Michael P. Spradlin is the author of more than a dozen books for children, some of which have actually been published. He grew up in a small town in Michigan not far from the Indiana border, which may explain his irrational fear of Hoosiers. (Both the inhabitants of the state of Indiana and the movie starring Gene Hackman).
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Surrounded by books in his formative years, he grew up loving to read, imagining himself the hero of numerous epic battles and indulging in his favorite pastime, which was smuggling fireworks across the Ohio border so that he could blow up his collection of Plastic Green Army Men and Matchbox Cars.
Who else is surrounded by books? Librarians and teachers. If you are either, follow this link →
Growing up, Michael was an Eagle Scout and read Boys’ Life religiously — and now he is a frequent contributor to magazine. What many people don’t realize is that Boy’s Life has a storied history of publishing some of the greatest writers in the world in its 100-year existence, Jack London, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke among others. While he doesn’t count himself as within a dozen counties of these literary giants, the thrill of being published in a magazine he grew up reading, one that influenced him as a writer is… well… thrilling.
Also thrilling: all these awards and honors and stuff like that →
Michael holds a black belt in television remote control. He is fluent in British, Canadian, Australian and several other English-based languages. He can often by found on his robotically piloted yacht where he likes to drink coffee and plot total world domination. Just kidding. He doesn’t drink coffee.
When not writing, he enjoys reading, traveling, spending time with his family and worrying over the fact that he really should be writing instead of doing other stuff. He lives in Michigan with his wife Kelly, and two dogs Willow and Apollo.
Helpful Links for Journalists of All Ages
- Full Booklist: Sortable by Reader Age, Alphabetical, Release Date, and also (for y’all who still use paper): printable
- Career Highlights
- Frequently Asked Questions (great info for author bio stuff for book reports)
- Mike’s Short Bio (good for introducing Mike at events!)
- Awards & Honors
- Publicity Photos
- Info for Educators (about school visits, about classroom downloads, about ordering books for school, etc)
Frequently Asked Questions
- What inspired you to become a writer?
- Michael’s Answer:
- I’m not sure if there was a ‘bolt of lightning’ moment. I grew up loving books and loving reading. Growing up in the age of no internet or cable TV, books were a tremendous source of entertainment to me. Since I loved books so much, I naturally progressed to the idea that writing them would have to be the coolest job ever. Eventually I just reached a point in my life where I said to myself, “Self, if you’re ever going to do this, the time is now…”
- Your books seem to cover a wide range of topics and themes. Why do you think that is?
- Michael’s Answer:
- Well, those who know me well would say it’s because I have the world’s shortest attention span. I think it’s because I find so many different things fascinating. I look first and foremost for stories. Even my picture books, which are non-fiction, tell stories with a beginning, middle, and an end. After that I just try to write the best story I can. When it comes to fiction I try to write the kind of books that I like to read. Fast paced action and adventure is the ticket for me. I’m often asked is there
a common theme to all of your books and I usually reply. “Yes, stuff blows up!”
- What advice do you have for prospective writers, regardless of their age?
- Michael’s Answer:
- My number one piece of advice is to write. Writing is a craft and a skill just like any craft or skill and the more you practice it, the better you get at it. I often tell students during school visits that no matter what they are interested in — sports, music or whatever — they will get better by practicing. Writing is the same way. Adults want to know how to get published. My answer to that is to write your book first. When you are done, re-write it. Then re-write it again. When you are done with that, find an agent. You pretty much need an agent to get published by a reputable publisher these days. You can find lists of agents at Literarymarketplace.com. Find one that represents books like yours and send them a query letter. They’ll take it from there.
- Which writers have influenced you? What are some of your favorite books?
