Just a quick note to say that Plunked, the little baseball book that could, comes out in paperback today. I will be celebrating by, uh, not really knowing what to do for a paperback release. This book has already been a fantastic experience, though. In addition to winning a few awards here and there, it has also allowed me to meet and talk to hundreds of amazing young readers and athletes. (“Plunked Day” in Kirkwood, Missouri, is still one of the coolest experiences I’ve had since I began writing.)
Here’s the official tagline:
Dragged out to sea with nothing but a piece of trash to keep him afloat, Davey is certain things can’t get any worse . . . and then he spots a shark.
That’s right: another trashy novel! (In this case, a discarded water-cooler bottle.)
And here’s the official description (official just means written by people who are better at this sort of thing than I am, by the way):
He couldn’t sleep. That’s how it all started.
When Davey wakes, just as the sun is rising, he can’t wait to slip out of the crammed hotel room he’s sharing with his family. Leave it to his parents and kid brother to waste an entire day of their vacation sleeping in! Davey heads for the beach, book and glasses in hand, not bothering to leave a note. As the sparkling ocean entices him, he decides he will just test the water. Never mind that “No Swimming” sign. But when the waves pull him farther and farther out to sea, Davey finds himself surrounded not only by water, but something else — something circling below the surface.
On a less official note, I’ve always been fascinated by sharks. My favorite movie is Jaws, and my favorite week is Shark Week. My goal with this book was to present sharks realistically—not as human-seeking torpedoes, but as animals intimately adapted to their environment—but to nonetheless put them at the heart of a thrilling and suspenseful story. I did it by stranding a 13-year-old boy in open ocean rather than, say, putting two thousand sharks in a tornado. I am very happy with the result. It comes out at the start of the summer, of course, and I promise it bites in only the best possible way.
Official release date: May 27, 2014.
I won my fantasy football league! All those people who said I’d never amount to anything are no doubt stunned this morning, staring thunderstruck at their palms and wondering how they could have been such fools. That’s right, doubters, I ran roughshod over Yahoo! Public League 844418—debatably the finest of all the Yahoo! Public Leagues between 844416 and 844420.
I tried to crop out the Toyota thing in this screenshot, but it resulted in an image that looked either somehow wounded or like one of those middle states on the map. So I left it, but let it be known across the land that the only pickups that factored into this win were waiver-wire pickups—Knowshon Moreno before Week 1, Philip Rivers not long after that, Keenan Allen right before kickoff one fateful Sunday. So much time on the waiver wire… Special thanks also to my franchise players: Beast Mode, Eric Decker, and the KC D.
I’d say I promise to be more attentive to blogging now that the season is over. Sadly, however, I’ve discovered Minecraft. (There’s also the small matter of an extremely tight writing deadline.) I’ll have big news and a new book in the New Year, but that, as they say, is then. For now, I’d like to wish you all Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and all the best in 2014!
We are exactly midway through fall. Here in NYC, the soft sun still reminds me of summer, while the chill in the air lets me know that winter is coming. It also reminds me that, man, I haven’t blogged in dog years! Here’s a quick look at what’s been going on here at Michael Northrop World HQ:
1. Plunked on NPR!
Baseball is in the air: My beloved Red Sox are in the World Series, and my middle-grade novel Plunked is National Public Radio’s Backseat Book Club pick for October! The whole thing was a whirlwind that began with an email from my amazing publicist at Scholastic and ended with me sitting here (mouth agape, stunned by life) listening to myself on the radio. How professional was the NPR crew? There was a long “pre-interview” over the phone before the actual interview. That official interview—with host Michele Norris, who is all kinds of awesome—took place at NPR’s New York City offices overlooking Bryant Park. (I signed in right after political pundit Chris Matthews.) The results—including a great reading by 11-year-old Alex Holmes and audio clips from two of my favorite movies—were broadcast on All Things Considered and can be heard online here. (Come on, click it! How often am I on national radio?)
2. Czeching in on Operation Snow Globe
The two newest editions of Trapped have arrived: V Pasti in the Czech Republic and V Pasci in Slovakia! My very cool publisher over there, CooBoo/Albatros Media, tweeted me this picture:
3. And speaking of pictures: Vienna!
I included a few pictures from Germany in the last post, but here’s one from the first leg of that trip. Vienna was sehr, sehr schön. I am still a bit spellbound by it. Here’s a shot taken from (and reflected in) the window of my room on Rechte Wienzeile:
And here’s a bonus shot. I was thinking of going with the one of swans gliding across the Danube River, but I think I know you better than that. Here’s a snapshot of one of the world-famous Lipizzaner stallions waiting patiently as his little home in “Stallburg” is cleaned. I call this one “Everybody Poops.”
(Click to enlarge to check out his rock-star bangs.)
