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The #SVYALit Project: The Specter of Rape in Not a Drop to Drink, a guest post by author Mindy McGinnis

A lot of people ask me about the specter of rape in NOT A DROP TO DRINK. While you’ll never find the actual word anywhere in the text, it hangs over the whole like a storm about to break. Lynn, Mother and Neva all express their fears in different ways, but each one of them is highly aware of the specific threats they face anytime they walk outside.

I’ve caught some flack for this, as well. Do I think that all men are simply waiting for the end of the world so that they can rape indiscriminately? Um, no. Stebbs, Eli, and even the man only referred to as Green Hat are good men who serve as counterpoints to the “bad guys” who wish to control the flow of goods – water, bullets, food… and women.  However, I think it’s very naive to paint a lawless world where some men don’t take advantage of women. In a place where your actions are held in check only by your own conscience there will be theft, murder and rape. 

Recently at a signing I had someone say to me, “It would be horrible to feel like you have to look over your shoulder every time you walk outside.” I definitely agree, but the statement stuck and I turned it over in my head as a I drove home. I look over my shoulder every time I walk outside right now. Maybe it’s hyper-awareness, maybe it’s all the self-defense classes, maybe it’s paranoia. Or – maybe it’s not. 
“Type of men who gather up seven of themselves to attack two women in the middle of the night generally won’t go back for dead friends.”
Mindy McGinnis, Not a Drop to Drink 

Maybe it’s just common sense.

If 60% of rapes are never reported and a whopping 97% of rapists never spend a day in jail, aren’t we already living in a world where this particular crime is dictated by a person’s conscience?
“Just know that there’s bad men in the world, and dying fast by your mother is a better way than theirs.”
Mindy McGinnis, Not a Drop to Drink 

It’s a frightening statistic, and one that makes the relationships between men and women in NOT A DROP TO DRINK even more realistic. Yet, even with this in mind I would not change anything about the book. Mother’s stark isolationism and mistrust is still unhealthy, and men like Stebbs and Eli still exist.

You just have to find them. And always, always be aware of the others.
About Not a Drop to Drink:
Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn’t leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

The companion novel In a Handful of Dust will be released September 23rd by Katherine Tegen Books:
The only thing bigger than the world is fear.

Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already—a house, a man, children, and a water source—and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.

When disease burns through their community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and the prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on an epic journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy fears she could be lost forever, only to disappear in a handful of dust.

In this companion to Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis thrillingly combines the heart-swelling hope of a journey, the challenges of establishing your own place in the world, and the gripping physical danger of nature in a futuristic frontier. 

For the next #SVYALit Project Google Hangout On Air, we’re going to look at what happens when the world falls apart: post apocalyptic and dystopian fiction. 

It’s the End of the World as We Know It, what we can learn about current issues surrounding sexual violence through dystopian/post apocalyptic fiction
Date:September 24th (Noon Eastern)
About Mindy McGinnis:  I’m a YA librarian and author, represented by Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary. My YA debut, NOT A DROP TO DRINK, is a survival tale set in a world with limited fresh water. I’m an avid blogger, posting six days a week to my personal blog, Writer, Writer Pants on Fire, which features interviews with agents, established authors, and debut authors. Learn how they landed their agents, what the submission process is really like, and how it feels when you see your cover for the first time. I also do query critiques every Saturday on the Saturday Slash for those who are brave enough to volunteer. 

Friday Fill-In: Apocolyptic Playlist

This week has been interesting. One of the two water mains broke in my town Monday night, causing us to massively conserve water on Tuesday (it’s now fixed). A storm came through on Tuesday, and knocked down tree limbs that took out my power on Wednesday. I have a teen lock-in tonight into tomorrow morning with 14 teens who have read 65 hours or more using the Beneath the Surface theme, and have zombie books on display (see the picture above). 

And ever since I awoke on Wednesday to the sounds of chainsaws, I’ve had apocalypse music on the brain. Go braaaaain.

So in honor of all the dysoptia, zombie and horror books we love, I give you the Apocalyptic Playlist. I will be using it for Killer Musical Chairs at 3 a.m. on Saturday morning. Any other songs you can think of, share in the comments.

