Author Interview: Michael Mullin with TaleSpins (YA Fantasy)

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In your own words, describe your book….

TaleSpins is a collection of three alternative fairytale retellings: 8, the story of the unknown 8th dwarf named Creepy; The Plight and Plot of Princess Penny, in which a teen princess hires a witch to get revenge on a Mean Girl at school; and Jack’d, an urban, fantastical retelling that includes beans, but no stalk! And all three stories are written in rhyming verse! (No joke.) Reviews have confirmed what I had hoped in writing them: that the stories are an enjoyable combination of humor, cleverness and meaning.

What is the genre?

The broadest stroke is YA fiction, but as the market gets flooded with content, subgenres emerge. Witches and trolls indicate fantasy, and my stories have humor, too. I’ve even seen a subgenre of “fairytale retellings.” TaleSpins certainly fits there! It’s YA vs children’s book because of themes and vocabulary. There’s nothing inappropriate in the content, but I purposely did not dumb it down. Better to have younger kids ask questions than older kids roll their eyes in boredom.

What inspired you to write TaleSpins?

While working at Disney I wrote two sequel stories to Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. I used the rhyming verse format of his picture book (the one that inspired the movie). I actually met with Burton and got his approval. The first TaleSpins story, 8, was meant to be my original follow-up for that same Nightmare audience. After it became clear that the Nightmare books would not be published, I went my own way with two more stories.

Will this book be a standalone or part of the series?

It’s currently standalone, but obviously there is opportunity to return and write more twisted fairy tales. I’d never rule that out, but I’m on to other projects now.

What message would you like to convey with TaleSpins?

Classic stories retold from an alternative point of view or twisted in a new way is a popular trend. My hope is that TaleSpins goes beyond just the fun and entertainment of that and sheds a little light on how important it is to recognize there are many sides to a story. I think in their own little way, the TaleSpins characters illustrate real-life issues despite coming from their fantastical otherworlds.

What books are similar to this one?

None EVER in the history of the world!!! Just kidding. That sounds cool, but what a marketing nightmare that would be, right?

Where can readers find your book?

Amazon is easiest, of course. And B&N online carries the eBook (Nook) version only. If readers are feeling particularly adventurous, they can get it (along with exclusive, cool TaleSpins stuff) from my site: http://www.talespinsbooks.com/shop/

Can you tell us some about the writer behind the book?

I probably drink too much coffee (a little cream, no sugar), and I’m a little geeky about The Batman and my Boston sports teams.

Tell us one thing about you we wouldn’t know?

I used to teach preschool and college, two positions I found disconcertingly similar.

How can readers connect with you?

The best way is commenting on the site, although I’m quite possibly the worst blogger ever. There are some pieces I’ve written up there, however, that I think readers will find interesting. Nothing dated, so dig around! In addition to that, 8: The Untold Story has a Facebook page   and I’m on Twitter as @TaleSpinsBooks.

What are you working on now?

A few things: I’m writing and publishing 8 as a comic book, which is new and fun. I’ve also finished a middle grade, sci-fi humor/adventure novel titled Rocketboy that is due to be published early in 2014. Beyond that, I am about halfway through a traditional YA novel titled Simon that’s a modern-day retelling of Hamlet.

Do you have any other books released? What is your next release?

I’m co-author of the successful Larry Gets Lost picture book series created by the wildly talented TaleSpins artist John Skewes. My next release will most likely be the 8 comic, then Rocketboy.

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