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Aug 8 / Michael

POLARIS news: A cover quote from R.L. STINE! Plus the first, fantastic review!

POLARIS officially launches on Halloween, but I already have some BIG news to share. First, here’s the final (gorgeous!) cover. I still can’t quite believe this, but it includes an incredible (and incredibly generous) quote from an absolute legend of middle grade horror:

“This story is scary fun. Loved it!”—R.L. STINE(!!!!)
 
AAAAH! It gives me Goosebumps just thinking about it! 

And the second piece of news is that POLARIS got its first official review—and it’s awesome, too! Kirkus Reviews says: “The salty sailing details and the drama of keeping afloat in the face of damaging storms and winds is just as heart-pounding as the struggle for survival against the threat already onboard. An exciting blend of nautical adventure and monstrous horror.” (Click here for the full review, including an excellent, spoiler-free summary!)

I am feeling really humbled and grateful right now. A book launch is a scary thing for an other author (especially on Halloween!), but news like this definitely helps calm the jitters. (OK, some of the jitters.) More news soon!

Aug 5 / Michael

Four cartoons, heavy on animal jokes

I took a fantastic cartooning course at the School of Visual Arts this spring, but The New Yorker just rejected all of my cartoons. A clerical error, no doubt. Undaunted, I have decided to publish them here, in this slightly less exclusive venue. I hope you enjoy them!

 


OK, so my cartoons are a little heavy on animal jokes.



How did the New Yorker lay off this stuff???



This one has everything—baseball, formalwear, geese—but still, no dice. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be…

 

 

 

Feb 6 / Michael

POLARIS: My next scary tale sets sail this Fall!

I am over the moon (or in this case, the stars!) to finally announce my next middle-grade novel! POLARIS is classic horror story. Six kids are the last survivors aboard a 19th century sailing ship. They are isolated, but they are not alone. A terrifying and invasive new species, brought back from the depths of the Amazon, is stalking them.

Oh my stars: I love this cover! It’s gorgeous but still communicates all the mystery—and menace—of the story.

Like a lot of horror, it’s dark and closed-in and cautionary. It is the 1830s, a golden age of sailing and discovery—but not all discoveries are good ones. The surviving adults have abandoned ship. Now all that’s left is a mismatched and inexperienced young crew—a cabin boy, a scientist’s assistant, two secretive Spaniards, a gunpowder-toting “powder monkey,” and a long-suffering “hold rat”—none of them older than 12. They are thousands of miles from home and can go only as fast as the fickle wind and treacherous seas will carry them.

Here’s the official announcement from Publishers Weekly:

Anamika Bhatnagar at Scholastic has acquired North American rights to two middle grade books by Michael Northrop. The first, Polaris, pitched as The Thing on a 19th-century sailing ship, follows a voyage of discovery that goes horribly wrong, leaving only a handful of ship’s boys (two of whom are secretly ship’s girls) onboard with a terrifying and virulent new species. Publication is slated for fall 2017…

And that’s it for now, but I’ll have more news and updates soon. I can’t wait until this fall, when I can finally share this fun, scary ride with the world!

Oct 4 / Michael

To Transylvania: mountains and castles and bears!

I fulfilled a lifelong dream recently by trekking across Transylvania (in Romania). I’ve been pining for a trip to the misty Carpathian Mountains since I saw my first vampire movie—or was it werewolves? Either way, the real thing topped even the most delicious of B-movie thrills. Sure, I hit the requisite Vlad “the Impaler” and Bram Stoker landmarks, but Transylvania itself turned out to be the real star. The emerald green forests, the medieval towns and castles, the majestic, brooding mountains—oh, and did I mention the wolf tracks and the nine(!) very real bears that we saw?

I could go on well past the witching hour about this, but I hear a picture is worth a thousand words. With that in mind, here are a few of my favorites from the trip:

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At Bran Castle, a.k.a. Castle Dracula. If you’ve read Bram Stoker’s novel, that facade will be eerily familiar to you.

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“Wolf Dan” Marin, the best (and coolest) nature guide in Romania, leads us high up into the Carpathians. I’m the dork in the red backpack (or, as the wolves say, the snack).

