Tuesday, February 25, 2020

I Know When You’re Going To Die by Michael J. Bowler

I Know When You’re Going To Die

Michael J. Bowler

Genre: YA Suspense/Thriller

Publisher: Michael J. Bowler, Author
Date of Publication: Release date 2/25/2020
ISBN: 978-1-7333290-0-2
Number of pages: 212
Word Count: 81K

Cover Artist: Streetlight Graphics

Book Description:

Leonardo Cantrell is a painfully shy sixteen-year-old who cannot look people in the eye. One night while he’s volunteering at a homeless shelter, an old man forces eye contact and gives Leo the power to see Death.

His best, and only, friend—J.C. Rivera—thinks this new power is cool until Leo accidentally looks into J.C.’s eyes and “sees” his murder, a murder that will occur in less than two weeks. Stunned and shaken, the two boys sift through clues in Leo’s “vision” in a desperate effort to find the killer and stop him before he can strike.

Aided by feisty new-girl-at-school, Laura, the boys uncover evidence suggesting the identity of the murderer. However, their plan to trap the would-be killer goes horribly awry and reveals a truth that could kill them all.

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The door to the
dorm is open and I step in. It looks like a huge barn with a worn hardwood
floor studded with row after row of folding cots. Since it’s dinnertime, all
the cots are empty except one.
An old man with
surprisingly alert eyes lies atop that cot staring at me. Most of the older
people who frequent the shelter have rheumy eyes, always moist and often
clouded, because they’ve struggled for so long on the street, and maybe because
they have alcohol or drug problems.
“Come here,
boy.” His voice is raspy and echoes faintly in the cavernous room.
At first, I
don’t recognize him. True, there are hundreds of homeless on the streets every
day, but I’ve been volunteering on Skid Row since I was fourteen and after
almost three years, like I said, I know most of them. I’m  thinking
that if this guy is a regular, he’s passed under my radar.
And yet…
I have seen him,
I think. Not here at the shelter. Walking to my car…?  Yes!
Several times over these past two or three weekends, I’ve noticed him.  He’s caught my eye because, every time, he’s
stared at me so intently it made  me
shiver. He’d be pretending to rummage through a dumpster, but his eyes would
follow me until I got into my car. I confess his gaze made me uncom- fortable,
but I let it go. I’ve learned to shrug off such creepy feelings because   so many of the people I meet down here have
mental health issues.
I steel myself
and walk between the rows of empty cots—each with its  neat bedroll awaiting an occupant—and stop
before the stranger  with  the scary eyes. Unlike most of the people,
his clothes aren’t especially dirty and he doesn’t smell like someone who’s
been on the streets for a long time. Wisps of gray hair stick out from his head
at haphazard angles and his face has so many wrinkles I don’t think I could
count them if I tried.
I don’t make eye
contact, but that’s because I never do. Not here, not anywhere. People tell me
I’m the definition of “shy” and they’re right.
“You asked to
see me, sir?” I say deferentially, my gaze on his gnarled hands.
He rolls over
onto his back. “I been watching you, boy. Seen you on the streets a lot.”
I freeze. So, I
didn’t imagine it! “Yeah?”
“Yeah.” The
voice sounds like sandpaper scraping along a fence. “Rich boy like you helping
out poor folk like me. What gives?”
I’ve been asked
this question by all my relatives, so I’m ready with my answer. “I think people
like me who are lucky to have a lot should help people who don’t. And I hope
I’m making the world better instead of worse. The kids  I know just party and think about themselves
all the time. I don’t want to be like that.”
A crooked smile
cracks the wrinkled face. “You’re the one, all right.” “The one?”
With effort, he
unclasps his hands with their swollen knuckles and holds his right arm out
toward me. It shakes, like he barely has enough strength to keep it aloft.
“Take my hand, boy.”
Unlike my best
friend J.C., who never touches any of the people when he comes with me to the
shelters, I usually have no worries about contact. But I hesitate this time. I
mean, this guy has been watching me on the streets. But kindness makes me
swallow my anxiety and I clasp his hand. He squeezes gently.
“Look into my
Ordinarily, I’d
just glance into his eyes and then look away. But that com- manding tone
compels me. I raise my eyes and focus on his. They’re brown  and alert and they shimmer beneath the
overhead lights. We  lock gazes, and     I stiffen. Something I can’t quite pin
down swells within me, like a surge of emotion. I suddenly feel… different.
All the tension
drains from his face in an instant. Relaxed, he releases my hand, pulling his
arm back with great deliberation. He rests both hands across his stomach and
gazes up at me with obvious gratitude.
“Thank you, boy.
Now I can die.”
I shudder.
“Wha-what do you mean?”
The man offers a
gentle smile. “I gave you a great gift, boy. Or maybe a curse. Had it so long,
I can’t be sure no more. But I couldn’t die till I passed it on.”
I stand frozen
in place, my heart thumping, my breathing on hold. A gift?
A curse? “Uh,
pass what on, sir?”
He chuckles and
it’s a wheezy sound, like he doesn’t have much air in his lungs. “Just you
calling an old bum like me “sir” proves you be the one.”
I feel different
inside and his words scare me because I know he’s done
something to me.
“I’m just a regular kid, sir. Nothing special.”
That chuckle
erupts again, wheezier this time. “Oh, you’re more than a regular kid. Like you
said, most kids only care about stupid crap like partying. You’ll  use my gift well.” He lapses into a coughing
fit that scares me even  more.
“Want me to get
some help?”
He waves away
the idea with one hand. After a few moments, the hacking ceases. “No need.
It’s  my time.” He suddenly looks really
pasty and gray in   the face. “When you
find someone worthy, boy, pass on the gift to them,” he whispers, his voice
very soft and almost inaudible. He closes his eyes and lies still. “Until then,
make wise choices.”

