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Superpowers Can Be Fun

Michael J Bowler Author Interview

Like A Hero follows a masked crime fighter who finds reality isn’t like the comic books and he’s forced to straddle a moral and legal line. What were some sources that informed the development of this novel?

I grew up reading, and still read, comic books, but I’ve also learned the harsh realities of life for so many through my work with incarcerated children and as a public high school teacher, and I decided to incorporate that reality into my book. I do enjoy light-hearted “superhero” books, but I thought it was time for a story that explored the difficulties that being a masked crimefighter might entail since so much crime stems from human degradation and the circumstances of one’s upbringing. I’ve always believed that the spirit of the law is more often than not more important than the letter of the law, hence the moral vs legal dilemma faced by my main character.

What were some things you wanted to do differently from other superhero novels in your book?

I’ve always wondered if a real-life Batman could exist, but not someone who has unlimited wealth; just an average person with certain talents and abilities and the desire to improve his community. For this reason, I shied away from giving my main character any super powers, which makes my story different from all or almost all of the superhero novels out there. Having superpowers can be fun in and of themselves, but what my character gets to take home from his experiences is simply the knowledge that he saved a life or made someone’s life a bit better. But for every one of those successes, there are the times he could not make the difference he hoped. Thus, my novel has darker moments than most superhero books, but ultimately I think it leaves the reader with a sense of hope that we all can make a difference if we choose to.

What were some moral issues you felt were important to address in this book?

Invictus, my hero character, has numerous encounters with homeless people. I don’t believe that homeless people should be left on the street in a dysfunctional state because most of them need residential treatment centers before they need housing and jobs, but the fact that restaurants must throw out left over food (by law) rather than give it to people in need has always bothered me. I believe it’s immoral to waste anything that can be used by others. There’s also a moral component in shelters for runaway or homeless teens that turn someone away because of legal regulations. To me, the needs of the human being are more important than regulations set out by bureaucrats. Invictus also faces moral challenges with two of the kids he meets – Franky, the ten-year-old meth addict (whose mother is responsible for his addiction), and Joe, the African-American teen who had to leave home because his parents would not accept him as gay and was then forced to live on the streets. What’s to be done for these children? Social services might take them, but if the boys don’t want to go, should Invictus force them or trick them into the system? These and other moral gray areas are a large aspect of those people in society who are broken, and the answers are seldom simple. My hope is that readers will consider these and other issues in their own communities and perhaps might even come up with viable solutions of their own.

Do you have future plans to write more books with these characters?

I ended the book, not on a cliffhanger, but with doors wide open for further adventures. I love these characters and all of them changed or grew as a result of the first book, so I definitely want to move forward with these changed characters and their experiences as volunteer crime fighters. As I write this, I’m plotting out the second book, so hopefully, one day soon, readers can enjoy more of my characters and their adventures.

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Courage can be costly. Orphaned brothers Vincent and Dennis Villanueva learn the truth of those words when they create a masked crime fighter and turn him loose on Los Angeles. The brainchild of fourteen-year-old Dennis and embodied in twenty-one-year-old Vincent, “Invictus” hits the streets to jumpstart apathetic Angelenos into taking a more active role in their city.

But reality isn’t a comic book. Vincent finds poverty, homelessness, drug addiction, abuse, and cast-off children. Labeled a vigilante and criminal, the shy grad student with formidable martial arts talent and abysmal people skills soon doubts his ability to make an impact.

Forced to straddle an ambiguous line between moral and legal, he becomes disheartened and secretive, hiding the truth of what he’s doing from Dennis and driving a wedge between them. Feeling neglected, Dennis infiltrates a dangerous drug ring to show Vincent he can be just as heroic, not knowing that the woman in charge is weaving an insidious plot against Invictus as part of her citywide scheme of vengeance. In a race against time, Vincent must regain Dennis’s trust before the brother he loves is lost to him forever.

Like A Hero

Like a Hero by Micheal J Bowler is an exciting story that follows the life of a superhero named Invictus, the brainchild of two young brothers who want to make the world a better place. However, only the older brother can wear the suit and fight the bad guys, the other must stay at home and man the police radio. Readers are first introduced to the hero of our story as he saves a group of classmates from a flaming helicopter. As tensions rise between the boys, the youngest brother struggles to resist the siren song of the criminal underworld. 

Offering a fun twist on the genre, Like A Hero incorporates classic superhero staples whilst maintaining a fresh and interesting take. The author draws upon his background working in the juvenile justice system to explore how societal expectations of class, race and sexuality can impact young people’s lives. Invictus himself possess no superpowers, he is simply fueled by the boy’s ambition to remedy the injustices they see happening to the vulnerable people in their community. Though tackling dark themes, it is an uplifting young adult novel about sensitive characters striving to leave the world better than how they found it. 

This action adventure novel would be an exciting read for teenage audiences, especially those who struggle with the themes described. Like a Hero has a lot of heart, exciting action, and a genuine message. It is clear that the author is passionate about the ideas he explores in his work because it is felt in the story.

Pages: 435 | ASIN: B0B9VBLH41

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The Final Battle At The Mountain

Michael J Bowler Author Interview

Spoiler follows a young man who’s plunged into a deadly standoff and must choose between the torture of his loved ones or giving in to Ms. G’s monstrous demands? What were some sources that informed this novels development?

