Though he tried to keep track of the turns Gavin made, Philip became lost as they went
down a set of stairs to the right and then took another staircase up and turned left. They seemed to be walking in circles.
Gavin stopped in front of a tapestry whose bright colors had long ago faded. Still visible,
however, was the scene depicting a royal stag. Philip recognized the stag, its proud head held high, its regal stance, and its color...white.
Even he had heard of the white stag. The tales told of kings whose hunts for the animal had destroyed their kingdoms. It was said only the one true king of all Britain would succeed in capturing the white stag. And, if the king released the stag, his kingdom would stand forever, his descendants ruling until none were left. There was talk among the villagers that King Arthur had done just that, and he was the true king of all Britain.
Gavin’s hand on his arm pulled Philip back from his musings. Gavin raised a corner of the tapestry and disappeared behind it. Philip followed, trembling as he touched the cloth of legend.
“Won’t you be missed?” Bryan asked. “You won’t be back before dark.”
Gavin shook his head. “Not tomorrow. The king still has a castle to run, my brothers will be out with the knights, and my mother will be busy with the funeral for Aldred.”
The look of concern in his friends’ faces forced him to go on. “I’ll be all right,” he said,
trying to reassure them. “We swore the Knight’s Oath to save the Wild Man. We have no choice. I have no choice. This is my test to see if I can be a true prince of Pembroke.” He paused and then added softly, “I have to do this.”
“We know,” Philip said.
“Be careful. Don’t get caught tomorrow,” Bryan warned.
They shook hands, and Gavin watched his friends go their separate ways. Once alone, doubt edged into his thoughts. The memories of his nightmares made him tremble. He shook off the fear and then stood and stared at the castle, afraid he might not see it again.
“I wonder if this is how a knight feels on the eve of battle?” he said. “You can do this,
Gavin,” he continued. “You are a Pembroke Prince, and the Wild Man’s life hangs on your courage.”
1. Do all the stories you write have a history feel?
Yes, they do. I’m a lover of the ancient and medieval worlds. This came from my college classes and then teaching the literature of these worlds for 25 years.
2. How is Young Knights of the Round Table: The King’s Ransom different from or similar to your other stories?
Young Knights differs only in the setting from my ancient Egypt stories. All my books for middle grade and YA readers have protagonists who—in the course of looking for who they are—take readers on an adventure that at times can be dangerous and even life threatening.
3. How is Young Knights of the Round Table: The King’s Ransom inspired by King Arthur?
Young Knights takes the concepts—loyalty, friendship, courage, honor, and justice—at the heart of Arthurian legend and allows readers to explore those ideas in themselves just as the characters do.
4. How are the three main characters alike?
All of them—Gavin, Philip, and Bryan—have dreams for their futures, and are afraid that they may not be able to realize those dreams. They share many of the traits found today’s pre-teens and teenagers: they are fiercely loyal to each other and The Wild Man; they are reckless in that their decisions are not fully thought out; and they desperately want to belong to their world in some way. They have all found that friendship with The Wild Man fills up a hole in their lives.
5. How are they different?
Each of them approaches life from very diverse backgrounds. Gavin is a prince; Philip is an orphan; and Bryan is learning to be a blacksmith so that he can help support his family and himself. This colors how they look at their life. Gavin knows what is expected of him, but fears that he will fall short of his family’s expectations. Philip has lost everything and is trying to survive day-to-day. Bryan harbors a secret hope for his future that he fears will never happen because he doesn’t have the means to make that happen.
6. How did you develop the world?
The world of Arthurian Legend was already there—the castles, the knights, the honor code, the lifestyle—just waiting for my story to drop in with its adventures and characters.
7. How is this fantasy, magic story different from others?
I’ve built unique relationships between my three characters that would not be found in the Medieval Ages. That a prince, an orphan, and an apprentice would form such a strong bond of friendship would have been prevented because of the social structure of that time period in England. However, for today’s teens, I don’t believe this would be the case even in England, which still holds onto the old ways in many instances.
8. Would you please tell us a bit about what you have planned for Book II?
Wow, that is tough because I haven’t thought it all the way through yet. Here’s what I’m contemplating: our three main characters will be approached to fulfill a promise that difficult to complete. And one of the characters—I can’t tell you which one—will find that the life awaiting is so very different from what was first thought. That’s cryptic, isn’t? Can’t be more specific without giving away a major secret from The King’s Ransom.
9. What was the hardest part of writing Young Knights of the Round Table: The King’s Ransom?
For me, the hardest part of any of my stories is getting the story in my head down on paper the way I want. In the case of The King’s Ransom, I had the story done, and then realized that I had a major problem with one of the main characters. I had to go back in and completely rewrite every section that character appeared in!
10. What do you hope readers take away from Young Knights of the Round Table: The King’s Ransom?
For my Middle Grade readers—and adults who read this—there are two things: How important it is to work together to accomplish the most difficult of tasks; and how important it is to be yourself and trust in who you are, even if that differs from who you thought you were.