- Michael’s Answer:
- There’s a pretty long list. Probably the greatest influence on my work was Franklin W. Dixon, the ‘author’ of the Hardy Boys Books. When I later found out that Franklin was part of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, I felt betrayed. But I still loved the books. The pace of those books is breathless; virtually every chapter ends in a cliffhanger. I can definitely see their influence in my work.My favorite book is Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. I also love The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald because I think it has the most perfect closing sentence of any novel ever written: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” No one will ever do it better than that. If I were going to be stuck on a desert island for any length of time I’d take Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, which contains some of the best dialogue ever written. When it comes to children’s books, besides the aforementioned Hardy Boys books, I loved My Side of the Mountain when I was a kid. I must have read it twenty times and I discovered something new each time. Another big influence on me as a kid was Sports Illustrated magazine. I was and am a sports nut, and Sports Illustrated has been the home of some of the best magazine writing ever done. I learned a lot by reading and re-reading some of the articles there.
- Do you find movies and television influence you as a writer? What are some of your favorites from each medium?
- Michael’s Answer:
- Sure. Any medium that tells a story can be a training ground for writers. And movies and television are great for studying dialogue and how it can carry a story. I especially think television gets a bum rap, as there are a lot of very well written televisions shows out there. Buffy, the Vampire Slayer is, in my opinion, one of the best written TV shows ever. But there have been so many good ones: M*A*S*H., Hill Street Blues, Cheers, and some of my current favorites like Supernatural, Heroes and Battlestar Galactica. The thing about any TV show or movie that works well is that it is first and foremost a well told story. When it comes to movies The Princess Bride is my all-time favorite. It’s hilariously funny and well crafted. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is another favorite. But I tend to also like big epic movies like Gladiator and Braveheart where lots of stuff explodes.
- Do you have a specific time that you write?
- Michael’s Answer:
- Not particularly. I write when the mood strikes but I am by nature a night owl, so that’s probably when most of my writing gets done. I’m not one of those “you need to write every day” people. Almost no one with any kind of job that you can think of does it every day. I sometimes think it’s a good thing to take a break from it. Everyone needs to recharge the batteries. Plus I do a lot of what my wife calls “writing in my head” (she says I actually have a “writing in my head” face. I’m not sure if this is a compliment) where I think about stories or plots or characters before I sit down to write them.
- How much revision do you typically do?
- Michael’s Answer:
- Well it depends on how much needs to be done. I tell students that every writer rewrites, no matter who they are. You don’t just sit down and bang out a 600 page novel and that’s it. I do a lot of my own revising and rewriting before I send anything in. Then it depends on your editor. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. One of my techniques is to read what I’ve written from my previous session, and then rewrite and revise it before I move onto the next chapter. It’s a way of getting me back into the voice and the character, and I’ve found it a very useful way to keep going.
- Where do you find the illustrators for your Picture Books?
- Michael’s Answer:
- I’m often asked this question by people who want to write a picture book and have it illustrated before selling it to a publisher. This is backwards from how it is actually done. Most publishers will not buy an ‘already illustrated’ picture book, unless it is written and drawn by the illustrator. The picture book manuscript is bought by the publisher first and then they decide which artist will illustrate it. This allows them to have input into the direction of the art and editorial input into the manuscript. Illustrators prepare sketches and mock ups and story boards of all of their picture books before doing finished art and they go through a revision process just like a writer. If you want to get a picture book published, find an interested publisher first and they’ll contract the illustrator.
Mike’s Career Highlights
2016: The Enemy Above, Michael’s historical novel set in World War II, tells a story based on real events of a group of Ukrainian Jews who survive the holocaust and being hunted by Nazi troops by living in caves for more than 500 days.
2015: Michael returned to historical fiction in Into the Killing Seas, in hardcover by Scholastic Press and a Junior Library Guild selection. Into the Killing Seas tells the story of the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis through the eyes of Patrick O’Donell, a young boy who, along with his brother Teddy is stranded on Guam during World War II. The boys had been separated from the parents who were left stranded on the Philippines. When they learn the Indianapolis is headed toward the Philippines they decide to stow-away. But their plan is ripped apart by two Japanese torpedoes and they are forced to endure the worst disaster at sea in US Naval history. Kirkus Reviews has called it ‘entirely gripping.’
2014: Michael released I, Q The Windy City, another volume in the I,Q series, co-written with Roland Smith. He also published the next two volumes in the Killer Species series, Out For Blood and Ultimate Attack concluding the four book series from Scholastic.
