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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. 

2013 Debut Author Bash: Meet Mindy McGinnis, author of Not a Drop to Drink (GIVEAWAY)

Debut Authors Bash at yareads.com

Like many readers, I am obsessed with the apocalypse in any form.  I’m pretty sure my obsession began way back when I read The Stand by Stephen King.  Earlier this year, I was introduced to Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis, a post-apocalyptic thriller that asks us to imagine a world where water is scarce and people are willing to kill for it.  And then one day soon after reading it, they were talking about a nonfiction book entitled Water Wars on NPR. It is possible that one day we may be facing a world not unlike the world that McGinnis imagines in Not a Drop to Drink.  So today, as part of the YA Reads 2013 Debut Authors Bash, we are talking with Mindy McGinnis about her debut ya title Not a Drop to Drink.  Stay tuned for a giveaway at the end.

Mindy McGinnis is an author by night and works in a school library in Ohio by day.  She cans her own food, which should come in handy should the apocalypse ever come. She does have a pond in her backyard.  You can read more about her at her blog Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire (where I stole this picture from). Her debut YA novel is Not a Drop to Drink, coming this month from Harper Teen and I totally recommend it, but since my word has less weight than say author Michael Grant, you should know that he also really recommends it: “A brutally beautiful debut, not to be missed.”

About Not a Drop to Drink
In an all too real future, water is scarce and worth dying to protect.  A girl sits on her roof, binoculars in hand, with her mother.  She can not remember a time from before.  All she knows is this: they must be vigilant because there are those who would do anything to steal their water.  But what is she willing to do to protect it?  Lynn will find out when they start to come.  The signs are there, there is smoke on the horizon.  Strangers are on their way.

September from Katherine Tegen books. ISBN: 978006219850

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Yes! I distinctly remember telling the lady who administered our career assessment tests in 8th grade that I wanted to be a writer. Then my results came back and said I’d be a great cop. Or a museum curator.

How did you come to write a YA novel?

Originally I wanted to write for adults. I have four very miserable and horribly written adult manuscripts under my bed. After years of failing at that I looked around one day and realized that as a YA librarian I was surrounded by my audience 40 hours a week and immersed in the market… why WASN’T I writing YA?

What do you hope teen readers take away from your novel?

There are different levels of NOT A DROP TO DRINK. Someone who comes to it looking for an adventurous read with a strong female protagonist will be thrilled, someone who is looking for big questions about what it means to be human and the cons of isolation will be happy too. J

Would you survive a post apocalyptic world like your book is set in? Have any tips for the rest of us?

Read My Earlier Review

The question of whether or not I’d survive is basically asking if I’d be willing to kill someone else in order to ensure my own survival. And, I just don’t know. I don’t think that’s something you can know about yourself until you’re in the situation. Tips? Learn self-defense, know how to grow your own food, and learn methods of purifying water with natural energy – (hint, SODIS method).

What visions of the future have scared you the most?

This one. It’s an entirely plausible scenario. All of the research I did for DRINK told me to be concerned… very concerned.

Here is a true but funny story.  When I lived in Ohio, it turns out that Mindy lived in the town right next to mine.  We never knew each other.  Ironically, we met after I moved to Texas.  Texas is in a drought, has been since I moved here two years ago.  Everytime I see the dry, cracking grown I think of Not a Drop to Drink, so I made this graphic for Mindy.  You can see it and more on her Pinterest page.
Why do you think post apocalyptic fiction is so hot right now?

I think there’s a lot of doubt in the world right now. I feel like people are questioning and resenting the government, corporations, and political figures more than ever. Seeing characters that stand up to “the man” always makes the little guy feel empowered. In my own book, there is no ruling power – it’s all about straight-up survival. And those stories resonate because I think we all wonder if we could live in a situation like that.

What are you reading and loving right now?

THE GIRL OF FIRE & THORNS trilogy by Rae Carson. Good God, she can write.

What’s next for you as a writer?

Right now, mostly promotion for NOT A DROP TO DRINK. It’s my debut, and I’ve had a TON of support from HarperCollins. I’m throwing myself behind the marketing aspect and focusing on that right now.

What book did they make you read in high school that you simply hated? Loved?

Honestly I didn’t care for To Kill A Mockingbird. I truly didn’t understand what the big deal was. I read it again as an adult and was like, “DEAR GOD this book is AMAZING!!” I think in some ways that book is taught too early. A book I loved… Um, I’m a big nerd. I loved The Odyssey.

What IS your favorite drink?

Truly and honestly, it IS water. I’m an athlete and an outdoors girl, and there is NOTHING like cold water when you need a drink.

Mindy McGinnis is generously giving away 5 swag packs to our readers.  In order to enter to win, please follow the Rafflecopter prompt below.  The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada and ends Saturday, October 5th.

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.)