28 October 2012

Guest Blog: Cheryl Carpinello

This week, we’re welcoming author Cheryl Carpinello whose YA title THE KING'S RANSOM (YOUNG KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE)  won the 2012 Silver Award for YA Fiction from the Children's Literary ClassicsCheryl is here to talk about the novel and offer an ebook copy to a lucky winner. Here's the blurb:
In medieval Wales, eleven-year-old Prince Gavin, thirteen-year-old orphan Philip, and fifteen-year-old blacksmith's apprentice Bryan are brought together in friendship by one they call the Wild Man. When an advisor to the king is killed and a jewelled medallion is stolen from the king’s treasury, the Wild Man is accused of the theft and murder.

Filled with disbelief at the arrest of the Wild Man, the three friends embark upon a knight’s quest to save their friend’s life. To succeed, the three must confront their fears and insecurities, and one of them will have to disclose the biggest secret of all.

Join Gavin, Philip, and Bryan on their quest and share the adventures that await them in the land of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. 

**Q&A with Cheryl Carpinello**

Tell us what made you decide to write books about the Arthurian legend?
I’ve always been fascinated by King Arthur. I’ve probably read just about every fiction story written over the last 15-20 years. One of my favorites is Deepak Chopra’s The Return of Merlin. I’ve also ventured to nonfiction or scholarly accounts like your King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition. However, I’m more of a romantic, and it’s that side of the legend that appeals to me. I like the ideas that surround the legend like might is not right; how when seen from the air, there are no lines or boundaries on Earth—we are all here together, and we need to learn how to get along; and how 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 readers with vivid accounts of honor, loyalty, and friendship. This is why I chose Arthurian Legend.

Who are your books for?
I have found that Arthurian legend is for all ages, but my main focus is on young readers (ages  8-15). I typically write shorter books for reluctant readers. These reluctant readers are kids who are able to read, but prefer to do other activities. If I can reach them early in their schooling, it’s just possible I might hook them into exploring other books. I’ve yet to find a student in the younger grades who isn’t excited about the medieval time period. Reluctant readers, my nephew Joe is one, will usually balk at long, fat books, so I shorten mine. I usually add simple illustrations to break up the text, but The King’s Ransom in Ebook form does not have these. The print version of The King’s Ransom will have the illustrations.

How has being a teacher influenced your writing?
I’ve written several books over the years. I’ve done an adult romance, a YA romance/bildungsroman, and several stories suitable for picture books. I just never seemed to find a genre I was passionate about writing. Then I started teaching The Once and Future King. My students loved the story and the whole medieval world. After writing Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend, I started doing medieval writing workshops in the elementary schools and found every classroom full of kids crazy about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and the medieval time period. I have to say that being in the classroom and working with the younger kids has been my entire motivation for writing my books.

One of the many reasons I’m excited about The King’s Ransom is that my publisher MuseItUp had me do a separate 18-page Teacher Guide that is available as a free PDF download when readers purchase The King’s Ransom from their bookstore.  I also have a copy that I can send to readers for free and hand out in classrooms and at workshops. The guide carries that great castle cover and is loaded with resources and materials for teachers and home schooled students. Included are a synopsis, information on the Arthurian Legend and the medieval time period, castle vocabulary, and a word find puzzle. Teachers have suggestions for discussions, projects, and writing exercises as well as additional medieval references specifically geared for young readers. I also put together a complete set of comprehension questions/answers for all eighteen chapters.

Tell us about your other writings.
My first Arthurian legend book Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend introduces young readers to the timeless King Arthur Legend and Guinevere the girl as she struggles with growing up and fulfilling her destiny. I wanted to give young readers an understanding of the girl Guinevere, how she is like them today. Everyone has to grow up; everyone has unpleasant choices to make; and regardless of when we are born or how old we are, we don't always get our way. And when that happens, we have to accept it and move on.

King Arthur’s Story is a short story that was not published in Guinevere.

Behind the Scenes of The King’s Ransom lets readers meet the characters in The King’s Ransom, go on a virtual tour of the actual Welsh settings and sample Welsh food and drink, discover the secrets of the author, and other goodies.

What are your plans for future books?
My current work-in-progress takes my readers out of Medieval England and back to Ancient Egypt. It will be a Middle Grade/YA mystery and will introduce readers to a famous boy pharaoh. I’m also working on a sequel to Guinevere. I’ve had several readers ask me what becomes of Guinevere’s friend Cedwyn, so I’m exploring a storyline there. And, somewhere soon, I’m going to do a Young Knights series around the current characters and other young knight characters. Enough to keep me busy for a few years!

Cheryl Carpinello is the author of award-winning "Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend" and the CLC Silver Award Recipient & Recommended Read The King's Ransom (Young Knights of the Round Table) from MuseItUp Publishing

Read The King's Ransom (Young Knights of the Round Table) at: