Interview with Mindy McGinnis + INT Giveaway

NotaDroptoDrink InaHandfulofDust AMadnessSoDiscreet

There is no other author I know that can wreck your heart and destroy your dreams of love as well as Mindy McGinnis. Her prior novels, Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust are gripping, raw and heartbreaking. With these companion novels, Mindy created a world lacking in water and characters that epitomized survival. These two novels were startling and terrifying because of the ease in which the reader can visualize and imagine our (not so distant) future without access to water.

Next month Mindy will be venturing into a new genre, a historical thriller, with her novel: A Madness So Discreet. I’m beyond excited to read this…check out this little tidbit from the summary on Goodreads:

“In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us.”

Today I am honored to have Mindy here to answer questions about her books and give us some insight into what we can expect with A Madness So Discreet

Interview

I was incredibly impressed with the depth you went into with portraying how life would be in a world with little water in Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust. You explained water purifying techniques and dowsing for water as well as firing rifles and traveling miles over land. What type of research did you do to learn so much about these subjects and to approach them so realistically?
The honest answer is that a lot of those things were just part of my childhood. I live in an extremely rural area, and I grew up knowing how to handle firearms safely. When someone was getting ready to build a house, you called a dowser to see if there was a legitimate water source to tap into. It’s just how we live. The purifying techniques involved in both DRINK & DUST were definitely research based. I strive for realism. The method from DRINK involving plastic water bottles and exposure to the sun is called the SODIS method. You can read more about how it works in the paperback of DRINK, which has an essay from me in the extra content about the science behind it.

Did you experiment with any of the survival techniques you wrote about?
I do garden and can a lot of my own food, so that’s all speaking from experience. I also own a pond, but I’ve never drank from it, SODIS method or not. But if I HAD to – of course. And as a matter of principle I always inform people that I’ve never shot anyone. I think that’s an important baseline to establish.

From the summary your next novel looks to focus on mental illness and criminal psychology. I can’t tell you how excited I am to see you explore both of these topics. Can you tell us a bit more than the summary provides us about your story?
Sure! I’m very excited to get A MADNESS SO DISCREET out to my readers. My main character, Grace, has been a victim of abuse in her home, and is pregnant as a result. She’s from a wealthy, politically influential Boston family, so it has to be swept under the rug. In the Victorian era, inconvenient pregnancies were sometimes handled by sending the girl into an insane asylum until the delivery of the baby, explaining away their absence by saying they were abroad. This is Grace’s fate.

She’s been cursed with an eye for detail and infallible memory, along with a mother who won’t listen to the truth. When we meet Grace she’s a selective mute in the asylum, having given up on language after it failed her. Asylum conditions are… pretty horrible. Grace loses her child, finds her voice in a burst of violence that lands her in the darkest corners of the asylum, and there meets a young doctor who spots her talent, knowing it will be influential to him as he moves into a new career dabbling in criminal psychology (criminal profiling).

He helps her escape the asylum, and effectively removes her from the reach of her father. But faking insanity in order to live as an inmate at the Ohio asylum where the doctor works takes a toll, and she starts to question how much of her act is a farce. Combined with dark nights chasing killers – and one in particular who is targeting young women – Grace has to struggle with the fact that the life she’s escaped to isn’t exactly beautiful… and she kind of likes it that way.

Could you tell us a bit about the research you did about the asylum that helped inspire your setting, Athens Lunatic Asylum?
As an aside- you MUST check out Mindy’s Pintrest board here.
I researched for an entire year before writing a word of this book. There was much to learn – the beginnings of criminal psychology, the history of asylum medicine (both the good and the bad), and of course historical details in general. What kind of lighting would be in a room in 1890? What would an asylum inmate be wearing? I’m very particular, and there were days when I couldn’t finish a sentence without doing half an hour of research in order to make sure I got it (hopefully) right.

The specific setting – the Athens Lunatic Asylum in Ohio – has an amazing history. You can do a quick Google and learn about how it’s one of the most haunted places in the world and hear horror stories about the graveyard. And while I’m a fan of the supernatural, I’m also a fan of data. That type of history doesn’t interest me, because most of it quite frankly, just isn’t true.

The Athens asylum was actually an amazing model of humane treatment for the insane. If you were crazy (or just unlucky enough to be deemed so) in 1890, it was a good place to land. One of my best resources for the history of the asylum was Asylum On The Hill: History of A Healing Landscape, by Katherine Ziff. If you’d like to learn more about the actual history of the Athens Lunatic Asylum give it a shot.

I also toured the buildings, which are now part of the Ohio University campus. You can’t go into the patient wards for safety reasons (they are literally crumbling), but some parts of the building are currently in use as staff offices as well as an art gallery. The gallery is open to the public, and when you visit you can see original floors, staircases and woodwork from the insane asylum years. Definitely hit up my Pinterest board if you want to see some pics from my tour!

You can most definitely repost some of my pics from Pinterest, just make sure if you use any of the older ones that you use the attribution that I did, b/c some of those actually belong to University Archives.

Grace Mae, your main character, is battling with mental illness- did this make it more difficult to write her character?
Ha – no. It made her much, much easier to write than a person with no issues at all. Those people don’t exist.

Criminal psychology is a fascinating practice- how has it changed over the years and what resources did you use to incorporate it into your story?
What’s interesting is how some things have changed – and some really haven’t at all. Methods of crime can change, but motivations essentially don’t. We’re just as human now as we were in 1890. Some of the crime solving methods from back then were incredibly spot on even today, while others are just not. And just like today, people argued within their own fields about what was and was not accurate. Phrenology, for example is something that comes up in the book.

