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?
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.