Thomas Mullen is a novelist who lives a deceptively quiet life not far from downtown Atlanta. While minivans drive by and dogs bark and the locals are unsuspecting, he commits murders, spins wildly convoluted conspiracy theories, travels through time, reinvents the past, resurrects the dead, falls in love with women of his own invention, imperils young children, unleashes plagues, wages war, saves lives, dangles participles, and invents new metaphors. Most of his sentences contain verbs.
His three published novels, though similar in some regards (they were all written in English, and read from left to right, and are awesome), are also quite different. This has confused some people and delighted others. He apologizes to the former and thanks the latter. The confusion part is due to the fact that, because he likes to read so many different kinds of books, he therefore wants to write many different kinds of book.
His first novel, The Last Town on Earth, is set in Washington State during the 1918 flu epidemic and World War One. It was named Best Debut Novel of 2006 by USA Today and was awarded the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for excellence in historical fiction. Which apparently means that it is a work of historical fiction, if you're into labels. It has become a popular choice for college's One Book programs, in which impressionable freshpersons are forced to read the same book before coming to campus. Which means that it is also homework. The novel's film rights were optioned by DreamWorks, but during a corporate shake-up they forgot to make the movie, and there are only slightly hard feelings about this.
His second novel, The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers, tells the mythic tale of Depression-era bank robbing brothers who, if the stories can be believed, keep coming back to life the mornings after they're shot dead. It was called "magic noirism" by the New York Times Book Review, so apparently it was magical realism and hardboiled noir. It also was historical, taking place in 1934. Parallels between the Depression setting and our current economic funk are unintentional, as it was written while the author was gleefully riding the housing bubble.
The latest novel, The Revisionists, is not historical, taking place in contemporary Washington, DC. One of the characters is a former CIA agent (thus, an espionage novel), another is a time traveler (thus, sci-fi), and a third is grieving over her brother, a soldier killed in Iraq (thus, a character-driven, politically aware literary novel). The book made at least one newspaper's "best sci-fi of the year" list, which is an honor, if also slightly weird, since the author honestly doesnâ€™t know much about sci-fi, not that there's anything wrong with sci-fi.
His books have been named to other Year's Best lists, by such publications as The Chicago Tribune, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, USA Today, The Onion, The San Diego Union-Times, Atlanta Magazine, Paste Magazine, on Amazon.com, and on various blogs.
Mullen has noticed that, contrary to what you'd think, he is more productive and writes much better on beautiful, sunny days, when the temptation to blow off work is great, but he manages to overcome it. Gray rainy days are harder to write through. Thus, he is happy to live in the South, even though he misses New England, and in particular Rhode Island, where he was born and raised. He graduated from Oberlin College, and though he very much enjoyed it, he does not miss northern Ohio weather, not even a little.
He has two wonderful sons and an amazing wife.
The best books he read in 2011 were, in fiction, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin, The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach, Feed by M.T. Anderson, The City & The City by China Mieville, and Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin, and, in nonfiction, Common Ground by J. Anthony Lukas, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, and Dr. Seuss and Mr. Geisel by Judith and Neil Morgan.
Thanks very, very much for visiting this site, and for reading the books.