I’ve always been fascinated by choices we make and I believe we don’t ever really know someone (or ourselves, for that matter) until we’re tested in a difficult situation. Alex has always had a desire to heal, not hurt and he’s so empathetic toward the pain of others that he can’t see someone suffering without needing to help, and yet if he helps, in this case, he will hurt countless other people. I like putting characters into challenging moral quandaries to allow readers to ask themselves, “what choice would I make under those circumstances?” I didn’t have any special sources for the situational portion of the book except that it continues what began in books 1 and 2 and I took the premise to its logical conclusion. I felt the moral vacuum that is Ms. G must do monstrous things because that’s who she is, and the young heroes—particularly Alex—would therefore be forced to resist her in any way they could (without stepping over the line into her level of evil.)

This book is very creative. What scene in the book did you have the most fun writing?

My favorite scenes were the personal ones, the character bits that emphasized relationships and family, like the scene in the gym where everyone worked out together and bonded even more than they had previously. I also liked exploring the development of William and Francis and how they explored their innate humanity (despite having been told by Davalos and others they weren’t fully human.) The most challenging scene was the final battle at the mountain. I had to make a list of every character who would be present, what “team” each would be on, and an approximate outline of where each would be as the scenes progressed. Even then, I still forgot about some along the way and had to go back to make sure I showed what he/she was doing.

What challenges did you set for yourself as a writer with this book?

This biggest challenge was to wrap up and pay off all that had been set up in the first two books and do these things in ways that readers would find enjoyable and satisfactory. Series like this that have so many characters and so many threads sometimes stumble in the final book because some of those threads are left unraveled, and that has often frustrated me as a reader, so I hope I have resolved everything to my readers’ gratification.

Do you have plans to write more books in the Healer Chronicles?

I definitely leave the door open for more stories with these characters, especially with the promise Alex, Andy, William, and Francis made to the president that they are available in a national crisis. Of course, William and Francis are already special agents, and I’ve considered a spinoff series focusing on them. Time will tell. For now, I’m giving these characters (who are some of my all-time favorites) a much-needed rest.

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Having barely survived the latest attack on him, Alex feels adrift at the loss of his twin brother, despite everyone’s attempts to console him. Officials from the Pentagon, the Vatican, and even a representative of the Native American Onondaga tribe descend on the Air Force base to mobilize against an imminent assault on humanity.

Despite losing Andy, Alex has a few fleeting moments of happiness, especially as he finds himself falling for Allison, Mr. Shaw’s spunky daughter. But he knows these moments of “normalcy” will be short-lived because Ms. G and her group need his power to fulfill their evil plans.

When on-base treachery leads to attempted assassination and kidnapping, Alex—along with Roy and Allison—is plunged into a deadly standoff with Ms. G that he knows will result in his death and that of his loved ones. Can he allow them to be tortured, or will he give in to her monstrous demands?

Colonel Walker gathers his troops around the location where Alex is held prisoner – the mountain housing a mysterious “gate” into another dimension. Should Alex be forced to open that gate and release the dark entities within, the human race will come to a swift and violent end.

As the final battle approaches, can Alex hold out long enough for rescue to arrive?

The Healer Chronicles conclude.

Spoiler (The Healer Chronicles Book 3)

Fresh off a chaotic battle, Colonel Walker and his band of superhuman kids, created through government-sanctioned experiments, realize that the world is in more danger than they thought. There’s a breach in the barrier separating earth from the dimension housing demons, and dark entities are slowly seeping into our world. Even worse, Ms. G, a strange but powerful woman, is bent on opening the gates between both worlds to let demons into ours. Once again, Alex the healer, Colonel Walker, and the group, with help from the Pentagon, the Vatican, and others, must stop Ms. G before she causes untold darkness to overrun the world and end the human race.

Spoiler, by Michael J. Bowler, is the third book in a gripping series that is brimming with adventure and imaginative science fiction elements. It’s a compelling coming of age story of camaraderie, exploring what is means to be human, and the evils that are lurking on the fringes of the world as we know it.

The book sounds a tad spooky, right? It is, but only when it has to be, otherwise it has an adventurous spirit overall. The author finds a great balance between the dark themes and the refreshing fantasy ones. Frankly, reading Spoiler took me back to the description of Netflix’s Stranger Things which once caught my eye: “hair-raising and heartwarming.”

There are no flowery words or complex descriptions. The writing is simple and evocative as Bowler relies on the strength of his plot and characters to keep you spellbound. It’s been a while since I read a book that had me wondering, “how have I read 100 pages already?” Spoiler reels you in with the promise of chaos, drama, and twists and delivers massively.

The author has a fantastic ability to create gripping tension. He expertly teases several possibilities and leaves a few crumbs of evidence here and there, just enough to heighten your suspicion without giving too much away too soon. I think the book moves along at a good pace. Bowler nicely builds up to the inevitable chaos and uses that buildup to connect readers with the characters before everything devolves into chaos.

Spoiler is a real page-turner and an occasional tear-jerker. If you’re looking for an exciting young adult urban fantasy story with imaginative paranormal elements then you’ll heartily enjoy The Healer Chronicles series.

Pages: 377 | ASIN: B0B2V5J6C4

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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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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 humanity. 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…

Finalist in the 2015 Wishing Shelf Book Awards
Honorable Mention in the 2015 Halloween Book Festival
Runner-Up in the 2015 Southern California Book Festival
Literary Classics Seal of Approval 2015
Bronze Medal in the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Awards
Honorable Mention in the 2015 San Francisco Book Festival
Winner in the 2015 Hollywood Book Festival

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