Riffle Backstory: Q&A with Mindy McGinnis, Author of 'Not a Drop to Drink' and 'In a Handful of Dust'


You go to the kitchen and get a glass of water from the faucet, or maybe the pitcher in your refrigerator. You go to the bathroom to wash your hands, you take a shower, you flush the toilet. Everything around us is water, whether we are conscious of it or not. What if there was no water? What if water was as precious as gold and you had to fight or maybe die to defend what was yours? This is the world of Not a Drop to Drink, a harsh story set in a dystopian world where water is the most precious thing. Author Mindy McGinnis joins us to talk about what went into this amazing story.

When was the moment you realized you wanted to be a writer?

I clearly remember taking one of those tests that is supposed to measure your strengths and fit you to a career in 8th grade. I told the proctor I wanted to be a writer. The test said I should be a cop.

What is the strangest thing you've learned or done while researching for this book?

I looked into how to filter your own urine for drinking purposes, but luckily it never came to that for my characters. Or me, for that matter.

What scene in your book was the most memorable to write?

I think when Lynn, my main character, meets her neighbor Stebbs in person for the first time. She'd never spoken to another human being other than her mother for her entire life, so for me it was this huge moment of nerves for her. She doesn't know whether to shoot him or say hi. Hell, she probably doesn't even know the word "hi."

If you could pick one of your secondary characters for a spin-off series, who would it be and why?

Probably Mother. To tell the story of what the world was like when the Shortage actually occurred, and how she became the hard woman she is when we meet her as Lynn's mother. Also, Mother's story ties into Stebbs' story, and he's my favorite character. Writing the two of them as younger people would be fun.

What is your favorite quote from your book?

"I'd rather shoot people in Ohio than walk to California."

What has been your favorite moment in your career so far?

I actually had someone quote my own book to me at a signing, which was a huge moment because they and memorized it, which meant something. Even cooler was the fact that this was an adult male, and he was quoting a line from a male character... so I knew I'd nailed my males. (Ahem, the fictional ones).

BONUS: Which character in your book is most like you?

Oh they're all a little bit me, the good bits, and the bad bits all mixed together. I think most authors would agree with that. We can take our worst and best qualities and give them their own flesh to work their issues out in.

Not a Drop to Drink is available now from Katherine Tegan Books, and the companion novel In a Handful of Dust, will be released September 23, 2014.

Not a Drop to Drink has been optioned for film by Fickle Fish Films, the production company known for the film adaptations of Stephanie Meyer's The Host and Shannon Hale's Austenland.