Bestselling Mendon Author Reaches Middle Grade Readers
By Christine Galeone,
New York Times bestselling author Michael J. Tougias has authored and co-authored many riveting true rescue stories. Among his most popular books are Fatal Forecast: An Incredible True Tale of Disaster and Survival at Sea, Ten Hours Until Dawn: The True Story of Heroism and Tragedy Aboard the Can Do and The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue, which was adapted into a Disney film. But in recent years, he’s harnessed his talent for writing fast-paced adventures to create books for kids and teens.
“The best feedback I get is from kids themselves,” Tougias said. “They send me wonderful emails describing what they liked best about the story. Schools also hire me to give presentations.”
That feedback and the success of his True Rescue series for young readers has helped to keep the Mendon author engaged in writing for this new audience. Last fall, Claws, his foray into children’s fantasy, was published. And on February 8, In Harm’s Way, which is part of the True Rescue series, was released.
In Harm’s Way is a young readers adaptation of the New York Times bestseller In Harm’s Way, by Doug Stanton. It recounts the tragic WW II sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and the amazing survival of 316 Navy sailors stranded in frigid, shark-infested water. While Claws also features a perilous sea, the story is pure fiction. A 12-year-old girl attempts to solve a murder mystery in which a giant lobster is the suspect.
The True Rescue series was inspired by Christy Ottaviano, Tougias’ editor at Henry Holt & Company. “We both had the vision to make nonfiction exciting for kids and so constructed the books so that they were fast paced,” Tougias shared. “I had written many survival and rescue books for adults, and realized these were the very kind of books I read when I was 12 years old. So, I set out to write edge-of-your seat thrillers for kids that were all true events.”
Although Claws is a different type of maritime book, there’s another similarity. “I absolutely loved writing Claws and was determined to carry over the fast-paced style I developed for true stories and carry that into this fictional adventure book,” Tougias revealed. “The book had wonderful reviews in three literary magazines, so, I knew I hit my mark of engaging kids in a way that they become so immersed in the story they think it is real.”
Keeping young readers as engaged in reading his books as he is in writing them has another gratifying impact to the author who will venture into the self-help genre in April with the publication of No Will Set You Free. “The comment I often hear goes something like this ‘I’m not much of a reader, but I finished your book in two nights, and now I’m reading the next book in the series.’” Tougias said. “Teachers call those reluctant readers, but I call them picky; they just needed a book that doesn’t get slowed down by too much extraneous information.”