As a mom of boys, I deplore the lack of good fiction written for boys. My son loves to read, but the bulk of fiction out there is aimed square at girls and like most boys he has his own ideas about what makes a good book. So when I found out my good friend, Michael Spradlin was writing a book about a young Templar knight, I was thrilled. So I asked Michael to drop by and tell all of you about his new book/series, The Youngest Templar.
1) Michael, how exciting to see The Youngest Templar, the first in your new YA series coming out! Congratulations! Tell us all a little bit about the story.
It’s always a thrill for any writer to see their newest book published. It’s a little bit like letting your children loose in the world. You shine them up, give them everything you can to make them succeed and then open the door and let them out into the world. The Youngest Templar: Keeper of the Grail is the first book in a new trilogy. It’s set during the Third Crusade and features a young orphan named Tristan who is raised by monks at a quiet abbey in England. One night, a troop of Knights Templar stops to rest at the abbey and Tristan is offered the chance to join them as a squire. He travels with the Knights to the Holy Land and during a critical battle, as the Templar’s are about to be overrun, is given the Holy Grail and ordered to return with it to England for safe-keeping. On his journey his joined by a war weary young archer on his way home to Sherwood Forest and by a young Muslim girl who is a member of the mysterious warrior cult Al Hashshashin (the Assassins). They team up and along the way have to fend off evil Knights, Saracens, and agents of King Richard the Lionheart.
It’s full of action, adventure, suspense and humor. The kind of book I loved to read when I was a kid.
2) What was the spark that ignited for The Youngest Templar and this series?
I read an article in a magazine about the Grail Cathedral in Roslin, Scotland. Supposedly the Holy Grail is hidden in the castle somewhere, or else the construction of the Cathedral is said to hide clues as to the Grail’s whereabouts. I was fascinated. I started to think: What if the Grail were real and actually hidden here? If so, how did it get there? I started working backward and came up with my characters and story.
3) What do you think are the challenges for writing for the YA market?
I think the challenges are the same as writing for any market. You have to tell a good story that will grab readers and get them to invest their time. I do think one of the special challenges today is getting kids to put down the Ipods, and turn off the computers, and the television and pick up a book. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology and I use all of those things. But kids today have so much more competition for their time than I did growing up.
4) I hear you on the electronics. Those things can be a blessing and a curse. But nothing beats a good story, not even Nintendo! And what makes a good story, IMHO is research, and my favorite: history. Favorite tidbit of research about the Templars you want to share?
Well, I like to call the Templar’s the Hells Angels of the Middle Ages. They are fascinating group and there is enough history to fill thousands of books. I guess what drew me to them is the mystery surrounding their origin. The name Knights Templar comes from the fact that the very first members of the order, were barracked in the Temple of Solomon. They were originally known as the Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ and King Solomon’s Temple. Shortened later to the Knights Templar. When they first occupied the Temple the began to excavate beneath it. And they must have found something very valuable for they suddenly went from being this simple, poor, monastic order of monks to arguably the wealthiest and most powerful group in Christendom. Almost overnight. That is where all the legends and conspiracy theories come from. What did they find beneath the Temple? Was it the Holy Grail? The One True Cross? No one knows, but it must have something that could use to gain power and influence.
5) Hell’s Angels? I love that! Michael, where can my blog readers go to read an excerpt and order copies–for themselves or for the kids in their life?
The Youngest Templar is published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons and is available wherever books are sold, as well as through my website www.michaelspradlin.com or www.theyoungesttemplar.com.
Thanks, Michael! Take a peek inside The Youngest Templar and let me know what you think! Five lucky posters will win a copy of Michael’s earlier book, Spy Goddess. Get your comment in before Monday’s blog posts to be entered to win.
I totally hear you, Elizbeth, on having a tough time finding books to keep young boys interested in reading! It’s become almost a challenge to find things my 12-yo will like. Michael’s series sounds really good! If I don’t win it, I’ll definitely put it on my list of books to check out for my son.
I am one of the lucky-lous who already read The Youngest Templar (and Spy Goddess, so take me right out of the running to win a book — no need here). I will readily admit that I am already biased toward medieval-set reading — I love the setting. But this book I couldn’t put down. I read it in an evening. It was GREAT. Highly recommended.
I love the idea that some one is writting a story
that a boy will enjoy.maybe it will help to get
boys to read more.
Hi Michael, I think I found a book right up my alley for my youngest daughter. She is 11years old and she isnt a typical girl she is more into boy stuff. She loves watching the movies with Knights in them and she is going to be a pro soccer player when she gets older and she loves to read. It is hard to find books for what she likes. She reads alot of books on sports and mystery. I think she will like this one. Im going to the BS anyway so I can just pick it up. She doesnt like girlie girl books as she calls them. I have to laugh. I may even read this book too.
Thanks Michele! I think your daughter will like it. It also a really tough as nails girl character in it. I think she’ll like it.
Thanks for spotlighting Michael Spradlin and his work! It’s great to see that more authors are writing great stories that will appeal to young male readers – and Michael being a Michigander, well, he’s almost a local! It’s practically obligatory for us to have him in the library’s collection, right? ::smirk::
signing off now to “persuade” our YA librarian to purchase THE YOUNGEST TEMPLAR and to check out his backlist ~
Oh I think she will love it. The girl character sounds just like my daughter, tough as nails. Great description.
Thank You to both Elizabeth and Michael for a great chance to check out a great book!!! I am in your debt. I have a 14 year old who doesn’t read much. I on the other hand read all the time and can not seem to relay that love on to her. However, we both read this blog together, and found it wonderful and I answered questions that she had and she seemed very interested, so I think that this new series Micheal is set to be GREAT!!!!!
I’m so glad I popped by here. I can’t wait to share this tidbit with my kids. I’m always on the look out for good books for them to read.