POPXO: 17 Books in 2017

POPXO listed We Are Still Tornadoes as one of the 17 books you should read in 2017!

"Scott and Cath have lived across from each other, and have been best friends all their lives. As they grow up they realize the magnitude of change coming their way. As Cath begins college, and Scott stays put, trying to get his band off the ground, they realize just how difficult it was going to be. Both of them have only ever wanted to turn to each other for help and comfort... So the question is, should they be more than friends?"



Anna, of Annaish, Meets Susan Mullen

It's always exciting to meet one of our readers, especially when they've caught the writing bug too!  Anna writes her own blog, which includes reviews of YA lit!  

You can read about Anna's experience at our book signing, as well as her personal review of We Are Still Tornadoes.

Some of our favorite quotes from Anna:

"I was blown away at how unique and heartwarming it was."

"Awesome friendship(s)? Check. Cool references from the eighties? Check. Unique writing style? Check. A cute high school motto that stays till the end of the story? Check. Altogether an amazing story? Check! This one is highly recommended readers!"

"So Susan, if you're reading this, Hi! Again, it was such a pleasure meeting you. You were so lovely and I thank you for your kind words!" (Likewise, Anna!)

Review: Reed Next's Next Reed

We love this review from a personal friend of We Are Still Tornadoes, Reed Next's Next Read.

"It's a marvelous story that rings true, the characters are people you know and grow to love, the '80's references are plentiful and germane to the book, and it deserves to be read and re-read. It made me laugh out loud throughout and it made me cry. As I start to assemble my picks for the year, We Are Still Tornadoes has already found a place on my list. 

Now go get yourself a copy."

Review: Bingeing on Books

Cynthia, of Bingeing on Books, says "buy this one"!

"What a great book!! This was another surprise for me. I don't know if it's because I've been in a reading slump or what, but I have had extremely low expectations for almost every ARC I pick up. But this one was so awesome. I love the letter format, first of all. Cath and Scott have been friends throughout their entire lives and I could feel how much they cared about each other. Letters can be a tricky thing. If they aren't done right, they can prevent you from connecting with the characters. That was not the case with this one. One of the best things about this book was the way each POV was so different and unique. The letters span the length of a year, the year after they graduate high school. Cath is a freshman in college and Scott is working at his dad's clothing store. There were so many issues in this book, like homesickness and divorce and just trying to figure out your life after high school. We can all relate to that, right? I loved their humor and banter and even when they fought, there was just so much respect there. This book also takes place in the 80's and there are a crazy amount of awesome musical references. I was rooting for these two through the whole book and I can't even think of anything I would change. It was such a great contemporary read and though it did have a few moments, most of the book was pretty light and humorous."

Review: Sara of the Novel Novice

Best YA of 2016! - Sara of the Novel Novice

"The publicist for We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen described it to me as being perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell, and I’m inclined to agree. I adored this 1980s-set coming-of-age and coming-together story about two best friends, struggling to find themselves and their place in the world in the year after graduating high school. Cath has gone off to college, and Scott has stayed behind — and their stories are told through a series of letters they write to each other over the course of a year.

Heartbreaking, funny, and sweet, We Are Still Tornadoes delivers a compelling and delightful story about best friends, love, and growing up."

Pushing the Boundaries of YA

It’s been a few years since the New Adult (NA) category made a big splash in the publishing world. Popularized by self-published authors, NA features stories with characters between the ages of 18 and 25, often in a college setting. The plots are fast-paced and emotionally intense and center primarily on romantic relationships.  We Are Still Tornadoes was named by School Library Journal as an option for readers wanting to explore this genre.

We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2016) is a heartfelt story of a long-distance friendship between Cath, who moves away to attend college, and Scott, who stays behind to work after high school, told through correspondence. The story offers teenagers a glimpse at what roommate situations, dating, and family drama look like after high school. Set in the 1980s, it’s sure to appeal to older readers who remember life before instant communication and who will appreciate the musical references with nostalgia.

Review: otherWORDLY endeavors

Thank you to Eve Messenger for her thoughtful review of We Are Still Tornadoes!

