When her parents are condemned to death by Morgan Fay for the crime of reading, Arti Penderhagen becomes a fugitive. Hunted by Mordred, the sadistic police captain who recites poetry to enhance his physical strength, Arti escapes to the Isle of Avalon, a sanctuary for outlaws. There she meets an old librarian named Merl who tells her about the Grail Tome, an ancient book in Morgan Fay's possession that can alter the course of history. Can Arti steal the book in time to save her family?
THE BOOK KNIGHTS is an Arthurian YA fantasy adventure in which knights wield words as weapons, librarians are wizards, and books can change the future.
I have read a lot of remakes of classic novels lately. I love this one! It has King Arthur's characters only with a twist. As Morgan Fey burns books, the magic tombs filled with the history. Once there is one page left, a scribe can write the future. Morgan has an evil plan for the future. Can Artie, Lance, Gwen, Gal, and Merle beat her to it?
I love the futuristic elements as well as the classic elements. Camelot is a used car lot called Camel Lot, Avalon is a river that runs through the town, Lance drives a white charger, Merl has an RV that has a roundtable, Excalibur is the magic pen that will allow Arti to write a better future if she can get to the tomb before Morgan. I love the depth of details in the setting, plot, and characters.
I really hope that the author either applies this unique POV to other classics or continues with these characters
Author Q and A:
Let me just start by saying "Wow!". What you did with the classic King Arthur tale was amazing and I have never read anything like that and I have been reading every chance I get since I was in the 3rd grade.
I’m glad you enjoyed The Book Knights, Felicia, and that you thought it was different than other books you’ve read. I tried to put an original spin on the Arthur legend, and it’s nice to know the effort’s been appreciated.
What inspired this particular story?
I wanted to write a story that, at its core, was about the power of words. We live in a time where pictures and video seem to dominate the social landscape, and I worry that the magic of written stories is gradually being lost. I got thinking that the written word is our Holy Grail, something we need to re-discover to protect ourselves from those who would take that power away from us. A light went off, and this retelling of the King Arthur legend was born.
How does your writing impact your teaching (or teaching impact your writing)?
Teaching has helped me understand young readers in a way that I wouldn’t have known without that experience. My job has changed in recent years, so I don’t get to talk about books with students as much as I used to. Having said that, I’ve learned a couple important things about writing for younger audiences through teaching: you can’t talk down to them, and they want to be challenged by what they read.
Are you planning on continuing the adventures of Arti Penderhagen and friends? If not, can we hope for your touch on any other classics?
I did outline a second book that continues the story of Arti and her friends, but I’m working on another book right now, an adult epic fantasy with a fun narrative twist that has me excited. But I’ll be honest, the book knights keep calling me back, and it’s hard to leave them.
Is there a specific place that writing comes easier or inspires you? Can you describe it?
I’m someone who must have total isolation when I write. I’m always thinking about my story, and I often jot down ideas no matter where I am, but to write I need to be in my study alone and with no distractions. My inspiration comes from all kind of places at all times of the day or night, but my writing time is very controlled.
What is something funny, interesting or unique about you that not many people know? (nothing embarrassing)
I love doing voices, impersonations, and sound effects. Most of my colleagues and friends would be shocked by my performances. My wife is the only one who gets to enjoy/suffer them, but they make her laugh.
Get your copy of The Book Knights available as paperback and e-book
Check out J.G. Mckenney's website and check out the awards he has been nominated for and won. Also see his other book as well as his bio!