2013: Scholastic, publisher of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games trilogy, launches Michael’s new action packed series Killer Species. The first book, Killer Species: Menace From The Deep launched in Scholastic Book Fairs in January and arrives in bookstores in July. The second book Killer Species: Feeding Frenzy will launch in Scholastic Book Fairs in September. There are currently four books planned for the series.
2012: Michael released his first novel for adults, Blood Riders. A paranormal western, the novel received tremendous pre-publication quotes from New York Times Bestselling author James Rollins who said, “You’re in for the ride of your life!” Blood Riders received universal acclaim from reviewers including the San Jose Mercury News, which called it ‘outstanding’, Booklist said “it’s one hell of a good time! and Publishers Weekly called it ‘delightful’.
2012: Michael once again teamed with illustrator Jeff Weigel for The Monster Alphabet, a picture book featuring Marvin the monster hunter who must travel the world capturing a different monster for each letter of the alphabet.
2011: In 2011 Michael once again collaborated with illustrator Jeff Weigel for another zombie inspired humor book. Jack and Jill Went Up To Kill: The Book of Zombie Nursery Rhymes.
2010: 2010 was a big year for Michael. In February his newest picture book Off Like The Wind!: The First Ride Of The Pony Express was published to universally outstanding reviews. In March came Baseball From A to Z: A Baseball Alphabet another stunningly illustrated picture book. In the fall Michael released The Youngest Templar: Orphan of Destiny, the third volume of The Youngest Templar trilogy. Two more humor books (remember these are rated PG-13) reached shelves: Every Zombie Eats Somebody Sometime: A Book of Zombie Love Songs and Pirate Haiku. Arrgh!
2009: In October, the second book in The Youngest Templar Trilogy, The
Youngest Templar: Trail of Fate was published and the trilogy is now available in twelve countries world wide. Daniel Boone’s Great Escape was a finalist for the Spur Award by the Western Writers of America and chosen by Bank Street College of Education as one of the 100 Best Children’s Books of 2008. 2009 also saw the release of the second book in The Youngest Templar trilogy, The Youngest Templar: Trail of Fate was released in October. His first adult humor book It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Zombies: A Book of Zombie Christmas Carols, was also released in October and spent five weeks on The New York Times Bestseller List.
2008: Michael’s Middle Grade novel The Youngest Templar: Keeper of the Grail is published to international acclaim.
2006: Spy Goddess: To Hawaii, With Love, the second Rachel Buchanan adventure is published. It receives a Starred Review from VOYA which says that “Teens will love the hip language, the non-stop action and the strong characters.”
2006: Spy Goddess: Live and Let Shop is named to the New York Public Library’s Best Books for the Teenage 2006 List and is nominated for an Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery by the Mystery Writers of America. The paperback edition is also named to the American Library Association Popular Paperbacks list.
2005: Michael’s first novel Spy Goddess: Live and Let Shop featuring Rachel Buchanan is published.
2002: Michael’s first book The Legend of Blue Jacket is published.
More About Michael: the Short Bio
Michael Spradlin is the author of over a dozen books for children, some of
which have actually been published. He grew up in a small town in Michigan
not far from the Ohio-Indiana border and spent many hours of his young life keeping
an eye out for “suspicious Hoosier and Buckeye activity.” His early
youth was spent reading hundreds of books, imagining himself as the hero of
several epic battles, and sneaking in fireworks from Canada to indulge his
favorite pastime which was blowing up his collection of plastic Green Army Men
and Matchbox Cars.
Michael Spradlin has never practiced law, dentistry (okay maybe once with a loose
tooth, string and a doorknob) or flown in outer space. In 1978 he managed to
talk his way into college and emerged four years later with a Bachelor’s
Degree in History and no prospects for a real job. He has worked as a field hand,
a newspaper delivery engineer, a lawn maintenance specialist, a bartender, a bookseller,
and has lived in Michigan his whole life except for a two year sojourn to a
Southern state which he refuses to discuss.
Want to know more about Michael? Visit his FAQs
Michael frequently receives requests for publicity photos. The following photo is available for download. Please let us know where you post your article so we can link to it. High resolution book cover images available upon request.
The photo is copyright by Michael P. Spradlin.