In Cameron Stracher’s chilling dystopian YA, The Water Wars, the fast-paced adventure takes place in a bleak world where the lack of water has caused economic and social disasters. Learn what current conditions around the world inspired the author to create The Water Wars and what steps you can take keep this world from becoming our reality. And after you check out this excerpt and *Web Exclusive Review* of The Water Wars at the end of this special message from the author — be sure to enter to win your own copy of the new novel!
The simplest, most elementary thing, can also be the most precious.
When I first began thinking of writing something for my fourteen (then twelve) year-old son, an image came to me of a boy standing in a dusty road who was deliberately spilling a cup of water into the dirt. It was just a visual image, but I began to wonder about that boy and what he was doing out there. The way he turned the cup over was both arrogant and yet liberating. And then I thought about what it meant to be able to drink a cool glass of water on a dusty road, and how there were plenty of people in other parts of the world who would be shocked to see a boy wasting water by spilling it on the ground. For them, water was a rare gift, and wasting it would be a crime. I began to think about my world, and how access to water is something we take for granted, while there are ten of millions of people who don't even have enough to drink. And then I knew I had my book: a world in which NO ONE has enough to drink.
That world is not so far fetched. Although more than three-quarters of the earth is covered in water, only three percent of that is drinkable, and two-thirds of it is frozen in the polar caps. Fresh water falls as snow or rain, but most of it washes into the ocean before it can be used. The water that remains forms lakes or sinks into aquifers into the earth, where men drill wells to extract it. But growing populations and increased industrialization has put a heavy toll on our reservoirs and aquifers, requiring us to dig deeper for water, and eventually leading to their collapse and contamination. This is not a theoretical problem. Atlanta’s main reservoir got so low several years ago that the city nearly ran out of water. Lake Mead, which supplies much of the fresh water to California, is at its lowest level ever. Across the world, the situation is even more dire. In 2008, Barcelona had to import emergency supplies of water by boat. As countries like China and India grow and become more industrialized, their water needs increase (most fresh water is used for agriculture and industry). By 2030, it is estimated, China will need 52 trillion gallons more than is available to it. Meanwhile, according to the United Nations, there are over 50 countries that share rivers and watersheds where the potential for conflict and war is high.
What would a world without sufficient supplies of fresh water look like? How would people live in that world? What if that world were our own? These are all the questions that animated me as I wrote The Water Wars. But a writer cannot simply create a world; he has to create characters who live in that world. The most interesting and fun (and, ideally, successful) thing a writer can do is to imagine characters who are faced with a conflict that they must confront. If those characters are fully imagined, they begin to take on a life of their own, responding to stimuli in ways the author might not have originally dreamed. For me, once I had visualized Kai – the boy standing in the road – a young girl appeared. She was Vera, nearly Kai’s age, with a brother – Will – who was slightly older than Kai. In some respects, she was me – the author – asking the same questions I wanted to ask, but as the story unfolded and the book developed she became her own person, and her interactions with Kai and her brother became her own. She took me places I never imagined going, and showed me things I would not have expected. The Water Wars, then, became her story, a story of a future world and time, in a place that is not unlike the way we live now.
- Cameron Stracher
Cameron Stracher's Top Five Ways To Save Water
- Take short showers. Think about how many people could drink the fresh water that is running down the drain.
- Choose "low-flow" toilets that use less water per flush
- Let your grass turn brown. Watering the lawn is a complete waste of water. Or, replace your grass with plantings that need less water.
- Drink from the tap. The bottled water industry drains valuable aquifers (to say nothing of the wasted energy used to make plastic bottles and truck it to our homes).
- Get dirty. It's okay to wear your outer garments more than once without washing them.
Af ter learning all about the real potential for our wasteful ways to create a water-starved world (and some tips for how to do your part to conserve water), you can can read this EXCERPT of Vera and Will’s adventure, check out the *Web Exclusive Review* and enter to win your own copy of The Water Wars in stores now.
GIVEAWAY ALERT: Five lucky readers will receive a copy of Cameron Stracher's The Water Wars. To enter leave a comment below about what you'd miss most if you lived in a world without easy access to water. Or email your comment here with your US mailing address and the subject line "Cameron Stracher's The Water Wars Giveaway." The winners will be announced on Monday, February 1st.
BLOG UPDATE 2/1/2011: And the winners are ... Divya L., Kacie L. Varner, KennaMac, ChristyJan and Wenzowsa!