Michael Mullin shares the specifics of his journey from an almost FBI academy student, to a writer of The Nightmare Before Christmas prequels, to the mastermind behind the TaleSpins series.


ANA: What inspired your TaleSpins (retellings of fairytales) idea? What inspired you to write 8 specifically?

MICHAEL: When I was a copywriter at Disney, it was my task to write for Disney merchandise in a way that was more contemporary and “edgy” (whatever that means). After a product meeting with a team from Japan, I wrote two sequel stories to Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. I met with Burton, and he approved The Nightmare Before Easter and my Valentine’s story/Shakespeare parody titled A Midwinter Nightmare Scream. I left Disney shortly thereafter and came up with Creepy the 8th dwarf as an original follow-up to appeal to the Nightmare audience. The Burton sequels never got published, though, so I forged ahead, sticking to fairy tales (Disney influence I guess…) and came up with the name TaleSpins. (The other thing I did at Disney was branding, so I’m big on that.)

ANA: Okay, so the twisted fairytale idea is great. But why the verse?

MICHAEL: That’s easy. With the Nightmare sequels, I followed the rhyming verse format of Burton’s original picture book (the one that inspired the movie). Because I was continuing on for that same audience, I just kept writing that way. But future stories may not always be like that. (Hint! Hint!)

ANA: That makes sense. But is it particularly hard to write in rhymes? What’s your writing process like?

MICHAEL: I have a sporadic, spare-time-when-I-can-get-it method of writing. The process usually involves coffee or scotch (depending on the time of day. I’ll let your readers infer….). Writing in verse has its challenges for sure, because everything is so sparse, yet has to be rich and meaningful to the story. Much of my editing is combining/condensing story points from, for example, 4 lines to 2 (or even 1!) Another big part is replacing generic rhymes with more interesting ones.

ANA: When you were in high school, did you know that you were going to write stories? What did you want to be?

MICHAEL: High school was when I first was alerted to a “talent” (for lack of a better word), but at that time I had plans to follow in the footsteps of an uncle and cousin who attended the FBI Academy and became agents. I went to college as an Economics major, but switched to English and was more or less focused on writing by my sophomore year.

ANA: Can you tell us 3 random facts about yourself?


1)      I taught both preschool and college.

2)      I have 5 sisters (and a brother).

3)      I went to the same high school as JFK.

ANA: If you could take 5 things with you onto a deserted island, what would they be?

MICHAEL: Assuming a boat is not an option, I’d take a box of books, a lighter, a case of red wine and a corkscrew. After I’d used up those items, I’d rely on my 5th: a serious flare gun.

ANA: Are you currently working on another Talespins story? If so… please give us a teaser!

MICHAEL: Funny you should ask . . . I recently posted the intro to TaleSpins 3, which is titled: Jack’d. Here’s the link:


Comments very welcome.

ANA: I can’t wait to read it! In the meantime, though, I’ll have to rely on your other TaleSpins. Thank you so much for the interview!

You can read my review of Mr. Mullin’s original twisted fairytale, 8: The Previously Untold Story of the Previously Unknown 8th Dwarf, here.


I’ll keep you posted,

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