Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Author Interview: Michael Northrop

Alli's World had the pleasure of interviewing author Michael Northrop as part of the blog tour for his new book ROTTEN. If you are a dog person you will surely enjoy this interview. And if you like what you read be sure to pickup a copy of ROTTEN!

Alli's World: So we here in Alli's World are dog lovers and have a rescue pup of our own. We'd love to know if you are a dog lover too and have you ever had a rescue dog of your own?

Michael Northrop: Hello! Yes, I am a dog-lover too, and have been since the very beginning. I grew up in a small town with a big back yard and a mom who loved animals. We generally had between eight and nine animals at a time, about half dogs and half cats. About half of those would be rescues, and the other half would be adopted from someone’s litter. (When you have that many animals, word gets around. Every time a neighbor's pet had puppies/kittens, they’d knock on our door.)

One dog, in particular, was a major inspiration for this book. His name was Max, and he was either an unusually large Brittany, a Brittany mix, or just a big dog that looked a lot like a Brittany. He was rescued from a very bad situation, much like Johnny’s in the book, and I was just a little older than JD when we got him. He was scared and skittish at first, but once he was in a safe, loving environment, he let his guard down and became one of the greatest dogs I’ve ever


Alli's World: Do you have any funny or interesting pet stories?

Michael Northrop: My funniest pet stories involve a dog named Little Bit. He was a black lab mix and one of the great escape artists in history. Over the years, he escaped from the backyard by flipping the latch on the gate, the screen door by figuring out the handle, and one of those metal anchors you screw into the ground by, you guessed it, running around in the opposite direction and unscrewing it. He had a Rise of the Planet of the Apes level of animal intelligence.

So what did this canine Einstein do once he escaped? The stupidest things imaginable! He was sprayed by skunks three times and had his snout filled with porcupine quills twice! How can a dog be so smart and so dumb at the same time? I still don’t understand that.

But he was an awesome dog. We lived in Hartford for one fairly bad year when I was a kid. One day, my mom, brother, and I took Little Bit out for a walk. When we got back, he froze just inside the front door. He sniffed around a bit and then bolted straight up the stairs and into my bedroom. By the time we got up there to see what he was doing, he had already found and killed the biggest frickin’ rat any of us had ever seen. If he hadn’t, I would’ve been sleeping with that thing
scurrying around me—and we’d just moved and my mattress was still on the floor!

ROTTEN is dedicated to both dogs, Little Bit and Max.

Alli's World: What books or authors have influenced your writing?

Michael Northrop: There are so many. If I had to name a Top 3, I’d probably say: 

1) Ted Hughes. He was the Poet Laureate of England when I was in high school. He wrote very rough, visceral poems, generally focused on nature. His poem “Hawk Roosting” is written from the perspective of a bird of prey, and it really changed my idea of what good writing was and could be. 

2) William Faulkner, another writer who did interesting things with narration and point of view. I am a very slow reader (I’m dyslexic) and am often hesitant to read more than one or two books by the same author, just because there are so many other authors and books out there I want to check out. But I’ve read pretty much everything Faulkner has ever written. 

3) S.E. Hinton. She’s really the author most responsible for me writing YA (blame her!). Actually, she’s one of the authors most responsible for YA even existing. The Outsiders is basically a perfect YA novel.

Alli's World: Do you have any interesting (or weird) writing habits?

Michael Northrop: I don’t think so. I mean, I’m weird in a lot of ways, but I think my writing habits are pretty common: I write in the morning (I generally get started around 11 am, after a little too much time online), drink lots of coffee, and shoot for a thousand words a day. (I know a lot of authors who aim for 1,000 words/day, and most of us got it from Stephen King’s amazing book On Writing.)

Alli's World:  As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Michael Northrop: I wanted to be a mounted police officer (the kind that rides a horse). I thought it would be like being a modern-day knight.

Alli's World: We would really like to thank Michael for stopping by today and talking books and puppies with us! 

Author's Bio:

My name is Michael Northrop, and I am a writer living in New York City. I am the author of three YA novels: Gentlemen (2009), one of the American Library Association/YALSA’s Best Books for Young Adults; Trapped (2011), an ALA/YALSA Readers’ Choice List selection, an Indie Next List pick, and a Barnes & Noble Must-Read for Teens; and Rotten, which comes out on April 1, 2013. My first middle grade novel, Plunked, was named to the New York Public Library’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing.

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