trying to figure out how they’re going to prevent J.C.’s murder.

Although I thought the characters were well developed, and interesting, I had a bit of an issue with some of the reasoning behind the characters’ actions. At times, it didn’t seem logical. For example, why would Leo automatically assume the killer was not after him when he had never looked into his own eyes in the mirror to see his own death?

But this is a mild issue born out of my fascination with the novel. I Know When You’re Going to Die is an enchanting novel that had me hooked right until the end.

Pages: 210 | ASIN: B07Z48BHH4

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