First off I'd like to thank Mike for this interview. I love finding out about the genius behind the book. And in Mike's case- the humor. I had to edit some of his comments because they were way too funny, and my blog is open to kids. LOL If you missed my review of Ashfall scroll down to the previous blog post.
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 hoping this writing thing works out.
Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park don’t realize that the boiling hot springs and spraying geysers are caused by an underlying supervolcano. It has erupted three times in the last 2.1 million years, and it will erupt again, changing the Earth forever.
Now some questions...
1. What inspired you to write Ashfall?
I saw a display with Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything and thought, no way is that book big enough to include nearly everything. So I checked it out, determined to discover what hubris had led Bryson’s publisher to choose that title. Instead, I learned about the Yellowstone supervolcano. And I was hooked.
2. This being your first published book, how hard was it to break into the industry?
Have I broken in? I’m still not sure. Ashfall was rejected at some stage by 24 literary agents, and I’m still not represented. All I did was find one person, Peggy Tierney at Tanglewood Press, who loved my novel. Luckily, that’s all it takes.
3. Do you have more books in the works?
I’m working on two more books in the ASHFALL series now. ASHEN WINTER is complete and in its fourth draft, although my critique group pointed out some serious flaws yesterday (thanks!), so I’m going to be working on a major rewrite for the next month or two. Tanglewood plans to release ASHEN WINTER in October 2012. The third book is 10 pages of notes and semi-random ideas at the moment.
4. What advice would you give to unpublished writers?
Read. Read more. No, read more than that. You read to learn your craft and to learn whether you’re doing original work or not. Read everything you can in your genre, then read some work outside your genre. Carry a book or e-reader everywhere. The minutes spend waiting here and there during the course of a day add up to a lot of reading time. Unless you’re writing television scripts, turn off the boob tube. Better yet, throw a brick at it. It’s cathartic.
5. Anything you want your fans to know?
Yes. Here are five fun facts about me:
• I keep a pet alligator in the guestroom bathtub. It’s really friendly with my wife’s three cats.
• I earned a black belt in Songahm Taekwondo in April.
• The broken arm I got in fourth grade was caused by an unfortunate run-in with a grizzly bear.
• I shelve my books in binary. You can find The Story of Edgar Sawtelle under 010110100101010.
• I’m not entirely sure what the word “fact” means, but I’ve got fun down to an art.