Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cheryl Capinello, award-winning author of Young Knights of the Round Table: The King's Ransom

Author Bio:
I am a twice-retired high school English teacher. I’m afraid I’m one of those people who do not do retirement well. I’ve never lost my passion for working with kids. I regularly conduct Medieval Writing Workshops for local elementary/middle schools and for the Colorado Girl Scouts where we explore writing and reading, and it is fulfilling to see young students excited about writing and reading. The kids enjoy writing their own medieval stories complete with dragons, wizards, unicorns, and knights!

We love to travel, and so my other job is with a major airline. Our favorite city to visit is Las Vegas, Nevada. In the fall, we like to travel to college football games. My favorite trip was a two week visit to Egypt that included traveling by local train from one end of Egypt to the other.

Title: Young Knights of the Round Table: The King’s Ransom
Author: Cheryl Carpinello
ISBN: 9781771270564
Page count: 117
Genre: Children’s Arthurian Legend
Price: $3.50 ebook $10.95 pp

Tell us about your book:
My second Arthurian tale thrusts readers into the world of the Knights of the Round Table. In Young Knights of the Round Table: The King’s Ransom, the Young Knights are three kids who have become friends via their friendship with a beggar/vagabond called the Wild Man. Without the Wild Man, it is likely that they would not have met and become friends because they are from very different backgrounds. Eleven-year-old Gavin is the youngest prince of Pembroke Castle in southern Wales. Fifteen-year-old Bryan has been sent to Pembroke by his parents to learn to be a blacksmith. Thirteen-year-old Philip is an orphan who wandered into Pembroke village and lives and works at the church. They are really just three lonely kids who find friendship with the Wild Man and each other.

When someone breaks into the king’s (Gavin’s father) treasury in Pembroke Castle, not only is the medallion known as The King’s Ransom stolen, but Aldred, the king’s advisor is murdered. Being a beggar/vagabond, the Wild Man is captured and charged with the crime. It doesn’t help that a bloody knife is found with his belongings. Gavin, Bryan and Philip are determined to prove that the Wild Man is innocent. In order to do this, they embark upon a quest where each is tested and must conquer their fears or face humiliation and/or even death.

How long did it take to write the book?
Young Knights took just over three years. I actually had the entire story finished when I realized that I had made a major error with one of my characters. I had to go back over the whole story and make changes to that character in every scene. In July 2011, MuseItUp Publishing accepted Young Knights, and it debuted as an E-book May 25, 2012. The paperback will release in April 2013.

What inspired you to write the book?
In talking with kids and from my own reading, I discovered that the Hero’s Journey is a huge attraction for everyone. Since I had already experienced first hand the attraction the Arthurian Legend held for students, I set out to write a story that would couple that with a hero’s journey. After all, heroes abound in the legend.
However, I’m also a romantic, and it’s that side of the legend that appeals to me. I like the ideas surrounding the legend like might is not right; survival depends on working together, and how today as in Arthur’s time, hope still lives. Underneath it all, I believe this is what draws young and old to the legend. What the legend says to kids without them realizing it is that there is a right way and a wrong way to live. This is done with the stories of the knights with their quests, their jousts, their rescuing of the damsels, and their fighting for the underdog. These stories present young readers with vivid accounts of honor, loyalty, and friendship. This is what I tried to focus on in The King’s Ransom.

Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?
From teaching Arthurian Legend in my classroom, I had little research to do. With The King’s Ransom, I wanted to go deeper into Medieval Wales, so I started some preliminary exploration into that time period. As with all my books, I outlined the entire book once I had a firm idea of what I wanted to do. Then because of the time limitation in the book, I had to do a complex timeline for each character and align that with each of the other characters.

What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
Young Knights of the Round Table: The King’s Ransom deals with the cornerstones of the Knights: Honor, Loyalty, and Friendship. Young people need role models in their lives that show them how to act and live. I believe that underneath the exciting story of The King’s Ransom, what readers will take away it the importance of Honor, Loyalty, and Friendship in their lives.

Excerpt from book:
Chapter One: Gavin

Gavin bounded down the keep steps, eager to discover the cause of the cacophony echoing through the tower. The snorting and whinnying of horses competed with the voices of knights calling to each other across the courtyard. He stuffed his green tunic into his black breeches as he ran. In too much of a hurry to comb his hair, Gavin tried to smooth the brown cowlick with his fingers.