Radioactive by Imagine Dragons
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktvTqknDobU]

Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival
London Calling by The Clash
(Don’t Fear) The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult

The Four Horsemen by Metallica
Uprising by Muse

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8KQmps-Sog]

The Final Countdown by Europe
The End by the Beatles
Til the End of the World by U2
Doomsday Clock by Smashing Pumpkins
Don’t Open until Doomsday by The Misfits
I Will Follow You Into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie
The End by My Chemical Romance
Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden
Carry On My Wayward Son by Kansas

Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne
Dog Days are Over by Florence + the Machine
Let the Flames Begin by Paramore

It’s the End of the World As We Know It by R.E.M. 

For more music fun to share with your teens, check out this list of 30 bands that teens are loving right now on Huffington Post Teen.  Music is a great way to connect.  For the record, Karen is totally obsessed with The Neighbourhood right now, as is her tween.

Also, check out these Apocalypse Survival Tips that we learned from YA lit.

Zombies! All our undead posts in one place

As a zombie fan, I have posted here about zombies multiple times.  In preparation for October, I thought I would put them all in one place for you.  I am very considerate like that.  See, I care about you.  They include fun booklists, programming ideas. and a discussion I had with my then pre-teen daughter about why people like zombies.  She was understandably confused on the issue.

What’s the Deal with Zombies Anyway?

The post in which I try to explain to my then 8-year-old why people would even be interested in reading and watching these scary, decaying creatures that want to eat your brains.  Spoiler alert: it’s only kind of about the zombies.

Reading the Zombie Apolcaypse
A list of amazing zombie reads.  This list is now two years old so you could help us update it by adding your new favorites in the comments.  

New Zombie Reviews:
Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers 
The Infects by Sean Beaudoin
Fire and Ash by Jonathan Maberry
Contaminated by Em Garner
Sick by Tom Leveen 
Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi
Monsters by Ilsa J. Bick
Eat, Brains, Love by Jeff Hart
Inhuman by Kat Falls (Fri)

Fiction Lessons from The Walking Dead by Carrie Mesrobian (coming Wed)

Zombie Prom
Stephanie Wilkes talks about her annual Zombie Prom.  All the cool undead kids are doing it.

TPiB: It’s a Dead Man’s Party
Cool programming ideas you can do in your library whether you are a zombie or just running from them.

TPiB: Bring Out Your Dead, zombie party take 2

Zombies VS. Humans Lock-In, with a Doctor Who twist

Top 10 Survival Tips I Learned from Reading YA
Look, my chances are not good in a post-apocalyptic world.  I like to lie in bed, read a book and drink pop with either my air conditioning or heater on.  I don’t like to cook.  I do not take my indoor plumbing for granted.   Should the apocalypse happen, however, I have learned these 10 tips for survival which I am now going to share with you.  See, even zombie books are educational.

So if you want to talk zombies, leave a comment.  Share your favorite zombie reads, your zombie apocalypse survival tips, programming ideas and more.  And remember, don’t let them eat your brains!

What Will You Do to Survive the Future?

There was a time when NUCLEAR WAR was the thing we feared most.  People built bomb shelters outside their homes and prepared for the day when THE BIG ONE would be dropped.  As a kid, I remember begging to stay up one school night and watch a TV movie called The Day After.  Whatever you do, do not watch this movie. Especially if you are 9 and prone to movie induced fear.

You’ve probably noticed that post apocalyptic fiction is kind of a thing right now.  It can be dystopian, like The Hunger Games or Divergent.  It can have zombies, like the Rot & Ruin series.  Or it can have an environmental theme, like Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis.  What’s that you say, you haven’t heard of Not a Drop to Drink! It’s coming out in September and you should read it.  But let’s get back to the apocalypse for a moment, shall we.

At a recent festival, I listened as Mike Mullin, the author of the Ashfall series (post-apocalyptic with a environmental theme), Lindsay Cummings (the upcoming The Murder Complex) and Jonathan Maberry (author of the very spectacular zombie series Rot & Ruin) discussed how to survive the apocalypse.  They said that one of the hallmarks of the apocalypse is that people learn that they can’t survive on their own.  But if you watch The Walking Dead or have read some of the post-apocalypse books out there, like Monument 14, you also know that your fellow human beings can be the one thing that finally gets you after you survive the zombie plague or whatever happens to be coming.  Take, for example, Monument 14.  Here, a group of teens are stranded in a super mega store, completely locked in by emergency gates, when a couple of strangers come asking to take refuge with them.  There is a part of you that is all, “I should be a nice person and do the right thing and help my fellow humans.”  But sometimes, being nice can bite you in the butt if you let the wrong person in.