Then he stops
breathing. Literally, just stops. One second his chest is ris- ing and falling
and then the next, there’s nothing. I want to shake him back to life and ask a
thousand questions, but instead I run from the room to get help.
About the Author:

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author who grew up in Northern California. He majored in English/Theatre at Santa Clara University, earned a master’s in film production from Loyola Marymount University, a teaching credential in English from LMU, and a master's in Special Education from Cal State University Dominguez Hills. Michael taught high school in Hawthorne, California, both in general education and to students with learning disabilities. When Michael is not writing, you can find him volunteering as a youth mentor with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and raising his newly adopted son. He is a passionate advocate for the fair treatment of children and teens in California, and hopes his books can show young people they are not alone in their struggles.


Interview with Michael J. Bowler
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
Some of my characters have hijacked my stories in various ways, but I go along with it because the character knows best. That sounds odd to non-writers, I’m sure, but once a character has established him or herself in my mind and within the story, his/her dialogue flows freely and often actions I had pre-planned change because the character “tells” me a better path.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
I don’t think any book is a “must-read” because all of us are different. I do think readers who like mysteries and thrillers, as well as those who enjoy a supernatural element thrown into the mix, should take to my book with ease. It’s written with the teen reader in mind, so I abstain from extraneous descriptions of non-essentials because teens get bored quickly with excess verbiage. Thus, my book is a fast read and hopefully a fun one.  
Have you written any other books that are not published?
I have an action adventure novel with a social issues undercurrent, a contemporary science fiction mystery, and a middle grade adventure tale all revised and edited and ready to go.
Pen or type writer or computer?
I use a computer nowadays, but I used to write everything in pen first and then type it into the computer because I’d becrevising along the way.
Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?

I strove to make I Know When You’re Going To Die an entertaining read, first and foremost. I don’t believe every book should be an “issue” book, though there is a trend in that direction these days. Having said that, my book does deal with some timely issues like homophobia, bullying, neglectful parents, not to mention shyness and social anxiety, which afflict a large number of people. I’m hopeful my readers will enjoy the mystery and like the characters, but if they also glean a bit more about these social issues within the narrative, that’s icing on the cake for me as an author. 

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  1. Creepy cover! (I have a snake phobia) but the synopsis and excerpt. This sounds like a thrilling read. Thank you for sharing your book and author details. I am looking forward to reading are intriguing

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. (I only deleted my first comment because of spelling errors.) I am new to Michael J. Bowler. Thanks to this blog for the introduction. I will read this book.

  4. Thank you so much for taking time to bring to our attention another great read.   I appreciate it and thank you also for the giveaway.