When Mendon’s author, Michael J. Tougias, was growing up, his house, he says, was filled with books. Her father, Arthur Tougias, was an avid reader of history books and her mother, Jerri, loved novels. He read a lot of books, and the ones he liked best were adventure stories.
And that’s what he’s writing now.
Tougias, 64, is the co-author of “The Finest Hours” and “Above and Beyond” and author of “Fatal Forecast” and “A Storm Too Soon” – among others. He has launched a new series of books aimed at average readers (ages 8-14) called “True Rescue Series”.
Tougias works with Christy Ottaviano Books at Henry Holt Publishers and together they publish and develop several books. “Into the Blizzard: Heroism at Sea during the Great Blizzard of 1978”, which was released on December 12, is an adaptation of Tougias’ adult book “Ten Hours Until Dawn”. The previous two books published in the series were also adaptations of Tougias’ adult survival and rescue stories: “The Finest Hours” and “A Storm Too Soon”.
The three books were Scholastic Selections and Junior Literary Guild Selections.
His mission is to ignite the passion for reading he had as a student among young adults. “These stories are about real flawed heroes – not superheroes from the movies,” he said.
In 2020, these same stories will also be available in chapter books, intended for readers aged 5 to 8.
The next books in the series are two books on WWII. The first is Tougias’ co-authored book “So Close To Home,” about a family surviving a submarine attack in the Gulf of Mexico; the second is a book written by another author that Tougias adapts for the series. This book is about the USS Indianapolis, which was involved in the worst disaster in American naval history.
He and the publisher are looking for character-driven survival and rescue stories, and each book has to be completely different from the others in the series.
The “True Rescue Series” is not fiction and may include both recent events such as “A Storm Too Soon” (2007) and older events such as “The Finest Hours” (1952) and “Into the Blizzard “(1978). The author has probably researched over 100 rescues; the one in “A Storm Too Soon” was the most difficult – even the lifeguard had to be rescued due to 80-foot waves.
“Because books for intermediate readers are shorter, knowing which sections to trim is critical,” said New York Times bestselling author and former columnist for The Republican. “I’m careful not to delete or even condense anything that propels the story forward. The chapters build on each other as the reader becomes more involved in the characters and the main story. So I learned to condense information that is not crucial to the unfolding of the story while shortening the side stories.
Before high school, Tougias was not a good student, he admitted, adding that he was a “wild child” as his mother put it, often getting into trouble. But as he read for the pleasure of real people who had done extraordinary things, he learned that he could still have fun without being impulsive.
He is currently writing a book about growing up and spending every free minute in the woods or on the water and how his relationship with his father was difficult until they suffered a family tragedy.
Her mantra when writing these books is to “make them fast and on the edge of your seat”. Yet the richness of detail is essential, and he tries to combine these elements to give the reader a sense of ‘you are there’.
“Finest Hours” and “A Storm Too Soon” are now in paperback and retail for $ 7.99. “Into the Blizzard” is hardcover and sells for $ 19.99.
Tougias gives lectures across the country on each of the subjects of his book. He also offers leadership / inspiration programs for business groups and has addressed businesses and organizations.
For more information and a list of his speeches, visit michaeltougias.com