"As someone who also grew up with a dear friend of the opposite sex (coincidentally, also named Scott), I appreciate how authentically Kun and Mullen capture the open, honest, sometimes goofy, sometimes flirtatious friendship between a girl and a boy.

Cath, Scott and their shared history are totally believable. Scott is very funny. Cath is more cerebral but can hold her own in the humor department. Both are genuinely good people navigating the turbulent seas of post-high school life. They make mistakes, deal with social faux pas, encounter tragedies, and through it all we root for them."

Review: Lisa's Lost in Lit

We love the beautiful photo Lisa included with her review of We Are Still Tornadoes.  It can inspire anyone to curl up with a good book!

Lisa's Lost in Lit gives a glowing review!

"I’m currently reading We Are Still Tornadoes and it’s so, so good!! I wasn’t sure about reading a book in letter form like this, but I LOVE it!! The letters back and forth are adorable and I love seeing their personalities shine through. So fun!!"

Find another review from Lisa on lostinlit.com:

"Adorable?! YUP!! This story was allllll kinds of adorable. From the hilarious personalities of these two besties, to the 80’s references (which I TOTALLY loved, seeing as I grew up during that time period), down to the way Cath and Scott had the kind of friendship we can only hope for. They weren’t always perfect, didn’t always say the right thing or do the best thing for each situation, but man, they were there for each other when times got tough. (And tough they did get!) I loved the fact that these two, which I loved immediately, had each other to get through life’s troubles. Having someone in your life like that to always have your back is priceless."

The 13 Best YA Books Of November 2016 To Cuddle Up With When The Weather Is Cold

Check us out in Bustle!

"Travel back to the '80s for this love letter to best friendship and growing up (with a killer soundtrack you'll want to blast as you read). Michael Kun and Susan Mullen have created a male-female love story that's far more about the powerful bonds of true friendship than romance (though there is some of that, too), and it feels like a breath of fresh air. Even if you didn't come of age in the '80s, handwriting letters and making mix tapes like Scott and Cath do, you'll relate to the universal *feelings* of struggle growing up and growing apart. The story is told in letters as Scott stays at home pursuing his musical dreams and Cath heads to college."


Interview: Brittany's Book Rambles

We truly enjoyed this interview for Brittany's Book Rambles!

Here are a few fun tidbits:

Brittany: When and how did you guys decide to work on this book together? What inspired We Are Still Tornadoes?

Susan: Mike called me a few years back and we ended up talking about writing and potential projects.  Mike mentioned his idea about the high school friends exchanging letters, and he asked me to write this book with him.  Given that Mike already had 8 or 9 books published, I thought he was a bit crazy to take such a big risk on me. We agreed to give it a shot and if it wasn’t going well, we’d be honest with each other and go our separate ways.  Luckily, it went very well.

Brittany: We Are Still Tornadoes is written in letters between the two main characters, could you share what it was like writing these letters as co-authors and how did you guys go about it? 

Michael: I would agree that it was a great experience, but an unusual one. When I write on my own, it’s not uncommon for me to write 5 or 10 pages in a sitting without even getting up from my chair. Here, the most I could do would be to write one of Scott’s letters, then wait for Susan to send me back the draft of Cath’s response. So there might be days or even weeks when I didn’t write a word because I was waiting for Susan’s contribution. And there were days or weeks when she was waiting for mine. 

Why Wake Forest?

Question:  “Hey Mike and Sue – Why did you guys choose Wake Forest University as Cath’s school in We Are Still Tornadoes?”

Short Answer:  Because we had decided to have the two main characters grow up outside of Baltimore.

Longer Answer That Actually Makes Sense:  Okay, this is going to take a minute to explain.

Mike attended Johns Hopkins University as an undergraduate and later lived and worked in Baltimore for a number of years.  He loves the city and either sets his novels in Baltimore or has his main characters come from there.  It’s kind of his thing.

We may not have even discussed it, but we always knew that Scott and Cath would come from a town outside Baltimore. That was a starting point. And while Cath was headed off to college as the book opens, we didn’t identify Cath’s college at first.  In fact, we didn’t do so until almost half-way through the writing process.  Instead, as we wrote the book, we referred vaguely to her being “in college,” without ever naming the school or even stating what state it was in. 

