This week, our "When I'm not writing..." post comes from Mike Mullin, author of the YA post-apocalyptic series Ashfall. He's visiting us today to celebrate the release of ASHEN WINTER, the second book in the series, which came out earlier this month. Keep reading to find out what Mike does when he's not hard at work and to enter the giveaway!
I spend a few hours each week training at my taekwondo dojang. I took up taekwondo in part because of my debut novel, ASHFALL. I knew my protagonist, Alex, would have to be someone special to be able to survive, but I wanted to write an intensely realistic novel—what could happen—will happen—when the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts again. So giving Alex magic, superpowers, or vampirism was out. Instead, I decided he’d be a martial artist. The only problem? I didn’t know any martial arts at all.
So I enrolled at Indinanapolis ATA Black Belt Academy. I figured I’d take classes for a month or two and learn enough to fake it. Instead, I found I really enjoyed taekwondo, stuck with it, and finally earned my black belt not long before ASHFALL came out last year. I’m working on my second degree now.
My wife and I both love to cook—I created a special ASHFALL themed menu last year. If you want to try it, I posted the recipes here. We also enjoy trying new restaurants and an occasional good bottle of wine.
Many of the survival skills described in ASHFALL are based on personal experience. I spent quite a bit of time as a teenager tramping around in the woods, including one three-day stretch with nothing but a knife. Now I prefer hotel rooms to improvised shelters, but I still enjoy hiking and canoeing.
I also spend a fair amount of time biking or walking around Indianapolis. I’m fortunate to have a grocery store, post office, and library in easy walking distance, so I don’t have to use my truck for routine errands. I’m trying to cut down on the amount of gasoline I consume and CO2 I put into the atmosphere, although all the driving for book tours isn’t helping that effort.
Speaking of the library, the number one thing I do with my spare time is read. I put all the books I read on Goodreads—you can become my friend there if you like so we can chat books. Last year I read 171 books, or a little over 40,000 pages of text (thanks for counting, Goodreads!)
My guilty pleasure is computer games. That stuff at the beginning of ASHFALL about World of Warcraft? Yeah, that’s all based on “research.” I had to quit playing online games, though—I was getting way too addicted to them. Lately I’ve been playing Civilization V and Skyrim, although I’m on hiatus from all computer games for a while so I can get ready for my fall book tour and finish the third ASHFALL book.
How do I find time for all that? Well, for one thing, I don’t watch television. The average American would gain 35 hours per week by throwing a brick through their TV screen. And I’m very fortunate that my wife has a job with health insurance, so that I can write full-time.
So, that’s me in a nutshell. Anyone got a nutcracker? It’s kind of dark in here. What do you like to do in your spare time? Let me know in the comments, please.
Thanks for such a great post, Mike!
Here's the scoop on ASHEN WINTER:
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.
You should also check out ASHFALL, the first book in the series:
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.
Fifteen-year-old Alex is home alone when Yellowstone erupts. His town collapses into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence, forcing him to flee. He begins a harrowing trek in search of his parents and sister, who were visiting relatives 140 miles away.
Along the way, Alex struggles through a landscape transformed by more than a foot of ash. The disaster brings out the best and worst in people desperate for food, clean water, and shelter. When an escaped convict injures Alex, he searches for a sheltered place where he can wait—to heal or to die. Instead, he finds Darla. Together, they fight to achieve a nearly impossible goal: surviving the supervolcano.
Mike is generously offering one (1) lucky reader a copy of ASHEN WINTER! It will be signed if you have a US address or from the Book Depository if you live outside of the States.
To enter the giveaway, obey the Rafflecopter!
(as long as the Book Depository ships to your country)
Ends Monday, October 29, 2012a Rafflecopter giveaway
Do you guys have suggestions for who you’d like to see featured on the blog? If so, you can make your suggestions on this page. No guarantees that your favorite authors will be able to participate but we’ll try!
Authors, would you like to visit and share with us? Please email me at jennblogs (at) gmail (dot) com and we’ll set it up!