Which brings us to Not a Drop to Drink.  In this future, drinkable water is a rarity and Lynn and her mother happen to live in a house with a small pond that provides them with it.  Occasionally, people come around and try to take it.  Lynn has been taught since practically birth that she must guard the water at all costs.  She lives a life of very strict routine that helps assure her survival: gather supplies based on the season, forage close to home, and protect the water at all costs.  But wisps of smoke in the distance mean that everything is about to change.

“Lynn was nine the first time she killed to defend the pond, the sweet smell of water luring the man to be picked off like a barn swallow that dared to swoop in for a drink.” – Opening line

What follows is a look at a fallen world, the tension between doing what we know to be right in this world and a discussion of what would be right in the post apocalyptic one, and an examination of what it means to be a part of this little thing we like to call the human race.  Some people will do despicable things to make sure they are the winner of the race (those people and those scenes are terrifying), others will do the right thing to make sure that more people get to finish the race.  But in this world, the right thing may be different than how you or I would do things today.  And that makes for some amazing tension, subtle chills, and for some very interesting discussion.

Not a Drop to Drink is also a story about relationships and building community in a broken world, especially for a girl who has been taught to think that isolation is the one thing that will keep her safe.  As you read, you can’t help but ask yourself, “what would I do?”  And sometimes, you may find that the answers surprise you.

Lynn has never really known the pre-apocalyptic world.  When our story begins, we are told that Lynn made her first killing to protect the pond at the age of 9.  She has not grown up with the sense of community and hope for the future that most teens have.  This means that when an opportunity presents itself, she approaches it from a very different point of view than today’s teens would.  Survival is the only goal.

“Type of men who gather up seven of themselves to attack two women in the middle of the night generally won’t go back for dead friends.” – page 23

Not a Drop to Drink is much more Ashfall than Hunger Games.  It has a realism that will haunt you, and in that gritty realism you know all too well that the events are unfolding in a way that is much more likely to happen than in The Hunger Games or Divergent.  As a study in the human spirit, and the evil that can live in men’s souls, these more realistic post apocalyptic books can be both more disturbing to read, but they are also a more reliable study and look at unfolding events and the psychology behind them – making them that much more amazing to read.  In many ways, books like Not a Drop to Drink and Ashfall are much more haunting because while I know that I will never have to worry about surviving a zombie plague, it is all too possible that I may have to find ways to survive in a newly primitive, dog eat dog world because of some type of environmental disaster.  Frankly, my hopes for survival are incredibly slim.  But I keep reading books like Not a Drop to Drink looking for survival tips, and for a compelling look into the psychology of us all.

In the end I give Not a Drop to Drink 4 stars for its brutal and unflinching look at survival, haunting tone, and pulse pounding realism. Definitely recommended.

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinniss.  Published by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of Harper Collins.  Coming in September 2013. ISBN: 9780062198501 (I received an uncorrected ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I begged for it actually, and it did not disappoint.)

The post where Jonathan Maberry helps me impress my husband (An Author Interview)

The Mr. will make this shocked face!
The Challenge

This is the true story of how the following post came to be.  Earlier this year, Lois Lowry did a guest post here at TLT and I went home exploding in excitement to my husband. “Who’s Lois Lowry?”, he asked.  So, after realizing that I had failed him as a librarian, I mentioned that she was a 2-time Newbery winning author.  You know, the author of The Giver (it turns out, he has never read it.) So, he looked at me and said, “If you can get Jonathan Maberry to do a guest post, then I will be impressed.”  He obviously is a huge fan of Jonathan Maberry.  And Mr. Maberry was kind enough to help me impress my husband by doing this interview here at TLT.  So thank you!  I promise, I will gloat.

So, to my zombie loving husband, I present you with an interview with Jonathan Maberry. Be impressed!

On Writing, and Reading, Horror
TLT: What draws you to writing horror? And zombies?

Jonathan Maberry. And Jonathan Maberry as a zombie.
JONATHAN MABERRY: I came to horror by several converging routes. As a kid I was partly raised by my grandmother, who was very knowledgeable about what she called ‘the larger world’. She taught me about the myths, legends and (to her) beliefs in supernatural creatures of all kinds. By the time I was old enough to watch my first Hammer Horror flick I already knew about Redcaps, church Grimms, the Russian Liho, the White Ladies of Fau, the loup garou and other critters.

