by Mike Mullin
Photographs courtesy of Mike Mullin
Kids Ink is nestled in a quaint neighborhood shopping center on North Illinois in Indianapolis, Indiana. My mother, Shirley Mullin, opened it in the middle 1980s while I was spending a year as a foreign exchange student in Brazil. When I returned, I worked at the store for about six years, and still help out occasionally at conferences or special events. I’m a writer today because of the store. When I decided to try my hand at novel writing a few years ago, it was natural that I’d choose to write for young adults since I’ve been immersed in YA fiction for more than thirty years.
The store caters to children: books, games, toys, cards, and bookmarks. There’s a massive wall of books—the elementary fiction section. Kids Ink is a small (1100 square foot) children’s only store, although they do carry titles on parenting and teaching. As a result of their specialization, they easily have the best selection of children’s books in Indianapolis. Want a children’s book in Spanish, Latin, Arabic, or Mandarin? They’ve got that. Poetry? There’s a whole bookcase. Astronomy? The section is near the back door. Dinosaurs? Another full bookcase. Teen fiction, and more bookshelves, and so on. There is a train table—a favorite of the store’s younger patrons. and a wall of new arrivals: books, puzzles, and games.
Mike Mullin's debut novel, Ashfall (Tanglewood, 2012), is about a teen struggling to survive and find his family after the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano. Ashfall was named one of the top five YA novels of 2011 by NPR. It was the first in the Ashfall Trilogy. The second in the series, Ashen Winter (Tanglewood, 2012), was named a VOYA prefect ten winner. The final book in the trilogy will be Sunrise, which Tanglewood will release in 2014.