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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Guest Post: Mike Mullin (Author of Ashfall)

Today, please welcome Mike Mullin, author of Ashfall. Thank you so much for including me in your blog tour!

I love how Mike featured tough heroines in this post, they are always my favorite type of protagonists. In addition, his debut Ashfall, sounds like a great dystopian read, I can't wait to read it soon.


Tough Heroines
Guest post by Mike Mullin

I love novels with tough heroines. When Graceling’s Katsa spars with Prince Po, I’m cheering her on. One of my favorite moments in The Hunger Games is Katniss taking aim at the Gamemakers’ table, skewering the apple from their suckling pig’s mouth. And Andrea’s heroic feats with a bow in Two Moon Princess provide a similar thrill.

But there’s a different kind of tough heroine, a quieter type, that I love as well. Think of D.J. Schwenk’s bull-headed determination to maintain her family’s farm despite her Dad’s injury in Dairy Queen. Or Ree Dolly’s courageous quest to hold her farm and family together in Winter’s Bone. Whatever needs doing, she’ll face it with her chin forward: whether it’s skinning a squirrel, confronting a meth cooker, or wielding a chainsaw in an, um, highly unconventional manner.

In writing my debut novel, ASHFALL, I wanted to include the kind of heroine I admired so much in others’ work. But writing from a female point of view seems to me like high wire walking: it’s one of those things I admire when others do it, but it would get me killed. So my protagonist became Alex, a guy, but the leading lady, if you will, became Darla.

ASHFALL is set in the aftermath of a calamitous natural disaster: the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano. Alex is home alone for the weekend when the volcano erupts. His hometown descends into darkness, chaos, and violence. Alex is forced to flee, beginning a nearly impossible trek to find his family.

Alex is similar to the way I was as a teen. He’s more comfortable with a book or computer game than a baseball bat or can of beer, for example. He struggles with anger, letting rage get the better of him in ways that hurt both him and the people he cares about.

I doubt I would have survived what Alex faces at fifteen. I didn’t have the physical skills or determination necessary. So I gave him an edge—when ASHFALL begins, Alex has been training in taekwondo for nine years and has earned his black belt. While I also hold a black belt in taekwondo, I only took up the sport three years ago as an adult.

I left Alex with a streak of na├»ve idealism and innate trust—traits that Alex and I shared from our safe, middle class childhoods, traits that could easily be fatal to him in a post-apocalyptic environment. Enter Darla.

Like D.J., Darla has been keeping her family farm afloat nearly singlehandedly for two years. Like Ree, she’s willing and able to do whatever it takes to protect the people she loves. Like Katsa, she has something of a grace, an uncanny knack for all things mechanical.

I’ve always wanted to write a novel with a tough heroine. I hope you’ll give ASHFALL a few hours of your reading time and let me know if I’ve succeeded. To reach me or get more information, visit Thanks.


Summary: Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don't know it's there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet. Ashfall is the story of Alex, a teenage boy left alone for the weekend while his parents visit relatives. When the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts unexpectedly, Alex is determined to reach his parents. He must travel over a hundred miles in a landscape transformed by a foot of ash and the destruction of every modern convenience that he has ever known, and through a new world in which disaster has brought out both the best and worst in people desperate for food, water, and warmth. With a combination of nonstop action, a little romance, and very real science, this is a story that is difficult to stop reading and even more difficult to forget.

Purchase here:


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 (they taste like a cross between walnuts and carrots), 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. Mike holds a black belt in Songahm Taekwondo. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and her three cats. Ashfall is his first novel.

For more info on Mike, visit his sites:


Mary @ BookSwarm said...

I do love a good kick-butt heroine but they can be hard to write. Looking forward to reading about these characters!

Alyssa@Teens Read and Write said...

You picked some of my all time favorite heroines! Both Alex and Darla were terrific characters. Just like Katniss, you hit the mark - but in a literary sense! Thanks for the great post.

vvb32 reads said...

great post! i wanna read Ashfall!

Canada said...

:h:Alex and Darla are great characters and the attention to detail about the eruption and possible consequences afterwards were really great. I like the fact that the author did not make everything easy and there were events that were very bad for both characters, it was very realistic.

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