26 October 2012

I’ve spent a lot of time in cemeteries lately, since they are the setting of my next book with Penguin, so I’m fascinated with the link between life and death. When my father died, there were so many strange coincidences that happened – like a huge single white lily that bloomed in my garden (I’d never planted it) on his birthday that year, a small silver bell with an angel on top that appeared on his grave, and my Mom’s phone playing “their” song randomly from her playlist without her touching it. Lots of people I know have had similar “communications” from the dead.

I love older houses and we’ve always lived in historic neighborhoods with lots of ghost stories. An electrician who worked on our house once told us about a house he was working on down the street that had a strange cold spot in an upstairs bedroom. None of the workmen wanted to go in there. He rode by at night to show his wife the house, and there was a light on in that room. Since he was the electrician, he knew there was no power in the house at that time!

A student of mine who lived on my block told me his family had lots of company staying with them for his sister’s wedding a couple of years ago. One of the bridesmaids came downstairs to breakfast and said she’d hadn’t slept at all that night. She had a strange dream that there was a little girl with blonde curls, a blue bonnet and a blue velvet coat standing next to her bed. The mother of the bride (who was the owner of the house) started crying. They all looked at her and she said, “I’ve seen that little girl three times.”

When I was in high school, we used to drive out in the country late at night to an old church with a cemetery that was said to be haunted. Some of my friends were brave enough to get out of the car and walk as far as the gates. I never saw the strange lights they saw or heard the weird sounds - but it may have been because I refused to get out of the car. A few months ago I was speaking at a literary festival near there and decided to revisit the site with another writer friend. I was sure I’d be brave enough – as a sane, rational adult – to get out of the car this time. Surely my curiosity as a writer would spur me to investigate the mysterious occurrences people still reported. She and I pulled up in the moonlight to the dark church, car doors locked, and sat talking in low tones while we gathered our courage. It took us about five minutes to decide that neither one of us was getting out of that car. The only sound that night was the squeal of our tires as we headed back to the safety of our hotel rooms.

Title: This Is Not a Drill
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.

Find Beck Online: 

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Order This Is Not a Drill Online:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository

Beck, thanks for being part of this years Haunted Halloween! Loved your stories you've shared with us. Some creepy times for you and those around you, that's for sure.

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  1. Sounds like an interesting read!


  2. At first I thought it said "This Is Not a Test", the book by Courtney Summers, but it's not! Interesting how a bullet hole is going through the glass to the chair. But it makes sense. Poor first graders. Poor soldier. PTSD is an awful thing.


  3. Those were some spooky stories. I especially liked the one with the girl in the blue velvet coat...creepy.


  4. Cemeteries....I just love them. They can be really peaceful during the day. But at night, it's a whole different story.

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  5. Scary that the bride's mom had seen the little girl, too and started crying. You just have to wonder sometimes ... maybe there's ghosts all around us that we never see?! O-o
    Mary DeBorde M.A.D.
    zenrei57 (at) hotmail dot com

  6. Great post! The book looks interesting. I'll need to add it to my tbr list asap. Thanks for sharing =)


  7. This is not a drill sounds extremely scary! If my child was in that room I think I would freak out so bad. I also couldn't imagine my high schooler being in the tutor roll.

    mmafsmith AT gmail DOT com

  8. This book sounds scary, but not in the spooky, traditional way. Thanks for getting it on my radar!



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