I recently had the opportunity to meet Mike Mullin, the author of Ashfall – his first published novel. Ashfall is due on the shelves in October. It was my privilege to sit with Mr. Mullin for a few minutes and learn more about Ashfall and the man behind the work. What I learned about Mike Mullin as a person made the story presented in Ashfall even more meaningful and impactful.
Mike, can you tell me a bit about your history as a writer?
Mullin: I actually began writing in the 6th grade. My first book was one of those typically childish works. Titled Captain Poopy’s Sewer Adventures, it was the first time I learned that I could actually make money writing. Much later I decided to try to publish a Young Adult Horror novel about teen volunteers in a homeless shelter, but that work never made it to publication.
What was the inspiration behind Ashfall?
Mullin: The original Ashfall was inspired by A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. The original version of the story came from the inspiration of a dream that awoke me at 3am one morning. This first work, about 5,500 words in all, was eventually abandoned in an effort to finish other projects. After an eight month hiatus in writing I restarted the book, but with a very different story in mind. The only word taken from the original work was “ashfall”.
You are a First Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo, how did your training influence Ashfall?
Mullin: Well, first you have to understand that I am not, nor have ever been, an “athletic person”. I originally started in Taekwondo, as an adult, after a close friend was attacked and viscously beaten. My friend’s beating, nearly to his death, served as a wakeup call for me. Alex [the main character in Ashfall] has a similar story. He is not overly athletic and begins training in Taekwondo as a reaction to what he calls “the year of the Bully” when his sister is victimized by school bullies. I used the knowledge of perseverance and the power of mental focus I learned from my training to help build the story. Alex also mirrors my own growth and struggles with anger and the power it can have over one’s life.
Was there anything you learned about yourself as you wrote Ashfall?
Mullin: While the original idea of the novel was not to use myself as the model for the main character, the more I wrote the more I discovered my own story being explained to me. As I wrote the book I found myself becoming more serious about my own martial arts training, finding that the perseverance I had written into Alex’s personality was inspiring me to push myself. I was finally able to put into words what I had felt as I trained, the ultimate competition we all face is the one with ourselves. The only person we should be fighting to be better than is our self. All other forms of competition are superficial.
I would like to thank Mr. Mullin for his time and the insight he shared with me. The interview was a great pleasure, and an honor. After meeting the author and reading his incredible writing, I am also inspired to reach beyond my current “limitations”. The main character in Ashfall is a wonderful model for how we should live and behave. Mr. Mullin is a humble martial artist who is going to make a big difference in the lives of young adults everywhere through his writing.