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Ashfall with Mike Mullin, Q&A and Ashen Winter ARC contest

April showers bring May flowers – unless you live in a post apocalyptic world covered by volcanic ash.  Then, not so much.  Ashfall by Mike Mullin is just such a novel; it tells the story of a US after a major volcano eruption in Yellowstone.  Ashfall was also the subject of one of the photographs of The Real Fauxtographer, Margot Wood.  We may have mentioned her before (here and here to be exact).  Today, author Mike Mullin discusses Ashfall, his response to Margot Wood’s photograph inspired by his book, and the upcoming sequel Ashen Winter.  Be sure to read through the whole post because at the end we have an awesome surprise for you all.  You want to win a signed ARC of Ashen Winter, right?

Tell us a little bit about your novel Ashfall and how you came to write it.

Ashfall is about a teen struggling to survive and find his family after the cataclysmic eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano. My book was born in a library—Central Library in downtown Indianapolis. I saw a display that included Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything, and borrowed it. Dozens of novel ideas lurk within its pages, but the one that stuck with me was the idea of a supervolcano eruption. 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 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? The title, Ashfall.

How did you come across Margot Wood’s picture inspired by Ashfall?

Someone tweeted it to me. I read and attempt to respond to all @Mike_Mullin messages I get on Twitter (except the obvious spam, of course).

What does it mean to you as an author to inspire other artists in this way?  What kind of response do you have to something like this?

I love it. It feels recursive, in a way. Ashfall was partly inspired by photography—I taped about a dozen photos of the aftermath of volcanic eruptions to the wall above my desk while I was writing it, to help keep my head in the post-apocalyptic landscape. Perhaps someone will write a novel inspired by Margot’s photography, continuing the cycle.

Do you feel like her picture captures the essence of Ashfall?  How do you think it speaks about your novel?

It certainly captures the essence of Darla. She’s covered in ash and looks a bit haunted, almost ghost-like to me. But there’s determination in the thrust of her chin and the corners of her mouth. I get the sense of a young woman who has seen horrible things and been forced to grow up far faster than she should. Yet her gaze is upward—hopeful. That’s exactly how I picture Darla.
Photo by Margot Wood at The Real Fauxtographer

5.  What other types of feedback have you received about Ashfall?

Other artists have used Ashfallas inspiration for their work—here’s a drawing that St. Louis student Abigail Lee did in response to my book:

Image found at http://pinterest.com/pin/32510428529998822/

I think she did a lovely job capturing the feel of the post-apocalyptic landscape. And there have been hundreds of reviews and written reactions—some of them are linked at www.ashfallbook.com.

6.  Ashfallis going to have a sequel, Ashen Winter.  Can you tell us a little bit about what we can expect to happen and when to look for it in stores and libraries?

Ashen Winter will hit stores by October 8th. There’s a big launch party at Kids Ink Children’s Bookstore in Indianapolis on October 7th, and you’re all invited! There’s more info at www.ashenwinter.com.

Here’s the jacket copy for Ashen Winter (Warning: contains Ashfallspoiler):

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 series. 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.

Win it! As we wait in anticipation for Ashen Winter, you can enter to win an awesome prize package: 1 signed ARC of Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin and 1 8×10 of the Ashfall inspired photo by The Real Fauxtographer, Margot Wood.  To enter, simply leave a comment between now and May 21st.  The winner will be posted here on May 22nd and will have 1 week to contact me at kjensenmls@yahoo.com so that we can get their awesome prize to them.  Conest is open to US residents only please (although all comments are welcome regarding the content of the post). TLT would like to extend a sincere thank you to Mike Mullin and Margot Wood for this post and generous prize donation – and for their amazing art.

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.

Mike holds a black belt in Songahm Taekwondo. He lives in Indianapolis, Indiana with his wife and her three cats. ASHFALL is his first novel.  Connect with Mike on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads. You can also follow his blog or follow him on Pinterest. For more information, including contact information, check out his official webpage at mikemullinauthor.com.