Do you listen to music while your write or for mood setting inspiration? If so what type of music did you listen to while plotting/writing A Madness So Discreet?
I usually don’t, although sometimes that can change from book to book while I’m writing. With MADNESS I definitely did not. I had to be very conscientious of every detail while writing this book. There was no “flow” with this one. It was work. Every word. No room for distractions.

You wrote your prior books in third person, is AMSD also in third person?
It is. I don’t plan my books at all, so I don’t walk into any book knowing how it will be narrated. I just let the first line happen, and that usually dictates person and tense.

Is A Madness So Discreet a standalone, series or will there perhaps be a companion novel?
As of right now it is a standalone. But I’m alarmingly ready to revisit this dark nasty world.

Can you tell us anything about what you’re working on next?
I do have a book coming from Katherine Tegen in 2016. It is a dark contemporary… and guess what? It’s a multiple POV in first person

About the Book

AMadnessSoDiscreetA Madness So Discreet
By: Mindy McGinnis
Release Date: October 6th 2015 
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books 

Summary:
Grace Mae knows madness.

She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.

When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

Giveaway

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Interview with Designer Erin Fitzsimmons + Giveaway (INT)

CruelBeautyInaHandfulofDustnewbirdnewbird

Since I’ve begun my blogging adventure I’ve become more and more interested in the people and process behind creating the beautiful covers that help to draw my attention. I’ve interviewed a couple of artists and wanted to see things from the designer’s prospective. …

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Best of 2013 Giveaway Hop-International

bestof2013

December 18 marks my one year anniversary of book blogging. I’d say I jumped in on an amazing year of books with some of my favorites releasing. I had to join this giveaway hop to share with you, my readers, some of my favorites along with the chance to win one. This is an international giveaway and you can request and earlier book in the series if you would like to. I’ve selected all of my 5 star reviews for books that released in 2013. Click on the title to read my review.

  World After (Penryn & the End of Days, #2)These Broken StarsThe Bone SeasonScarlet by Marissa Meyer
World After by Susan Ee, These Broken Stars by Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman, The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

 In the Shadow of BlackbirdsCrown of MidnightNot a Drop to DrinkThe Burning Sky
In the Shadow of Catbirds by Cat Winters, Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas, Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis, The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

 The Dream ThievesSiege and Storm
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater and Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

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Showcase Sunday #25

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea where you show what books you’ve purchased, gotten from the library, received from giveaway, as gifts or for review.

Purchased:
All of these were purchased at the Austin Teen Book Festival-you can see pics and small recap here. I have read and reviewed each of these. You can read my review by clicking on the title.
Not a Drop to DrinkThe buring SkyThe Dream Thieves

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis, The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas, The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Won (thank you Derek Silver)

I have been trying everything in my power to get my hands on an arc of Rebel Spring, I sent in an email request (no response), requested on Edelweiss (a few times–all declined) and I’ve entered a lot of giveaways. Finally, finally I won a copy. I was overjoyed! I plan on reading it next month. Derek, being awesome, threw in a couple of other books as well.
Rebel SpringThe Way We FallCountdown
Rebel Spring
by Morgan Rhodes, The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe and Countdown by Michelle Rowen aka Morgan Rhodes

What did you get last week? I’m thinking I won’t be getting very much in the upcoming weeks because I have so many books I need to read I’ve stopped requesting.

Be sure to check out my GIVEAWAY (INT)- Winner chooses a book from Book Depository

Review of Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Not a Drop to DrinkNot a Drop to Drink
By: Mindy McGinnis
Release Date: September 24th 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pre-Order:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

My Rating:
star

I read Not a Drop to Drink with my reading group Krys from Bibliopunkk and Jon from Scott Reads It. There’s nothing like reading a great book with friends.

Summary (via Goodreads):
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 Story:
For this being targeted at young adults I was impressed with the gritty nature of Not a Drop to Drink. McGinnis doesn’t hold back in creating a world full of violence, desperation and the need to survive at any cost. The writing flowed smoothly and the descriptions were vivid enough to really transport the reader. Throughout my entire reading experience I felt gripped by anxiety and fully immersed in Lynn’s life and struggles.

The prospect of a world deprived of our most needed necessity, water, was haunting and eerily possible. Isolation and survival in the face of misfortune were major themes yet as the story progressed the tone changed to encompass hope and love. I was blown away with how smooth the transition took place before my eyes; no aspect of this book felt choppy or unplanned. From the beginning to end I felt complete faith in McGinnis’ storytelling and her ability to complete Lynn’s journey.

The Characters:
Not a Drop to Drink was one of the most impressive character driven novels I have read. I can’t recall the last book that had as seamless growth of the main character as this book had. Lynn starts out completely influenced by her mother and her alone. Her world is totally reliant and shaped by her home, their lake and her mother’s rules. McGinnis shapes and molds Lynn to adapt to her situations and the people she encounters. Her character’s growth is fueled by her experiences and is incredibly realistic and expertly done.

The secondary characters were not forgotten, McGinnis gave them all backstories and unique world views. I felt that I knew each of them and became attached fearing for their safety and outcome. I found it fascinating to think about how different personalities and situations would shape a person to handle a world so far removed, yet completely plausible, to our own.

Final Thoughts:
Not a Drop to Drink would be considered a dystopian or survival tale but this novel stands apart from the rest because of it’s incredible characters and unique atmosphere similar to an old western. This mix created something entirely new for me and absolutely addictive. I believe this is a stand-alone, which I am happy with, but I do want more from Mindy McGinnis’ mind.