Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mike Mullin

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 Mullin 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.

Mullin holds a black belt in Songahm Taekwondo. He lives in Indianapolis, Indiana with his wife and her three cats. Ashfall is his first novel.

Earlier this month I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
Fellow young adult author Saundra Mitchell was gracious enough to visit my launch party for Ashfall at Kids Ink Children’s Bookstore on Saturday (10/8). She came bearing a gift: the advance reading copy (ARC) of her newest novel, The Springsweet (Harcourt, April 2012). It wasn’t a gift for me, mind, but for the owner of the bookstore. However, by some devious means the ARC wound up in my bag. (I’ll give it back to Kids Ink tomorrow, Saundra, no need to hunt me down.)

The Springsweet is the companion novel to The Vespertine, released last year. It has a very different feel though—The Vespertine bustles through late 1800s Baltimore high society, while in The Springsweet, Zora lights out for a rough life in the Oklahoma Territory.

Both novels are a delightful blend of magic, mystery, and romance, but where The Vespertine has an ornate, Victorian feel, The Springsweet is more austere, bringing to mind the middle-grade classic, Sarah, Plain and Tall.

Saundra is a genius with language. You can open either of these books anywhere and know, just from the sentence structure and word choice, that you’re in a Victorian setting. But neither book reads as ponderously as actual Victorian-era novels—Saundra adds just enough authentic language to make the books feel right without bogging them down too much for modern readers’ sensibilities. Here, let’s try it: “’There’s a child present,’ Birdie said. She smoothed her hands over Louella’s ears, as if a scrap of verse could slip in and poison her tender thoughts.” (p. 136) See what I mean? If you enjoy historical fiction, paranormal tales, romance, or just lovely language, pick up a copy of The Vespertine now and keep an eye out for The Springsweet in April.
Visit Mike Mullin's website.

--Marshal Zeringue