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 the supervolcano 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.

The first two chapters of Ashfall and Ashen Winter are available on Mike’s website: www.mikemullinauthor.com.


  1. Love the connection between Mullin's book and photography – so interesting how the different artistic formats feed into each other. Looking forward to ASHEN WINTER!

  2. Ohh, I loved Ashfall 😀 And I have actually read Ashen Winter already (A) But via NetGalley. And I would love to win an ARC of it so that I can read it again 😀 And that picture is stunning. Really want that one as well 🙂 Doesn't say if the giveaway in international; hoping it is so. Anyway! Loving the Q&A 😀 Thank you for sharing 🙂
    Love, Carina

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  4. Thanks for pointing out that I didn't specify this parameter on the entries. It is actually US only but I will enter your name into the contest and pay for shipping myself if you win. Going to go put that in the post now, so thank you. And thanks for the heads up that Ashen Winter is available on Netgalley. Going to go request it now.

  5. Awesome giveaway! I loved Ashfall so much and I've been looking forward to reading Ashen Winter. I'm dying to find out what happens to Darla & Alex. 🙂

  6. I live 2 hours from Yellowstone National Park and have been there a number of times. I have Ashfall on my book list to order this month and would love to receive a copy of Ashen Winter so I can read them both this summer.

  7. Stayed up way too late last night reading Ashfall. Would love to do the same with Ashen Winter

  8. Stayed up way too late just last night reading Ashfall, but would love to do the same with Ashen Winter!

  9. This is one sequel I'm anxiously anticipating! I would love to win!!

  10. This is a sequel I am anxiously anticipating! October is too far away! I would love to win!!

  11. Oh my gosh! I would LOVE to be able to give this as a prize to my teens!

  12. oh my gosh, my teens would LOVE to compete in our SRC programs to win this!

  13. wow, the artworks are pretty impressive! And it's good a book has such an emotional impact!

    aliasgirl at libero dot it

  14. I loved Ashfall and can't wait for the release of Ashen Winter – mostly because Mike Mullin will be at my library the week after it's release!!! The photograph is incredible as well.

  15. Love Mike Mullin and am feeling quite lucky today. Please throw my hat into the ring. Would love to win ASHFALL and art. DM

  16. I love Margot Wood's work and her photo of Ashfall inspired me to grab it from the library. I am starting it this week. Can't wait.

  17. So cool! This will make a great SRP prize (if I can bear to part with it…) or a really cool display highlight in out teen section. (Hmmm… maybe we can even launch a draw-your-favorite-book-character contest for our art wall!)

  18. I loved Ashfall and have been dying to get my hands on a copy of the next book!

  19. I'm so bloody excited for Ashen Winter. I absolutely LOVED Ashfall. The world building is just phenomenal 🙂

  20. I can't wait for the release of ASHEN WINTER 😀 😀

  21. I haven't read Ashfall yet but after this post I'm putting it on my summer reading list! It sounds great! Just what my high school students love.

  22. I loved Ashfall and – just like everyone else commenting here – I can't wait for Ashen Winter. It's always interesting to find stories based on real life “What if?” situations. Love that the story was based on “What if Yellowstone decides to erupt?”

  23. Thank you so so much 😀 Also, I do not mind helping with the shipping costs if I do win. 🙂 Since the prize would be worth paying for. Thank you. <3 Awesome 🙂

  24. I am looking forward to Mike Mullin visiting my school in the fall. I would love to give away an ARC of Ashen Winter to a deserving student (after I read it myself, of course).

  25. Linda S. is the winner of our Ashen Winter ARC giveaway. Please contact me at kjensenmls@yahoo.com for more information Linda – and congratulations. My apologies for the delay in posting the announcement. My tech friend was helping me create a unique database to do contests so we didn't have to use Rafflecopter and like all tech projects, it did not go as planned.

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