Title : Sunrise
Author : Mike Mullin
Published : March 2014
Publisher : Tanglewood Press
The Yellowstone supervolcano nearly wiped out the human race. Now, almost a year after the eruption, the survivors seem determined to finish the job. Communities wage war on each other, gangs of cannibals roam the countryside, and what little government survived the eruption has collapsed completely. The ham radio has gone silent. Sickness, cold, and starvation are the survivors’ constant companions.
When it becomes apparent that their home is no longer safe and adults are not facing the stark realities, Alex and Darla must create a community that can survive the ongoing disaster, an almost impossible task requiring even more guts and more smarts than ever—and unthinkable sacrifice. If they fail . . . they, their loved ones, and the few remaining survivors will perish.
This epic finale has the heart of Ashfall, the action of Ashen Winter, and a depth all its own, examining questions of responsibility and bravery, civilization and society, illuminated by the story of an unshakable love that transcends a post-apocalyptic world and even life itself.
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About the author:
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 glad this writing thing seems to be working out.Mike holds a black belt in Songahm Taekwondo. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and her three cats. Ashen Winter is his second novel. His debut, Ashfall, was named one of the top five young adult novels of 2011 by National Public Radio, a Best Teen Book of 2011 by Kirkus Reviews, and a New Voices selection by the American Booksellers Association.
Face Book: https://www.facebook.com/mike.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions. I'm so excited to have you here on Book Lovers Life. I'm a massive fan of the series and am so happy to feature it here. Its firmly on my favourites shelf!
What was involved research wise when writing all three books?
I had an interest in volcanoes before I started writing ASHFALL, but it was the sort of ‘look, shiny!’ kind of interest lots of people have in Mother Nature’s most impressive temper tantrums. I definitely didn’t know enough to write my books without a ton of research.
I started by reading all the books I could find on the subject. Greg Breining’s Supervolcano: The Ticking Time Bomb beneath Yellowstone National Park was particularly useful as was Savino and Jones’s Supervolcano: The Catastrophic Event that Changed the Course of Human History. You can find many of the sources I used on my website. Online resources like the United States Geological Survey and Wikipedia were helpful as well.
From there, I delved into primary sources, reading many of the scholarly articles cited in the secondary sources I read. I found several relevant articles in The Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. I visited the Indiana University Geology Library in Bloomington during this phase, passing myself off as Margaret Mullin (my wife, who is a doctoral student) so I could check out books.
I got stuck at one point during the writing process. The solution: road trip! My wife and I took off for a week in romantic Iowa. We drove every step of the route Alex takes through northern Iowa and Illinois. Many of the scenes in ASHFALL were created as a direct result of our trip. Later, I flew to Portland to relearn cross-country skiing and visit Mt. St. Helens.
Finally, I sent a manuscript to two geologists and made numerous changes based on their suggestions. There’s a more detailed discussion of the science behind ASHFALL on the Our Time in Juvie blog.
For ASHEN WINTER, I went back to Iowa twice. I drove every step of the route that Alex and Darla take in the book. During rewrites, I also had help from Kathrina Senft, who took a bunch of pictures of the Bowman Chiropractic Clinic for me—a setting I added late in the process. Ken Bandy in Indianapolis spent hours educating me on shortwave radios, and Fred Ropkey of the Ropkey Armor Museum in Crawfordsville let me crawl all over and under his beautifully restored M35-A2. My father-in-law, Retired Colonel Joseph Boling, took me to a shooting range and taught me the basics of more than a dozen handguns. Terry Farley taught me the rudiments of operating an M-14 automatic rifle and a Remington bolt-action rifle. Ray Liwosz helped with pharmaceutical questions. Carol Oates, Linda Poitevin, Nick Liwosz, Jill Robinson, and Zach Robinson patiently answered my questions about autism and suggested numerous changes to Ashen Winter—helping me to bring Ben to life. I also read more than 20 books about autism and Asperger’s.
For SUNRISE, I spent most of my time in Northwest Illinois, photographing grave yards, wind farms, and the towns of Warren and Stockton. I also visited all the sites in Rockford, Illinois I mention in the book, and I stole a copy of the Rockford telephone directory to use as I revised. My brother Paul, who is an electrical engineer, provided invaluable help on technical questions about heating greenhouses with wind turbines. I’m probably forgetting others who helped—check the acknowledgements in the back of all three books for more details.
What drew you to write a Post Apocalyptic book and is this a genre you enjoy?
Yes, I love the genre. I’ve been reading apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, and dystopian literature since I read Z is for Zachariah when I was eight or nine. I had always wanted to write an apocalyptic novel, but it seemed like all the good disasters had been done. There are great books set after floods, fires, plinian volcanoes, tornadoes, hurricanes, meteor strikes—you name it. So when I learned about the Yellowstone supervolcano from reading Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything and discovered that there was no fiction (at that time) set in the aftermath of a super-eruption, I decided to write ASHFALL.