However when I was thirteen my middle school librarian –who was also the secretary for several clubs of professional writers—introduced me to a number of notable genre authors. Two of them –Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson—taught me a lot about the worlds of horror and fantasy. And for Christmas one year, Bradbury gave me a signed copy of SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES and Matheson gave me a signed copy of the 1954 edition of I AM LEGEND.

As for zombies…when I was ten I snuck into the old Midway Theater in Philadelphia on October 2, 1968 to see the world premiere of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. I was terrified and enchanted at the same time. 

On Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse and the Popularity of Zombies

TLT: What have you learned from your books about surviving the zombie apocalypse? What should we do and what should we not do?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I’ve spent more than a reasonable amount of time thinking about the zombie apocalypse since I was a kid. So, by the time I got around to writing about zombies in books like ZOMBIE CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead, PATIENT ZERO, ROT & RUIN and DEAD OF NIGHT, I already had a workable plan.

My first move would be to make some protective gear out of carpet and duct tape. You can’t bite through it –I checked with forensic ondontologists (bite experts). Then I’d grab my wife and my katana, a weapon I’ve been training with and teaching for nearly fifty years, and head out to the nearest food distribution center. Those buildings are huge, they have few windows, they have trucks, they have their own back-up generators and they have enough food and supplies to outwait anything. Using that as a base, I’d round up survivors, a tanker truck of gasoline, more weapons, and we’d start making plans.

TLT: Why do you think zombies are so popular right now?

JONATHAN MABERRY: Aside from the usefulness of zombies as metaphors for telling virtually any kind of threat-based story, the genre has had a bump because writers (screen, TV, prose and comics) have finally learned what makes a zombie story work. And, no, it’s not zombies.  The best zombie stories are about people. Human beings who are in the middle of a massive shared calamity. If you start there, with a story about people in threat, then you can go anywhere you want dramatically.  If, on the other hand, you focus on the zombie, the story often collapses into cliché. As writers…we now get that.

TLT: What books have made you afraid to turn off the light?

JONATHAN MABERRY: There is one book that has always scared the bejeezus out of me, and it still does: THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE by Shirley Jackson. It’s flawless, and it invites the reader to participate in the development of the horror. The other books that continue to give me shivers even after multiple re-reads are ‘SALEM’S LOT by Stephen King, GHOST STORY by Peter Straub, MYSTERY WALK by Robert McCammon, and THE MANITOU by Graham Masterton.
On Turning Your Books into a Movie

TLT: Everyone at TLT is a huge fan of the Rot & Ruin series, I am very excited that it has been optioned and should soon be coming to the movie screen. What is the optioning process? And what role will you be playing in the movie development?

JONATHAN MABERRY: An ‘option’ means that a producer –or in this case, a team of producers and actors—have leased the rights to develop a script and shop it around in order to raise funds. Once they have a commitment from backers, then they buy the film rights and go into active production.

As for my involvement in the film version of ROT & RUIN, that’s still to be determined, though the producers, actor (who will play Tom Imura), and screenwriter are in frequent touch with me. We have long, rambling creative discussions by phone. And I can tell you this much…so far they seem to see the story the same way I do. Granted a 90-minute movie is not going to include everything that’s in the book, but the version they’re constructing seems to be very much in keeping with how I imagine the film.

On Guys and Reading

TLT: As a teen librarian, it seems like we are often asking ourselves “how do we get teen guys to read?” What type of a reader were you as a teen? What really moved or entertained you? How do you incorporate who you were as a teen reader into writing for teens today?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I was always a reader. Except for when I was with my creepy grandmother I had a rather horrible childhood. Books were my escape, and I read absolutely everything. By the time I was in fourth grade I was reading Ed McBain, Robert E. Howard, Sheridan Le Fenu, Robert Bloch, and others. In the sixties and seventies I burned through everything by Edgar Rice Burroughs, all of the Bantam Books reprints of Doc Savage, John D. MacDonald, and anyone else I could get my hands on.  Reading was not my challenge in school. Math was my kryptonite.

Now, understand…I knew I wanted to be a writer since before I could actually read. When I was little I told stories with toys. So reading was a natural part of that. However I also read an enormous amount of nonfiction. I liked knowing the nuts and bolts behind something. So, if I real a cop novel, I’d then read true-crime books. If I read science fiction I’d look for books and articles on rocketry, robotics, space exploration, and so on.  I guess I’m still like that.

When I meet teens who are ‘reluctant readers’, I usually spend some serious time finding out what they’re interested in. If they don’t want to pick up a novel, I recommend comics, audio books, and even movies. Particularly movies based on books. If they dig the movie, they’re more likely to want to back-track to see the original story.

