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Dec 2 / Michael

POLARIS tour: a fantastic voyage to Illinois!

4 days…
8 schools…
9 presentations…
4,000 kids!

Ahoy, mateys! I just returned from an amazing week in and around Plainfield, IL, where I visited eight fantastic schools for Scholastic Book Fairs. I was a little nervous about the trip since it was the first time I’d be giving my new presentation built around POLARIS. It was bittersweet to retire my old TombQuest presentation (which I gave 125+ times!) but I was excited to talk about high seas, historic ships, and one very creepy monster. Fortunately, the new presentation was a big hit (PHEW!) and the enthusiastic students from the Land of Lincoln were willing to weather even the most ARRRRRduous of pirate talk. Here are some photos from my fantastic voyage:

A sign of the times: A warm welcome on my first morning!

A sea of students: Presenting to more than a thousand kids at Heritage Grove Middle School!

After that, I clearly needed some water!

Navigation was an issue, but my student guides got me where I needed to go.

It was smooth sailing at Hadley Middle School, where I earned the rank of Captain Northrop! 

 

Thanks so much to Scholastic Books Fairs and all of the amazing librarians, teachers, and administrators who made this trip such a success. And of course, thanks to all the awesome students who made it such a joy!

Oct 23 / Michael

POLARIS is out now!

It’s here! The strange and scary sci-fi/horror/historical fiction mashup that began with a name that came to me in the dead of a sleepless night, POLARIS, hit shelves on Halloween! I’ve added it to my Books Page, and it’s fun to see all the nice things people have said about the book in one place. And the fantastic reviews are still rolling in! The latest is from the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, which says POLARIS has “Everything a thriller reader could ask for.” I love that!

My Books Page is here, and you can pick up this scary tale wherever books are sold. I am proud of this book and so excited to finally share it with the world!

Sep 6 / Michael

Two more amazing reviews! Plus, POLARIS is a Junior Library Guild selection!

via GIPHY

I already shared the first fantastic review for POLARIS a few posts ago. (That one was from notoriously tough Kirkus.) Now my scary sea story has received two more splashy reviews—and they’re great, too!

The first is from the September 1 issue of School Library Journal. Here are some of my favorite parts:

“This historical fiction/science fiction mash-up is filled with adventure, mystery, and horror… There are wonderful descriptions of life aboard a 19th-century sailing vessel, and each of the six children are given well-drawn personalities. VERDICT: Middle grade readers looking for an adventure on the high seas without leaving the comfort of their homes will love this swashbuckling, spine-tingling tale.”

Ah! So good, right? Swashbuckling! Spine-tingling! The next review is from Publishers Weekly. You can read the full review here, but once again my favorite part comes at the end. According to PW, POLARIS “incorporates a wealth of nautical and historical detail while making skilled use of atmosphere, tension, and a well-developed cast.” The reviewer steers clear of spoilers and calls the book “a brisk read, but one that is sure to linger after the lights have been turned out.”

I love that! This also seems like a good time to mention that neither the publisher nor the author of this book are responsible for any lost sleep caused and/or spooky chills. 🙂

One last bit of good news before I go. I just found out that POLARIS is an official Junior Library Guild selection. JLG is a fantastic organization that’s been around since 1929, and I am honored to be included.

Anyway, that’s all the news for now. Fall is in the air here in New York City, and it won’t be long until this dark, scary tale is out in the world!

Aug 28 / Michael

POLARIS preorder offer!

I’ve never really gotten much promotional “swag” for my books before, but an author friend of mine recommended a place and, well, long story short, I just got a boatload of POLARIS bookmarks and some Trapped stickers, too. If you preorder POLARIS anytime before it comes out on Halloween ’17, just let me know, and I’ll send you a signed bookmark and a Trapped sticker or three.

Just send your address and a shot of the receipt to me at michael at michaenorthrop dot net. (Or forward the confirmation message, or whatever—I’m not picky!)

The order can be from anywhere: Amazon, B&N, your local indy (always my favorite), you name it!

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!

MN-at-Met

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!