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Dec 4 / Michael

TombQuest video shoot at the Met!

Back in September I had the opportunity to shoot a video for Scholastic Book Fairs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, home to one of the world’s preeminent collections of Egyptian antiquities and a major setting and inspiration for TombQuest. We arrived early in the morning and were ushered inside the museum two hours before it opened! It was one of the coolest experiences of my life, and I wanted to share a few photos I recently got of my epic morning at the Met.

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The amazing Scholastic crew and me, outside a special entrance. Can you believe they are going to let the dork in the polo shirt inside?

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Getting the light right alongside the world famous Temple of Dendur, an ancient site that was shipped over block-by-block from the banks of the Nile and reassembled within the Met.

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The Met press officer who accompanied us was fun, cool, and incredibly knowledgable. After she schooled me on the female pharaoh Hatshepsut, I explained how the magic works in TombQuest!

Dec 2 / Michael

First reviews for TombQuest and Sharks and good news for Rotten!

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The reviews are in for my new book and my next book: and they’re excellent! I don’t know if you’d call them glowing reviews, exactly, but I am currently sitting in a dark room looking at them on my computer screen, so, yeah: They’re glowing reviews!

First up, Kirkus Reviews sizes up TombQuest in its November 15 issue. The best part comes at the end:

“Like a preteen Indiana Jones and Lara Croft, Alex and Ren make a compelling duo, and Northrop balances pathos and action effectively to engage readers. Funny and smart, Alex and Ren are excellent companions for this fast-paced and scorpion-filled ride.”

Hooray—and phew! It is stressful waiting for that first official review of a new book—and Kirkus is notoriously tough—so I am definitely happy (and relieved) about this one. And speaking of happy: Surrounded by Sharks is on the board! It received its first official review in the October issue of School Library Journal. Once again, the best bit comes at the end:

“The climax steadily builds as readers are pulled through the narrative via multiple points of view, including that of Davey; a tiger shark; and Brando, his adventurous younger brother. Overall, this story strikes a balance of suspense and action, all while interweaving intriguing facts about sharks. Of special interest for reluctant readers and fans of survival stories.”

Which is, of course, exactly what I was going for. Sharks is a book for reluctant readers, avid readers, and fellow Shark Week aficionados!

And finally, one last bit of good news: ROTTEN has been named to the 2015 TAYSHAS (Texas) High School Reading List, along with a posse of fantastic YA novels, meaning that a passel of teens in the Lone Star State will be getting to know JD, JR, and the rest of the pack!

Sep 13 / Michael

Recent Wrap-Up: TombsDay is coming + news from Germany (and an elephant w/ a ribbon)!

Wrapped up in my new project...

Wrapped up in my new project…

All right, I haven’t blogged in dog years (again): 2.5 months is bad even for me. But I have a good reason—and HUGE news! Herewith:

1) TOMBSDAY is coming!
I am writing Scholastic’s new multi-platform series, TombQuest! Multi-platform means there will be a video game (I’ve seen an early version and it is Ah. Maze. Ing.) and website—an entire online community! And series, in this case, means there will be five books :o Book 1: Book of the Dead comes out February 1, 2015 (TombsDay!), and a new one comes out every 4-5 months after that. Of course, first I have to write them all, back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back! (I’m currently gearing up to start the third.) It has been insane in the membrane—I barely saw the sun this summer. Then again, that is very tombish of me, no?

The cover of Book 1: Isn't it boo-tiful?

The cover of Book 1: Isn’t it boo-tiful?

The series follows Alex Sennefer, whose Egyptologist mom uses the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead to save his life, but in the process releases five powerful evil spirits known as the Death Walkers. But don’t listen to the man dressed as a mummy (good advice, in general), here is a big Publishers Weekly article about it all. Exciting times (and tombs), people!