All right, so I haven’t posted in a while. That’s not all that unusual for me, but this time I have an excuse: I was in Europe! I spent four days in Vienna, Austria, and a week in Berlin, Germany. It was part vacation—a deal I made with myself during back-to-back-to-back deadlines—and part work and entirely awesome. I went on several adventures and took one godzillion pictures. I posted many of my favorites on Facebook, and some on Twitter, so feel free to friend/follow me and check them out. In the meantime, here are three from Berlin. I was headed out for some morning coffee and a little reading in Friedrichshain, a cool neighborhood in what used to be East Berlin, when I saw this:
A photo booth! It looked very cool but also thoroughly beaten down. I hesitated for just a moment before taking a seat and dropping in a 2 Euro coin. At first nothing happened, and I was pretty sure I’d just flushed those Euros. Then I heard a click and a rattle from somewhere deep in the old machine. A red light came on and then: Pop! I was startled by a bright flash. Three more came in quick succession. The red light blinked off, and I waited outside for the photos, the after-image of the flashes mixing with the morning sun. It reminded me of picture day in school. It’s no secret that those weren’t always kind to me… I was hoping for better this time, but I still didn’t know if this battered old booth actually worked. It had started humming at some point, but I wasn’t sure if it was producing photos or preparing to electrocute me. Then I heard a faint thunk in the little slot by the door, and I got my answer. Did it work?
Kind of! Sure it’s a little washed out, but maybe *some of us look better that way*, all right? I wish they’d understood that in fifth grade! Anyway, I took the photos to my favorite little hole-in-the-wall cafe on Warshauer Strasse and surveyed the results over strong post-communist coffee.
It definitely could’ve been worse, especially since every single one of the flashes caught me by surprise. I finished one coffee and two chapters and slid the little strip of photos into my book—the perfect size for a bookmark. Then I headed to the S-Bahn station and some of the most amazing museums on earth. I miss you already, Berlin—du fehlst mir!—but we’ll always have the Photoautomat.
Just popped down to the post and picked up a lovely package from the Royal Mail: The UK edition of Trapped has sold out and gone back to the presses, and the good folks at Atom Books took the time to send me one of the reprints. So very awesome. Meanwhile the German edition, Kälte, continues to chug along. My friends at Loewe Verlag (that means Lion Publisher, by the way) emailed me a passel of press clippings a while back, including nice reviews from both Germany and Austria. The Italian edition—In Trappola!—is also out, and new translations are on the way in Russia, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.
While Operation Snow Globe is rolling on, Operation Worldly Gentlemen is off to a somewhat slower start. Schieflage, the German edition of my very dark debut novel, Gentlemen, came out in June. It still doesn’t have a single bad review on Amazon.de, but then, it doesn’t have a single good review, either. Reviews, it has none. Not a great sign, but Germany has a very lively book culture and isn’t as Amazoned up as the U.S., so that matters less over there. And of course, in book sales as in life, Worldly Gentlemen take their time.
When I first launched this site, it had an Events Page. It even had a mascot: Otto, the Event Otter. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that many events back then, so I got rid of the page. Have you ever had to lay-off an otter? It’s rough. I still remember Otto’s big sad eyes as he carried his wee little lunch pail out the door. But now, all sudden like, I have a bunch of events coming up! And Otto is back! Admittedly, it’s project-based employment, but he tells me he’s joined the modern freelance economy, like most millennial otters of modest means. Now I’ll get out of his way and let him do his thing:
August 11, Books of Wonder, 18 W. 18th Street, NYC, 1–3 pm
November—an eventful month! I’m traveling to at least two book festivals, but the details are still being hashed out, so I’ll let Otto tell you about those at a later date. (LBH, he needs the work.)
A minor misunderstanding (or two) in the cafeteria…
No puppy videos today, people: I’ve got bona fide news! I have two new books to announce, one here and one overseas.
1) Hier Kommt Shieflage
My first YA novel, Gentlemen, is heading to Germany, and like most sensible travelers, it will be dressed all in black. It will be published by my very awesome German publisher, Loewe Verlag, on June 17th under the title SCHIEFLAGE. That means imbalance, with an intriguing undertone of damage thrown in, and yeah, that seems about right for my deeply troubling debut.
2) Get Surrounded by Sharks next summer
And next up in good old English (though thankfully not Old English) my latest survival story from Scholastic will surface in Summer ’14. Here’s the official announcement from Publishers Marketplace:
Children’s: Young Adult
TRAPPED author Michael Northrop’s SURROUNDED BY SHARKS, in which a 13-year-old boy finds himself clinging to life—and a discarded water cooler bottle—in the warm waters off Key West, only to realize he is far from alone out there, again to Anamika Bhatnagar at Scholastic, by Sara Crowe at Harvey Klinger (World).
This one was a blast to write. I mean think about it: Most authors only get to write fin once, at the end—and only if they’re French. I got to write it like 45 times. I’m also a huge shark nerd and shameless Shark Week addict. Since this one is sort of a middle grade/YA hybrid, I got to shoehorn quite a bit of interesting shark science into it. I also got to write a book that treats sharks realistically (and not as, say, human-seeking missiles), but still allows them to be utterly terrifying, by taking the main character out of his environment and dropping him in theirs.
Anyway, exciting times here at Michael Northrop World HQ! And . . .