Last week I saw an online preview of Sourcebooks’ new fall catalog, and when I spotted Water Wars by Cameron Stracher, my first thought was: Must Do Interview! (Or maybe that was my second thought. The first one was probably: Must Get That Book!)
I actually met Cameron Stracher at the Sourcebooks Fire Launch Party in NYC last March, and so I know he’s an extremely amiable author and a fellow vodka martini fan who was just as puzzled as I was that some Manhattan restaurants do not stock olives! Next time Cameron and I meet, I’ll be prepared with a little Tupperware full of cocktail olives, just in case.
1. Water Wars has been described as a “green” dystopia novel, where environmental disaster has wreaked havoc on our world. What can you tell us about this future – and the Great Panic which caused the collapse of society as we know it?
We are already living in this future to some extent. In some countries, at least half the population does not have access to adequate supplies of drinkable water. Though the earth is mostly water (70 percent), less than one percent is drinkable, and much of that is concentrated in a few countries (Canada, for example). There have been wars fought over water, and even in the United States there are intense legal struggles over who will control access to fresh water. Water Wars is simply an extension of our world, the logical progression of what could happen if we don’t change our wasteful ways.
2. Tell us something about your protagonists, Vera and Will, and a little bit about the mysterious Kai.
Will and Vera are brother and sister, 17 and 15, living with their father in subsidized housing, and caring for their mother who is sick and bedridden. Kai is a much wealthier boy that Vera meets one day while waiting for the bus. Part of the mystery of Water Wars is who (and what) Kai really is, and I’m not going to ruin it for you here!
3. Go ahead and scare us. Water scarcity is a real problem. What are the facts?
Atlanta nearly went waterless last summer when the reservoir it used for fresh water nearly disappeared. Across the world, we are using up our supplies of fresh water faster than it can be replenished. Just because water falls from the sky, does not mean the supply is infinite. Most of that water runs into the sea, gets polluted by sewage and heavy metals, and is used by industry. Once an aquifer (an underground reservoir) is diminished beyond a certain point, it cannot be replenished. There will always be water, but there will be less of it to go around, and it will be the poorer countries (and people) who will suffer more. Unless the inequities are addressed, there is a real threat to political stability and peace.
4. Did you scare yourself writing it? Did you have the urge to start hoarding bottled water in your basement?
I knew most of the facts I’ve recounted before I started writing, but I think what struck me as I wrote was the very real possibility of the things I was imagining.
5. People are going to compare your novel to The Hunger Games and Uglies. What commonalities do they have – and where does the similarity end?
I love both those books, and would be flattered if people drew the comparison. Water Wars is similar to those books in that they all paint a frightening picture of a dystopian future. Unlike the Hunger Games and Uglies, though, the world of Water Wars came about mostly through man’s inaction, greed, and ignorance, rather than through directed government policy.
6. What else would you like us to know about your book?
The book does have some serious themes, but I really wrote it as a good “yarn,” to entertain my son, who had just finished reading The Golden Compass. I hope my readers will be as entertained as he was.
7. When can we lay our hands on Water Wars? (Do fellow Sourcebooks Fire authors get early copies?!?)
January, 2011. But if you’re very, very nice, and email me your mailing address, you might get one sooner.
I’m always very, very nice. 🙂
Thanks, Cameron! Cameron Stracher can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org