When Mindy McGinnis was in the 8th grade, she took a personality profile to see what job she would have.
The test results said McGinnis should be a police cop. She wanted to be a writer.
Now McGinnis is touring the U.S. with her latest book, “Not a Drop to Drink,” a post-apocalyptic survival tale set in a world where freshwater is almost nonexistent. The main character has a pond in her backyard and grew up defending her rare water source.
The idea for her book came from a documentary called “Blue Gold” about a projected shortage of portable water on the planet due to overpopulation.
“It was a horrible thought,” McGinnis said. “I went to bed very grateful for the small pond in my backyard, and that night I dreamt I was teaching a young girl how to operate a rifle so that she could help me protect the pond. I woke and thought, ‘Hey, I wrote a book in my head just now.'”
The title of the book was inspired by the quote from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”: “water water everywhere, and not a drop to drink,” referring to the fact that one can’t drink ocean water, a huge point in McGinnis’ novel.
“Not a Drop to Drink” has many strong points, but McGinnis thinks one strength stands out above the rest.
“You can read it as a fun adventure story, or you can look deeper and find a story about human resilience and decisions shaping people,” McGinnis said.
One of McGinnis’ biggest supporters has been Cardington Junior High School science and health teacher Donna Kill. Kill was McGinnis’ 6th grade English teacher, and they now work together at the Cardington school district library.
“She’s always been very supportive of her students,” McGinnis said. “When I handed her an advance copy of my book, she cried. She continues to support me as an adult, which I can’t say how much I appreciate.”
Kill knew McGinnis was capable of achieving something great in her life.
“I remember one particular assignment where Mindy simply shined,” Kill said. “She selected a novel of her choice, and gave her great insight and critique about the book. Mindy had a vision and wisdom about characters and plot at an early age.”
Kill and her 17-year-old son read McGinnis’ latest work and found it intriguing and gritty.
“It appealed to both the outdoorsman in my son and to me as a mother,” Kill said. “There is a great deal of science in the novel and I appreciate how Mindy researched the information before writing.”
Kill thinks McGinnis’ greatest strength as a writer is the depth she gives to her characters. Kill said McGinnis has the ability to allow the reader to view the character on the surface level or see layers and richness to the personality when looking for complexity.
McGinnis knew it would take a lot of hard work to reach her goals.
“It’s an art and a business all at the same time,” McGinnis said. “I was writing for 10 years before I even got an agent, so you have to have determination.”
Despite touring for her newest book, McGinnis is working on another book, set to come out in 2015.
As an established writer, McGinnis has the perfect piece of advice for aspiring writers.
“Be realistic,” McGinnis said. “Know your market, do your homework and learn to take criticism constructively.”
With her whole career ahead of her, Kill expects nothing but great work from McGinnis in the future.
“She will find success because she is dedicated to her writing and to her craft,” Kill said. “It has been a joy being associated with Mindy both as her teacher and now as a colleague.”