The more we wrote, the more the idea that Scott and Cath would never mention the name of Cath’s school Cath seemed entirely inauthentic to us. What college freshman wouldn’t mention the name of the school she was attending over the course of dozens of letters? Who would consistently write “Come visit me at my college” or “You would love my college”? And who would write back “I can’t wait to come visit your college”?  No one.

For a very brief time, we toyed with setting the book at a fictional college. But that, too, seemed inauthentic to us. 

By the point in the manuscript that Scott had driven there in less than a day to visit Cath at college, we knew we had created a radius around Baltimore within which Cath’s college would have to be located.

Coincidently, during this time, Sue was visiting colleges with her youngest daughter Haley.  They visited Wake Forest, and (with apologies to Haley for not paying as close of attention as she should have to the tour) Sue had one of those “light bulb moments” when she thought, “I could totally see Cath at this school!”  Not only is the campus beautiful, but it has the national name recognition that we were looking for, and it’s the right distance from Baltimore. And, not incidentally, as an ACC school, both us of were familiar with it.  We had met while studying law at the University of Virginia, and Sue is also a graduate of Duke University, which is not far from Wake Forest in North Carolina.  So, despite the fact that neither of us had attended Wake Forest, it felt like we could make it a comfortable and believable setting for the novel.

Fortunately, Mike has two very dear friends from his time in Baltimore -- Dave and Carol Weymer -- who not only are graduates of Wake Forest, but had attended about the same time as Cath was attending in the book. We sent the manuscript to Dave and Carol, and they helped us to fill in campus-specific details, like the names of the cafeteria and the library, among many other WFU touches, to create a more complete and authentic setting.  We’re really happy with how it turned out, and we hope that the Wake Forest community is, as well.

And that’s the story of how much of We Are Still Tornadoes came to be set at Wake Forest University. 


Review: That Girl Bookworm

From the blog, That Girl Bookworm, we have a rave review!

"So I know I said in my original review I wasn’t going to post anything because I am going to do a video review, I am still planning to do this but I wanted to make a written review for people who don’t necessarily subscribe to my YouTube channel.

So We Are Still Tornadoes is a book that I got sent to me unsolicited from St. Martin’s Press (thank you!!) and boy am I glad I did! This book follows two best friends, Cath and Scott, who are being separated for the first time in their lives. Cath is going off to college and Scott is staying in their home town. This book is a series of back and forth letters to one another over their first year apart and their friendships, the ups and downs in each other’s lives, and how to maintain a friendship from so far apart.

So to start, I say a lot that I don’t really find contemporary a compelling genre. Well I’m starting to eat my words because I absolutely loved this book. I am constantly reading contemporary that’s cute and maybe not something I will pick up all the time, but I like nonetheless. So I think I’ll give this genre a bigger chance and maybe start checking out authors I’ve been hesitant to read.

Anywho, I digress. This book had such a simple plot but it was so cute. I loved reading about the two lives of these characters. They were so distinct and their lives so different that I enjoyed reading it. I also enjoyed the letter style and the relationship these characters had! I think the letter style made me love this book in a way I don’t think I would have if it was a normal novel. I enjoyed that we got the short snippets and the least description possible. Letters also meant that we got a whole years worth of events without the boring stuff and we got as much as possible. I’m not sure if any of that made sense but like yeah trust me the letter style was really the best thing for this!

Characters were the best part. I related to Scott more than Cath for the most part. I felt everything Scott was feeling. I understood him and when he went through hardships I empathized with him a little more than Cath. I loved Cath still but I didn’t empathize with her. I found her a very understanding and forgiving character and while I think those are amazing qualities, I also had moments where I didn’t want her to be so kind. Their relationship was adorable and their friendship was one I wish I had with someone. Overall I just loved them.

Random last snippet, I love that the year was 1982, presumably to have it so the fact that they sent letters instead of emailed/texted make sense. I just enjoyed that little extra detail."