2) Germany goes to the hunde!
Räudiges Pack
My beloved German publisher, Loewe Verlag, has just released the German edition of Rotten: Räudiges Pack! It is the third of my books they’ve translated into German. Check out this awesome page on their site, featuring all three. Loewe Verlag means lion publisher, and I am incredibly grateful to the big cat of German publishing for giving my American underdog tale a new life.

3) Follow my on Twitter! (Or add me on FB!)
Seriously, lord knows when I’ll blog again! Follow me on Twitter at @mdnorthrop—I follow back! Or add me on Facebook, especially if we’ve actually met, like if we did jail time together or whatevs.

4) And, of course, a baby elephant playing with a ribbon
Do I really need a reason?

See you next time, people! You all rule the school!

Jun 27 / Michael

Alert: SHARKS sighted on E! Online’s Best Summer Reads!

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My new thriller Surrounded By Sharks has been out for exactly a month and—what d’ya know?—people are starting to notice! Yesterday, E! Online named it one of their Best Summer Reads. Says E!, “Warning: You might not want to go in after, so save this book for when you’re lounging poolside.” Good point! I would also add lounging couchside, parkside, and bus(in)side to that list.

A week earlier, the ever awesome I Heart Daily named SHARKS one of Three Stellar Beach Reads! “The suspense that builds and builds requires a read in one sitting,” says IHD. “And the finale? So worth it!” Also making the cut, The Prince of Venice Beach by the amazing Blake Nelson, which just underlines what a huge honor it is to see my tense little shark tale on these lists.

And in case you’re wondering if there is anything else rattling around in my square head besides gratitude these days, I did a fun interview with The Harvard Square Edition, talking all about writing, YA fiction, inspiration, oceans, and, of course, sharks.

And that’s all I got! I hope you’re having a great summer. It’s beach weather out there—at least that’s what the sharks tell me!

Jun 7 / Michael

A great week to be ROTTEN!

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Fresh off the fins of my fifth book’s arrival, my fourth book is making some noise. I got two pieces of amazing news about ROTTEN this week:

On Wednesday, I learned that my li’l dog tale is a finalist for the 2014–15 Keystone to Reading Award. The other finalists are Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz, Seeing Red by Kathryn Erskine, and The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman. Pennsylvania teens will read all four books and vote on the winner in March. ROTTEN may be an underdog in such esteemed company, but it is well suited to the role!

Then on Friday, I found out that ROTTEN has been named one of the Best Children’s Books of the Year by the Bank Street College of Education. SUH-weeeeeet! It’s the first big list for my third YA. PLUNKED actually made the same list, and it was a harbinger of big things to come for that little book. Fingers crossed—and stumpy tails wagging—that it’s just as lucky this time.

May 31 / Michael

Well, Surrounded By Sharks is out…

How on earth will I celebrate?

And special thanks to everyone who took part in the epic launch day #Sharenado. We may not have reached Sharkcat levels, but we still made some waves online!

May 6 / Michael

Countdown to SHARKS!

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My new teen survival novel, Surrounded By Sharks, comes out May 27th! The advance review copies were a little late and so, well, the advance reviews are a little late. I have a few ideas how to get the word out on my own, though. In addition to chumming the waters off Coney Island—a legal gray area, my lawyers assure me—I plan to rely heavily on LOLSharks. And one intrepid pug. I don’t see how this can go wrong…

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Pugnacious marketing!

Pugnacious marketing!

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Feb 24 / Michael

Hardball, soft cover: Plunked hits paperback!

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.)

Click for a full view!

It’s so byoootiful! Click pic for a full view.

Plunked already got a second life in hardcover when NPR picked it for their Backseat Book Club, so the paperback feels like extra innings at a double header—free baseball! Sometimes I love this game.

Jan 3 / Michael

2014: Year of the Shark!

Prepare to get Surrounded by Sharks this summer—or prepare to read it, anyway! I have a new book coming out, and I am very excited about it. The cover is amazing, and that’s the tooth!

shark-front

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.

Dec 24 / Michael

“Congratulations, Fantasy Champion”! (Also the title of my autobiography)

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.

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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!