Ashen Winter Blog Tour

Hi, everyone! We are super excited to be a tour stop on the Ashen Winter Blog Tour today. Stopping by today with a guest post is author Mike Mullin. Ashen Winter is set in a world right after a major natural disaster. There is little food and people are fighting for survival. Read on for Mike's tips on what to do in a fight.

What to Do in a Fight

When I started writing my debut novel, ASHFALL, I realized that Alex, the protagonist, would need some way to defend himself. ASHFALL is about his struggle to survive and find his family after the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts. So I decided that Alex would be a martial artist—that seemed plausible enough, lots of teens are martial artists, some of them are so good they win championships and Olympic medals. The only problem? I didn’t know any martial arts at all.

So I enrolled in taekwondo classes. I figured I’d take a couple months of classes, learn enough to write my novel, and that would be that. Instead, I found I enjoyed taekwondo, stuck with it, and finally earned my black belt just before ASHFALL was released last year.

Now, taekwondo is part of my shtick when I do author visits—at most of them, I break a concrete block with my bare hand. (Yes, really.)

I’m not a self-defense expert. I’m just a writer who’s spent enough time training in taekwondo to earn a black belt. But, for what it’s worth, here’s my advice on what to do if you’re ever in a situation in which you might have to fight: Run away.

If you have a black belt in a martial art: Run away.

If you’re in the middle of an apocalypse: Especially then, run away.

Why? In a real fight, even the “winner” gets hurt. We have a plethora of small bones in our hands that go by complicated names like triquetrum, metacarpal, and proximal phalange. They’re way easier to break than large bones like, say, a skull. If you’re fighting for your life, you’re going to get hurt. And after an apocalypse, medical care may not be available. You could die of something as simple as an infection from a scraped-up hand.

Alex doesn’t always take this advice. And the fact that he doesn’t run away early enough or fast enough very nearly kills him several times in ASHFALL and the sequel, ASHEN WINTER.

Although when Alex does get into fights, he does one thing right—he goes for the groin or the eyes.  If running away is not an option, or if someone is trying to abduct you—take you from a public space to a private one—you should scream your head off and go for the groin, eyes, or fingers.

A solid kick to the nuts can kill a man, or if the opportunity presents itself, grabbing, crushing, and twisting the testes is effective. If your hands are anywhere near an attacker’s face, try digging your thumbs into his eyes. Once he’s blinded, run away. Finally, one of the simplest ways to break a hold is to grab an attacker’s finger and bend it backward until it breaks. The biggest guy in the world could be holding you, and if it’s your whole hand against one of his fingers, you win. Again, the goal is to break the hold so you can RUN AWAY.

I hope you enjoy ASHFALL and ASHEN WINTER. I worked hard to make the self-defense scenes in the book accurate, but remember, it’s just fiction, and Alex doesn’t always respond in the best possible way. If you’re interested in self-defense, sign up for a martial arts class. It’s fun, not too expensive, and you get healthier while you’re learning to fight. If you’re in Indianapolis, drop me a note and I’ll hook you up with two free weeks of classes at my dojang, so you can see if you enjoy taekwondo as much as I do.

Thanks for stopping by, Mike! This is definitely some good advice that I really hope that I never have to use.


It's been over six months since the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano. Alex and Darla have been staying with Alex's relatives, trying to cope with the new reality of the primitive world so vividly portrayed in Ashfall, the first book in this trilogy. It's also been six months of waiting for Alex's parents to return from Iowa. Alex and Darla decide they can wait no longer and must retrace their journey into Iowa to find and bring back Alex's parents to the tenuous safety of Illinois. But the landscape they cross is even more perilous than before, with life-and-death battles for food and power between the remaining communities. When the unthinkable happens, Alex must find new reserves of strength and determination to survive.
The first two chapters are available at

You can purchase the book at the following places:
Autographed Copies
Barnes & Noble
The Book Depository
Thanks for stopping by the tour!

Find Mike Mullin on his website or blog.