I don’t know if my reading habits influence the way I write for teens, but it certainly gives me a basis for good conversation with teens. I ask what they’re reading and we discuss those books and soon we’re geeking out on books in general.

TLT: What do you wish teen guys knew about reading?

JONATHAN MABERRY: Reading is power. Reading gives you power and helps your power to grow. Since I had a rough home life, I had no role models worth following. I learn my core values from comics and novels. I tell kids that. I also explain that I’m largely self-educated. Sure, I went to college, but I know far more about life, the world, and my place in it because of the thing I chose to read rather than books that were assigned to me. I talk to teen boys about what strength, courage and toughness really mean, and I can draw on examples from fiction and nonfiction.  And I explain how knowledge allows you to imagine solutions and opportunities that can help you out of any tough spot. That’s been a great basis for meaningful conversations with teen guys and me.
For more on guys and reading, see Show Me How to Live and visit Guys Read

TLT: Rot & Ruin is my go-to recommendation for a wide variety of readers, including guys. Thank you for that, by the way. What would be some other great recommendations?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I love Dan Wells’ books, particularly I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER. Brilliant. Naturally S.E. Hinton’s books are timeless classics. James Dashner’s MAZE RUNNER books. Markus Zusak’s THE BOOK THIEF.  LOOKING FOR ALASKA by John Green. THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO by Patrick Ness. Anything by Garth Nix. And, I recommend that boys read up. Read Stephen King’s THE STAND or THE DARK TOWER Series. Grab Roger Zelazny’s brilliant CHRONICLES OF AMBER or Frank Herbert’s DUNE.

But I also recommend to teen guy readers to occasionally pick up books that are popular with girls. When you read what they read, it’s easier to understand how they think and feel.

On What’s Next

TLT: Will Rot & Ruin be getting the graphic novel treatment?

JONATHAN MABERRY: Once the movie is actually getting close to release we’ll probably do something with a comic or graphic novel. We’re also discussing a video game, and a collectible card game based on the Zombie Cards.

On Visiting Schools and Libraries

TLT: I would love to sit down and talk with you about the characters and situations in Rot & Ruin, but I don’t want to overwhelm you with questions or get to spoilery. But I know you have done school and bookstore visits, what does an author get from doing these type of visits and interacting with readers? And do you have a school or library visit that you would like to share?

JONATHAN MABERRY: Visiting schools is such incredible fun. They’re all different because kids are different, and because schools have their own personalities.  Usually, though, I talk about my own rather weird path and some of the things I’ve done and experienced. You never know what’s going to connect with the teens who come to hear you talk. Sometimes it’s my background in martial arts that opens the door. Sometimes it’s my anecdotes about being a bodyguard in the entertainment industry (and being shot at, stabbed and run over!). Or being a singer/songwriter in the world heavy metal band in the history of bad music. Or writing for Marvel Comics. Or whatever. I talk and I allow questions right from the jump. We always have a good time.

Usually at least one kid in the audience will ask a challenging question in hopes of putting me on the spot. But I always respect the question and the questioner. And often that’s the point at which we dive deep into a real conversation.

I love school library visits. I’ve been doing them all over the country and it’s my favorite part of being a writer in the Young Adult genre.

Teen Librarian Toolbox: And finally, don’t you want to say “neener neener” to my The Mr.? (I am just kidding with this one 🙂 )

JONATHAN MABERRY: Dude…you didn’t think your wife could snag an interview with me. But, hey…check it out.  (Haven’t you learned that wives have super powers?)

Thank you so much to Jonathan Maberry for this moment.  We are huge fans at my house AND at my library, and I really did want some pointers on surviving the zombie apocalypse.

Jonathan Maberry is the New York Times bestselling and multiple Bram Stoker Award winning author of multiple novels for teens and adults, including the Rot & Ruin series and Joe Ledger series.  If you haven’t read them, check them out.  You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanMaberry.  You can also “like” him on Facebook.

All the places Jonathan Maberry is mentioned on TLT:
Book Review: Rot & Ruin
Book Review: Flesh & Bone
Reading the Zombie Apocalypse
What’s the Deal with Zombies Anyway?
Top 10 Tips for Surviving the Apocalypse

Please feel free to leave a comment telling Jonathan Maberry how much you love his books.  Or to leave The Mr. a “neener neener” in the comments.