In addition to being a writer, Cheryl is a retired high school English teacher. Still passionate about working with kids, she conducts writing workshops for kids in the elementary and middle schools. The kids outline their own medieval stories complete with knights, dragons, magicians, and usually princesses.
Cheryl loves to travel to college football games, to Las Vegas, to visit family, and to see new places. She and her husband recently spent two weeks visiting Egypt where they traveled by local train from one end of Egypt to the other.
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/cherylcarpinello
My main website Beyond Today Educator contains information on both Guinevere and The King’s Ransom. The events section is a picture gallery of the Medieval writing workshops I do with the Colorado Girl Scouts.
On my blog Carpinello’s Writing Pages, I review Children/MG/Tween/YA books, conduct interviews with authors, and post ideas to get kids involved in reading and writing.
Thank you for joining us today, Cheryl. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?
I’m an avid reader when I get the chance. Some of my favorite authors include the writing duo Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child since I first discovered The Relic way back when. I love JRR Tolkien and have read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings several times. Rick Riordan and Joseph Delaney are two of my favorite MG authors. I enjoy working with kids and love doing the Medieval Writing Workshops.
When did you first get bit by the writing bug?
I remember writing a poem for my 8th grade English class. Unfortunately, my teacher thought that I had copied it from some place and wouldn’t give me credit for it. I didn’t write again until I was in my mid-twenties. I finished three projects before I ever let anyone read my work.
Why did you decide to write stories for MG/YA?
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, 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.
Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?
I wouldn’t say it was harder because I don’t think any age group is easier to write for than another. However, writing for young readers, as any age audience, means that you have to know your readers. With most writers being adults, writing for younger readers could be difficult if an author doesn’t interact with kids, read books they are passionate about, and understand the many facets of growing up today.
What is your favorite part of writing for young people?
My favorite part of writing for young people is writing the action/adventure books that I loved growing up. In fact, I probably haven’t grown up that much. I’m still dazzled by ancient cultures, good v.s. evil, and stories that have the protagonist(s) reaching deep inside themself to meet challenges.
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.
What inspired you to write it?
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 and scholarly accounts like Tyler Tichelaar’s 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 and that it is still possible for mankind to live in peace. 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 why I chose Arthurian Legend.
Where can readers purchase a copy?
The King’s Ransom (Young Knights of the Round Table) is available at several sites:
Muse It Up Publishing (An 18-page study guide is available for free on Muse’s web site.): https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=322&category_id=10&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co,uk/dp/B0086MEW76
What is up next for you?
My current work-in-progress takes my readers out of Medieval England and back to Ancient Egypt. Sons of the Sphinx is a mystery/adventure for tweens/YA and introduces readers to a different type of quest.
Future projects include a sequel to Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend. I’ve had several readers ask me what becomes of Guinevere’s friend Cedwyn, so I’m working on a storyline there. And, somewhere soon, I’m going to do another Young Knights of the Round Table. I haven’t decided yet whether to continue with the same characters, or to give a new group of young people a chance at joining the Round Table.
Do you have anything else to add?
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.