Have you gone to Yellowstone recently?
No, the last time I’ve been to Yellowstone was more than 20 years ago. I’d really like to go back.
What book/s are you reading at present?
Here’s what I’m reading as of February 2nd. By the time this is published, I’ll be on different books. I post everything I read on Booklikes if you want to follow along.
The book I’m carry around in my backpack: Not a Drop to Drink by McGinnis
The book on my nighstand: Salt by Frost
The audiobook in my car: World War Z by Brooks
Finally have you another book planned or any ideas about another book?
Yes, I’m about 30,000 words into the first draft of SURFACE TENSION, a young adult thriller. It’s about a teen who sees a group of terrorists crashing an airplane from the ground. He’s the only one who knows how they’re doing it, and they want him dead.
***Thanks again so much Mike! Im always amazed at what goes into writing a book and find it fascinating to see what a writer does to create it. You give your all to give us a world to escape to, albeit a Post Apocalyptic one ;)
So guys what do you think of Mikes interview? Are these books you would read? Id highly recommend them.
I’d been looking forward to Sunrise by Mike Mullin for a while, having followed along in the Ashfall trilogy. I’d hoped for another rise in quality and story, as I felt there was from Ashfall to Ashen Winter, as well as further character development, plot twists, fights and struggles, and a well-rounded end that would leave the reader with hope for their future. For the most part, Sunrise delivers on this. However, it wasn’t quite as awesome as I’d have liked.
That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it, because I did. But the opening seemed pretty slow—actually almost the first half of the book seemed pretty slow, and when it did finally get going, it was on a fairly gradual incline rather than gripping us once it had us and dragging us on the final stretch of the story.
A lot happens in Sunrise. A LOT! True to the earlier books, the author hasn’t held back on the horrific-ness of some of the occurrences, yet the ones in Sunrise seemed slightly less believable than those in the earlier titles of the Ashfall series. I’m not sure, however, how much of this is to do with the ages of the characters these acts were thrust upon. I like to be constantly aware of a characters age throughout a novel, so I get a grounded sense of who and what I’m dealing with. In this trilogy, though, the characters have no choice but to grow up fast, if they’re to survive, which makes it often difficult to remember they are only teenagers.
Also, there was somewhat of a switch in character behaviours. Yes, Alex has been brave from the off, but his common sense hasn’t always been brilliant and most of his motivations tended to be emotion-drive. With Darla, she was strong from the off, and knew her stuff from the off. However, in Sunrise, she made some stupid, stupid suggestions, which placed herself AND Alex in serious danger, and led to said less believable horrific-ness mentioned above. I expected better of her, so it seemed almost out of character for her, which kind of made that whole set up seem forced (and I’m not sure what that occurrence actually added in the long run, either).
Okay, onto why I think the first half seemed to drag so much. It was mostly the extraneous information. There were certain things I believe could have used more description. One in particular was the bikezillas. Yes, they first made an appearance early on in the trilogy so we’ve already been introduced to them, but it had been quite a while since I read Ashen Winter, and with the small amount of description we were given of the contraption, I just could not picture these inventions during reading at all. After a while, it became distracting—possibly because I’m a fairly visual reader. But mostly, there was a lot of description in character actions and repetitive narration on Alex’s views, etc, and it was these that tended to slow the pace down quite a lot. I think a much faster paced story in the opening could have benefitted this one quite a bit—especially for any readers who just happen to hop along and check it out without having read the previous books.
BUT, with those gripes aside, I really did end up enjoying Sunrise. As I said, the pace picked up in the second half of the book, which is mostly how it has earned its given rating. And whilst Alex’s mum annoyed the crapola out of me with her behaviour and actions and attitude, I was intrigued by that angle played within the story (though, I do think Alex was seriously slow in figuring it out when it was slapping him upside the head). I enjoyed the power struggle between Alex’s clan and Stockton, his new relationships he developed with a beneficial-to-him group of people they met on their travels, all of the rescue missions he mounted or organised, the character development from Ed, Alex’s ‘rise to power’, as I felt it was rightful and deserved, and well handled … and the ending.
I loved how it all wrapped up with a feel good closure—even if the switch-around of Alex’s mother’s attitude toward Darla did seem forced and far too fast.
All in all, though? Nicely done, Mr Mullin.
This giveaway is sponsored by Books With Bite. It is one complete set of The Ashfall Series (Ashfall, Ashen Winter & Sunrise) from The Book Depository. Please make sure they ship to your country. Open to everyone!
I love this series and have featured it on my Friday Favourites post so I'm throwing in an extra Giveaway myself. Enter to win any of the books in the series for 2 winners.
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