Monday, October 1, 2012

Author Interview: Mike Mullen (Ashen Winter Blog Tour)

Today I welcome Mike Mullen, author of Ashfall and the newest installment, Ashen Winter which will be out mid-October.  If you love post-apocalyptic YA, then this is just the series for you.  I have thoroughly enjoyed both books and my review will post later today so I was very excited to interview Mike.  Enjoy the interview!

Did you dive right into writing Ashen Winter after finishing Ashfall, or did you take a break?

I did a very rough outline for the whole trilogy before the first draft of ASHFALL was even finished. As I worked on ASHFALL, I kept thinking of interesting ideas that wouldn’t fit. So I’d open up the ASHEN WINTER file on my computer, write down the idea, and then go back to working on ASHFALL. When I finished ASHFALL, I already had twenty or thirty pages of notes and ideas for ASHEN WINTER.

ASHFALL sold on a one-book deal. So when the last edits for ASHFALL were finished, I wrote a proposal for ASHEN WINTER–the first three chapters and an outline—and sent it to Tanglewood Press. They agreed to buy it on spec—even before ASHFALL had been released. After I finished my happy dance, I got right to work on ASHEN WINTER.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

I’d love to go back to Northeast Brazil: Fortaleza, Belem, and Recife. I’m using some of the royalty money from ASHFALL to take my wife to Mexico this spring, and we’re getting our passports renewed for that. Maybe if the books keep selling well we’ll go to Brazil next.

What three things do you need in order to write?

My laptop. I’m stumped for the other two. Totally stumped. I was going to say hands, but I think I’d write even if I didn’t have hands. Come to think of it, I could write without my laptop—I’m pretty sure I have a pen lying around somewhere. But I really, really hate to handwrite anything.

Do you have a favorite line in Ashen Winter?

Yes! I put a lot of my own opinions in Rita Mae’s voice—she’s the librarian in Worthington. Here’s one of my favorites:

“He’s a child, Rita Mae,” Kenda yelled. “Without children we don’t have any future.”

“Without freedom,” Rita Mae yelled back, “why would we want a future?”

I totally get the impulse to protect kids. But as a teenager I valued freedom over safety, and even as an adult, I worry that we sometimes draw the line too far on the side of safety. The best, most durable lessons come only when we have the freedom to make mistakes.

Who is your favorite character?

That’s like asking a father which kid is his favorite. Not fair! I like Alex, because he’s based in part on myself as a teenager. I like Darla because she’s based in part on my wife, Margaret. I love Rita Mae, because, well, she’s a librarian and thinks a lot like the adult Mike Mullin. I like Alyssa, because she’s just as tough as Darla but in a totally different way. And I love Ben, because I didn’t think I could write an autistic teen successfully, but most early readers—including two ASD teens and two parents of kids with Asperger’s—tell me I succeeded, so that’s gratifying.

Thanks Mike!

Thanks for joining the blog tour, Crystal!

Author Bio
Mike Mullin’s first job was scraping the gum off the undersides of desks at his high school. From there, things went steadily downhill. He almost got fired by the owner of a bookstore due to his poor taste in earrings. He worked at a place that showed slides of poopy diapers during lunch (it did cut down on the cafeteria budget). The hazing process at the next company included eating live termites raised by the resident entomologist, so that didn’t last long either. For a while Mike juggled bottles at a wine shop, sometimes to disastrous effect. Oh, and then there was the job where swarms of wasps occasionally tried to chase him off ladders. So he’s really glad this writing thing seems to be working out.
Mike holds a black belt in Songahm Taekwondo. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and her three cats. Ashen Winter is his second novel.  His debut, Ashfall, was named one of the top five young adult novels of 2011 by National Public Radio, a Best Teen Book of 2011 by Kirkus Reviews, and a New Voices selection by the American Booksellers Association.

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It's been over six months since the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano. Alex and Darla have been staying with Alex's relatives, trying to cope with the new reality of the primitive world so vividly portrayed in Ashfall, the first book in this trilogy. It's also been six months of waiting for Alex's parents to return from Iowa. Alex and Darla decide they can wait no longer and must retrace their journey into Iowa to find and bring back Alex's parents to the tenuous safety of Illinois. But the landscape they cross is even more perilous than before, with life-and-death battles for food and power between the remaining communities. When the unthinkable happens, Alex must find new reserves of strength and determination to survive.

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Natalie Aguirre said...

Great interview. That's a great idea to rough outline the whole series. Though it sounds hard to know it all well enough to do. So excited for Mike.

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ParaJunkee said...

I want to read the next book so badly. I loved Ashfall so much.This was a great interview.

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