As the youngest prince of Pembroke Castle, Gavin dutifully attended his daily lessons. As a page, he was learning to handle a sword in battle and take care of the weapons, equipment, and horses of the knights. Soon to be a squire, he worried about how he would act in battle. Well, not exactly in battle. Squires tended the knights’ horses and guarded the supplies while they fought. The unspoken rule of warfare stated that squires couldn’t be put in danger. However, others in the castle had talked about the times the enemy had sent warriors behind the fighting to attack the supply line. Squires who hadn’t run away had been injured or killed.

Gavin worried about disgracing his family and the crown, worried that he would be scared enough to run or worse, get injured or killed.

The simple truth was, he was afraid.

Burying those thoughts, Gavin burst into the bailey courtyard amassed with horses and knights milling about. Dust swirled, choking the air, causing him to cough and sneeze. He recognized his older brother Robert across the chaotic courtyard and raised his hand in salute.

Robert led his black gelding over and handed Gavin the reins. “Hi, Gav.” Robert tousled Gavin’s hair.

“What’s happening? Where are you going?”

“Someone broke into the throne room last night and stole the King’s Ransom...”

Gavin gasped. The medallion was made of gold and embedded with emeralds so dark the jewels looked black except in the sunlight. Then the deep green sparkled lighter and reminded him of the first blades of grass pushing up through the dark earth in the spring. The tremendous weight of the medallion required him to use both hands when holding it.

Stories passed down said that a traitor over the channel had used it to force a king to ransom his kingdom. To be in possession of it meant to be in possession of power. Many men wanted that power. Gavin’s grandfather’s grandfather had found it as a young man during the siege of a French castle. Though only seventeen, that prince had recognized its importance and had risked his life to bring it home. To protect his find, he’d spent the night in a storeroom listening to the screams of the defeated forces and the drunken laughter of the victors. He’d presented it to his father, and it had been in the possession of the King of Pembroke Castle ever since.

“...and killed one of our men,” Robert finished, breaking into his thoughts.



An image of the thin, wiry man appeared in Gavin’s mind. It wasn’t pleasant. Aldred had
managed the estate and castle’s daily needs and also watched over the treasury. That meant that he frequented the throne room. Invariably he was with the king when Gavin needed to talk to his father. It bothered him that Aldred shared the private conversations he had with his father,
always made him feel unimportant. But his father would be upset at his death.

“As soon as Father gets here, we’re going hunting. Man-hunting.”

“Might I go along as your squire?” Gavin asked.

Robert seemed to see the hesitation Gavin knew was etched on his face. “Not this time, Gav.
You’ll get your chance to join us soon enough. And Gavin...” Robert paused. His body stiffened as he spotted the king making his way through the crowd on his black stallion. “You’ll do well.” He mounted his horse and held out a hand.

Gavin handed him the reins and watched as Robert joined their father, King Wallace.

“You know your father’s rule,” a soft voice behind Gavin said.

Gavin glanced up at the tall, slender figure now standing beside him. Most days, Queen Katherine didn’t look old enough to be his mother. But today, the sadness of Aldred’s death had left its mark. He had learned that events that affected his father had the same effect on his mother. Her green eyes, which usually sparkled with laughter, held traces of tears. A frown replaced her usual bright smile as she watched her husband and two oldest sons prepare to leave. Gavin was startled to see the grey streaks running through her brown hair. He hadn’t noticed
that she was getting older.

“You’ll be twelve in a few days. Then you’ll be made Robert’s squire. It’s tradition, and your father is firm on tradition. You must wait until then.” She put her arm around Gavin and squeezed his shoulders.

Gavin nodded. Together they watched through the dust as the troop of knights, with the king at their head, rode through the gate, out across the moat, and into the forest. As much as he longed to be with them, he couldn’t forget his fears.

Where can we go to buy your book?

Any other links or info you'd like to share?
My writing blog where I interview children’s/MG/YA authors and occasionally review books is Carpinello’s Writing Pages
My home web site is Beyond Today Educator ( Be warned, I need to update it.