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One of the nine bears we saw, 90 meters away—the distance to third base!

For more pictures, more bears, and one profoundly funky train, check out my album on Facebook.

May 26 / Michael

Sharks in Paperback: Everyone out of the water—and into the bookstore!

The compact, lightweight, and entirely beach-bag appropriate paperback of my middle grade survival novel Surrounded By Sharks is here—just in time for Shark Week!

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The cover is gorgeous, and that’s the tooth! Even better? The fantastic quote from Lauren Tarshis (author of the bestselling I Survived series and undisputed queen of survival stories!) at the top: “A heart-stopping survival story . . . Readers will devour this book!”

Also not too shabby, that shiny new New York Times Bestselling Author under my name. That definitely wasn’t there when the hardcover came out.

Apart from all the bells and whistles, though, I really love this book. I’ve always been fascinated by (and maybe a little scared of) sharks, and I definitely got to nerd out over our fine, finned friends in this book. (There’s even a chapter written from the perspective of a tiger shark!) But this book is also about survival, the ocean, and family. I’m also very proud of the pacing: It’s a slow build to a frenzied finish!

And did I mention that this toothsome blue book is only $7.99? So water you waiting for? Why not dive into your local independent bookstore, ominously humming the JAWS theme as you hunt the shelves for it? It’s also available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, and pretty much everywhere else books are sold (and fish are scared).

Anyway, that’s enough of the sales pitch. Suffice it to say, this book is one of my favorites. If you get a chance to check it out, I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Mar 28 / Michael

Five Alive: The Final Kingdom Is Here!

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Can you believe it, TombQuesters? The fifth and final book is out now! (And how amazing is that creepy-cool cover?!) This is what it’s all been leading up to. In The Final Kingdom, Alex and Ren must venture into the world of the dead in a desperate attempt to save the world of the living. They are pursued by The Order and their Death Walker allies at every step, leading up to a fierce, final showdown right back where it all started.

It’s been quite a ride for me, too. The first book came out a little over a year ago, on January 27, 2015, and immediately hit the New York Times bestseller list. It was one of the highlights of my career (and life!), but it was just getting started. I visited scores of schools from California to New Hampshire to talk about reading and writing (and mummies and magic). Another highlight: I got to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, where so many key scenes in the series are set, early in the morning before it opened to the public. Here I am talking with my amazing insider guide in front of the Temple of Dendur!

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This whole thing has been an amazing experience—and it’s time for the final chapter! If you want to get Book 5 now, why not pop into your local independent bookstore and tell them you’re on a TombQuest? Or get it online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Books-a-Million. The final book—and the Final Kingdom—is here. And like the mummy-maker said: It’s time to wrap this thing up!

Jan 12 / Michael

3 Things: Trapped in Korea and Stone Warriors on the move!

This post is overdue, as usual, so once again, I am playing catch up. Here’s a roundup of recent events at Michael Northrop World HQ!

1) Trapped in Korea!
Don’t worry, I haven’t been taken captive by the “Hermit Kingdom” of North Korea—not yet, anyway! Instead, I just received copies of the South Korean edition of my young adult novel Trapped. So cool! This is the sixth(!) foreign language edition for my snowbound survival tale. I love the cover on this one: kind of haunting—and very Korean. There are even some original illustrations inside!

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Manga-nificent!

2) The Stone Warriors are rock stars!
TombQuest 4: The Stone Warriors is out in the world, and I am excited, proud, and… relieved. I don’t talk much about books sales and things like that on here, as it might harm my delicate artistic soul (bows Frenchly), but I will say two quick things. First, the scariest thing about writing a five-book series is having to maintain the momentum and excitement all the way through. What if you write five books and no one’s paying attention after the third? (Pardon me while I hyperventilate into a paper bag for ten minutes.) Fortunately, Book 4 hit shelves on December 29—and around a thousand copies were plucked from those shelves that very same week. Hooray—and phew! Here’s hoping we can keep that momentum up all the way to Book 5 on March 29! (In the meantime, if any of you fine and discerning readers would like to leave a review of Book 4, it definitely helps! *Bows Frenchly*)

3) Congratulations, fantasy champion! 
I won my fantasy football league! That’s not even bragging, really, because I think I just wasted more time on it than anyone else in my league. Let’s just say I watched a lot of Fantasy Football Live and got to know the waiver wires *very* well. And here, in glorious, everlasting pixels, is my reward:

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Team duckweather1: All it’s quacked up to be.

