I met Mike Mullin at ALA when it was in Anaheim and was able to pick up Ashfall and an arc of Ashen Winter. And, of course I was dying to get my greedy hands on Sunrise. So when I saw the tweet about the blog tour, I happily signed up.
I was able to get an interview with Mike! But, before we get to that, let’s see the book, shall we?
The Yellowstone supervolcano nearly wiped out the human race. Now, almost a year after the eruption, the survivors seem determined to finish the job. Communities wage war on each other, gangs of cannibals roam the countryside, and what little government survived the eruption has collapsed completely. The ham radio has gone silent. Sickness, cold, and starvation are the survivors’ constant companions.
When it becomes apparent that their home is no longer safe and adults are not facing the stark realities, Alex and Darla must create a community that can survive the ongoing disaster, an almost impossible task requiring even more guts and more smarts than ever — and unthinkable sacrifice. If they fail . . . they, their loved ones, and the few remaining survivors will perish.
This epic finale has the heart of Ashfall, the action of Ashen Winter, and a depth all its own, examining questions of responsibility and bravery, civilization and society, illuminated by the story of an unshakable love that transcends a post-apocalyptic world and even life itself.
Sounds good, right?
1. Where did the idea for the series come from?
The idea for Ashfall started with another book—Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. I found it on a display at Central Library in downtown Indianapolis. Dozens of novel ideas lurk within its pages, but the one that stuck with me was the idea of a supervolcano eruption at Yellowstone. A few weeks after I read it, I woke at 3:30 am with a scene occupying my head so completely I was afraid it would start spilling out my nostrils and ears. I typed 5,500 words, finishing just before dawn. Then I put the project away and let it gestate for eight months. When I returned to it after researching volcanoes and volcanic ash, I realized the inspired scene I wrote in the middle of the night wouldn’t work, and ultimately that whole section had to be scrapped. The only word that remains from that draft? Ashfall.
2. I could give you a list of reasons why I love Alex and Darla. Why do you love them and why should we root for them?
They’re both ordinary people, not that different from you and me. Externally, Alex is based on a fifteen-year-old third degree black belt, Ben Alexander, who I met when I started taking taekwondo lessons in preparation for writing Ashfall. Even though he is half a foot shorter than I am and maybe 80 lbs. lighter, he can kick my butt without breathing hard. Internally, Alex is based on me as a teenager. He struggles with impulse control, trying to do the right thing, and trying to master an inner anger that often gets him into trouble.
Darla is based on my wife, Margaret. She’s just as tough, loyal, and determined as Darla. But Margaret can’t fix our cars, darn it. It would be great if she could.
3. Describe the series in 5 words.
Alex finds love amid apocalypse.
4. You get the call/email/letter that says you’re being published for the first time. What happens next?
I scream like a five-year-old One Direction fan hopped up on pink cotton candy. Then I try to find an agent to handle the negotiations—and fail. But that’s another story.
5. You can only read one book for the rest of your life. What is it?
The Bible. I’m not particularly religious, but The Bible is full of amazing stories and beautiful language. I’ve read it three times now, and I can say confidently that I know it better than the Jehovah’s Witnesses who ring my doorbell about once a month. Plus it’s more than three-quarters of a million words—a big bonus if I only get one book to read.
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
Huge thanks to Mike for taking the time to do the interview! Make sure you’re following him on Twitter, liking his Facebook page, checking out his website and adding all of his books to your GoodReads shelves.
And make sure to click here to check out the rest of the stops for the blog tour.
Now. Haven’t had a chance to pick up Mike’s series? Well, Savy at Books with Bite is going to have a giveaway for all three books! They will be coming from The Book Despository and is open to everyone, but make sure they ship to your country.