Holiday Traditions & Memories with Mike Mullin

Welcome to my Holiday Traditions & Memories event, where some wonderful authors are sharing favorite traditions and/or memories with you. Today’s guest is Mike Mullin, author of the fabulous (yes, I’ve read them!) YA dystopians Ashfall and Ashen Winter.

Mike’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. Sunrise, the third book in his series will be released in March (and I so cannot wait!).

After you’ve read Mike’s post below, you can see more wonderful traditions and memories shared by readers in the comments on my 30 Days of Holiday Magic giveaway. Share your own story over there for a chance to win, too!

The Holidays in Action

My favorite holiday tradition is one that we’ve only been doing for the last five or six years: football. Not watching it—playing. Every year after the usual turkey feast, we pump up the football and go outside for a game. Here are the players, lined up and labelled in front of my parents’ house in Indianapolis.

Lined up and labelled

If you’ve read ASHFALL, you may recognize the names: Uncle Paul, Aunt Caroline, Max, and Anna—they’re all characters that appear in my books. Caroline is behind the camera. I borrowed their names with permission, of course.

Here’s Anna going up for a pass from Dad. We play two-on-three touch football. Two completions equals a first down. The driveway at one end of the front yard is an endzone—the other endzone is a row of bushes.

Anna catching a pass

Dad doesn’t run as much as he used to, but he’s still got a mean arm. This year’s game wound up as a 35 to 35 tie. Last year Paul and I got beat. His kids are getting to be too big and fast for the two of us.

Dad throwing

Guarding Max is impossible now, but at least I have fun trying!

Trying to defend Max

What about you? Do you prefer to play or watch football during the holidays? Let me know in the comments, please.


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 trilogy. 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.

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