Nov 2 / Michael

TombQuest 4 and 5: Got Ya Covered!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and I guess they’re right because it would take me at least that many to describe how much I love the covers of TombQuest books 4 and 5. So how about I spare you all the essays and just show you these gorgeous covers?

TombQuest 4: The Stone Warriors (Out Now!)

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I think my favorite thing about this cover is how it offers a cool twist on the signature look of the first three books. It’s similar enough to fit right in with the rest of the series, but different enough to be unique and new. There’s a lot of action inside the cover too. Alex and Ren cover a lot of ground in this one, from a mystical jaunt between continents (you can catch a glimpse of their destination on the cover!) to a fateful duel in the desert.

TombQuest 5: The Final Kingdom (March 29, 2016)

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This cover is creepy and cool and downright perfect for the series finale. It’s a big, bold look for an epic final book, where Alex and Ren must brave the world of the dead (and its guardian, Anubis!) to save the world of the living. All the questions will be answered and the ultimate battle will be fought!

Oct 26 / Michael

Scenes from TourQuest!

I recently packed up my wheelie bag and spent three weeks on the road to promote TombQuest 3: Valley of Kings. Along the way, I made stops in nine states: California, New York, Texas, Utah, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Ohio, and Kentucky. Every one of them was at least nine parts awesome: full of amazing schools, stores, libraries, and thousands of curious, smart, energetic, and just generally great kids. Here’s a look at just some of the memorable scenes from life on the road:

I wrapped things up with three terrific schoo
I wrapped things up with three terrific school visits—and the ragged remnants of my voice—in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photos courtesy of my awesome hosts, Carmichael’s Bookstore!)

So there you have it: Nine states total—twelve if you include exhaustion, elation, and gratitude—a voice that faltered but did not fail and a suitcase full of amazing experiences. I can’t wait to do it all again for Book 4: The Stone Warriors!

Aug 11 / Michael

Book 3 is here: Valley of Kings is on the map!

The third book in the TombQuest series is officially out: Valley of Kings is now on sale wherever books are sold! And this time, Alex and Ren (and Luke and Pai!) have finally made it to Egypt. Here’s a look at the stunning cover. As you can see, the action definitely heats up in the desert.

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The first two TombQuest books were set in New York and London, and I had a blast unleashing Ancient Egyptian magic in two of the world’s greatest cities: Scorpions in the subway! Evil under a creepy Victorian cemetery! But from the very start I’d been looking forward to writing about Egypt, itself. If you didn’t think this series would make it to da Nile, you were in denial!

In Book 3, the mummies finally get home field advantage. This one begins in Egypt’s sprawling capital, Cairo, which has descended into supernatural chaos. Sinister voices whisper on the wind, driving people to dark deeds in the dead of night. Fleeing the madness, Alex, Ren, and Luke follow a string of clues to the famous Valley of the Kings. Under the burning desert sun, they discover that the final resting place of such pharaohs as King Tut and Ramses VI might not be so restful (or so final) after all. As the friends turn over every stone in their search for Alex’s mom and the Lost Spells, a Death Walker lurks, a sinister plot begins to take shape, and a stunning twist awaits!

In the end, the most burning question of all could be: Who can you trust in a world gone mad?

Find out in Valley of Kings!

Game On!
If you haven’t played the TombQuest game lately, you need to Get On That! The game-design geniuses at Scholastic keep making it better and better, with new tomb designs, new treasures, and of course, new monsters and traps to guard it all. But don’t worry, you get some cool new stuff too. I love the new gear, weapons, and art they added in honor of Book 2’s London location. Here’s one of my favorite additions…

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Look at those wee Beefeaters, ready for action! So awesome. That could be you! Can’t wait to see what they add for Book 3!

[UPDATE: I just took my new improved avatar treasure hunting and, well, you had better bring your A Game! The other players have definitely beefed up their defenses and built some truly tough tombs!]