Author: Beck McDowell
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books, 224 Pages (October 25th, 2012)
Add to: Goodreads
Synopsis: Two teens try to save a class of first-graders from a gun-wielding soldier suffering from PTSD
When high school seniors Emery and Jake are taken hostage in the classroom where they tutor, they must work together to calm both the terrified children and the gunman threatening them--a task made even more difficult by their recent break-up. Brian Stutts, a soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq, uses deadly force when he's denied access to his son because of a custody battle. The children's fate is in the hands of the two teens, each recovering from great loss, who now must reestablish trust in a relationship damaged by betrayal. Told through Emery and Jake's alternating viewpoints, this gripping novel features characters teens will identify with and explores the often-hidden damages of war.
Beck, thanks for joining us today. I’m always excited to visit with authors here on my blog. Thank you for taking the time out to do this interview.
For those out there who haven’t read This Is Not a Drill, would you tell everyone a bit about the book?
Thank you for helping me tell others about my book! THIS IS NOT A DRILL is about two teens who are tutoring in a first grade classroom when a soldier, home from Iraq and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress, tries to check out his son. When he’s denied access because of a custody battle, he pulls a gun and takes the class hostage. Emery and Jake have to work together to try to protect the children, which is difficult because of their recent messy break-up.
The story deals with a sensitive subject matter, what was the hardest part in researching for the story and then in writing it?
I think the character of Brian Stutts (the gunman) was the hardest to write. He’s obviously the villain, and this is an indefensible thing he’s doing, but at the same time, I wanted the reader to sympathize with what he’s been through in war and the devastating losses he’s facing. We have a generation of young men and women returning from Iraq and we can’t underestimate, as a society, the physical and psychological toll war takes on those who’ve witnessed horrific violence and had to make hard decisions to insure their own safety and ours.
What was the most important part for you in telling Emery, Jake and Brian’s story?
In addition to an awareness of how difficult the transition is for returning soldiers (mentioned above),also maybe that all of us have within us the power to do heroic things. I think we all wonder how we’d react in a crisis. Emery rises above the physical limitations that have caused her to have panic attacks in the past and overcomes her natural shyness to reach out to the soldier. Jake reins in his anger and his tendency to lash out because he knows any risky reaction could bring harm to Emery and the children. All of us hope we’d have the courage and the wisdom to use good judgment in an emergency, and they set a good example for that, despite the difficulty of their own strained relationship and the baggage each of them brings to the situation.
And what do you hope readers take away from their story after reading?
I think high schoolers sometimes underestimate their own power. While I was teaching, I saw my students quietly going about the business of changing the world. They tutored children, built houses for the homeless, cleaned up roadways, ran races and washed cars for charities, served food in soup kitchens, collected cans for food pantries, volunteered at community clinics, wrote to soldiers – I could go on and on. Just as Emery and Jake played a major role in the resolution to this story, middle and high schoolers can make such a difference in the lives of others when they care enough to give generously of their time and energy.
Lastly, can you tell us any plans you have coming up? What you’re working on now?
I've just sold another young adult book to Penguin and will be beginning the editing process with my amazingly talented editor, Nancy Paulsen. It’s set around New Orleans cemeteries but it’s not paranormal . . . well, okay, there might be a touch of magical realism here and there. I’m also researching my next book, but I’m not far enough along in the process to say much about it yet. I’m spending a good bit of time on the road, talking in schools (which I LOVE ‘cause I've missed it) and at conferences and book festivals. I’m also having a great time meeting other authors and learning from them. The writing process is pretty isolating, so being able to connect at events and online is really helpful. I’m often on Twitter at @beckmcdowell and you can find me on Facebook as well; I’d love to hear from your readers after they've read THIS IS NOT A DRILL!
Beck has helped to set up a pretty epic site - It's called Not Required Reading and can be found >>>HERE<<< - Check it out! It's "book reviews for high schoolers by high schoolers".
Pretty amazing, right?
Find Beck Online:
Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook
Order This Is Not a Drill Online:
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository
Check out the rest of the dates for the
This Is Not a Drill Blog Tour
Thursday, Oct. 25 - CYNTHIA LEITICH SMITH http://www.cynthialeitichsmith.com/
Friday, Oct. 26 - A LIFE BOUND BY BOOKS http://alifeboundbybooks.blogspot.com/
Monday, Oct. 29 - THE STORY SIREN http://www.thestorysiren.com/
Tuesday, Oct. 30 - YA BLISS http://www.yabliss.com/
Wednesday, Oct. 31 - BUZZ WORDS BOOKS http://www.buzzwordsmagazine.blogspot.com.au/
Thursday, Nov. 1 - YA LOVE BLOG http://yaloveblog.com/
Friday, Nov. 2 - ICEY BOOKS http://www.iceybooks.com/
Monday, Nov. 5 - NERDY BOOK CLUB http://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/
Tuesday, Nov. 6 - THE NAUGHTY BOOK KITTIES http://naughtybookkitties.blogspot.com/
Wednesday, Nov. 7 - THE COMPULSIVE READER http://www.thecompulsivereader.com/
Thursday, Nov. 8 - TEACH MENTOR TEXTS http://www.teachmentortexts.com/
Friday, Nov. 9 - CONFESSIONS OF A BOOKAHOLIC http://www.totalbookaholic.com/
Monday, Nov. 12 - KATIE’S BOOK BLOG http://www.katiesbookblog.com/
Tuesday, Nov. 13 - ALLURING READS http://www.alluringreads.com/
Wednesday, Nov. 14 - PAGE TURNERS BLOG http://www.pageturnersblog.com/
Thursday, Nov. 15 - MY BEST FRIENDS ARE BOOKS http://bestfriendsrbooks.wordpress.com/