Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Surviving the Apocalypse, Guest Post by Etiquette for an Apocalypse author Anne Mendel

Etiquette for an Apocalypse, which TheDiaryofaBookworm.com kindly reviewed and reviewed kindly, is a post-apocalyptic/ mystery/thriller/comedy. I had many reasons for writing a “harrowing and hilarious” (at least this is what some reviewers say) book. I wrote an apocalyptic book, not because I believe in any particular Apocalypse, but because 64% of Americans aren’t ready to deal with just a three-day emergency. So, not many people are ready to deal with long emergencies. And I do believe that we are headed towards some hard times. That’s why learning skills, like how to tie a good knot and plant a garden are so important now. And of course building personal resilience and making friends with your neighbors (remember to take them chocolate chip cookies today) are key.

I think many of us have lost our survival instincts. I would probably last for two or three days in an apocalyptic scenario. It’s a kind of ‘do as I say, not as I do’, thing. I’m the Clark Kent that never figures out how to turn into Superman. My protagonist, Sophie, is my alter ego. She is street smart, practical and resilient. I do know how to waterproof matches and make a fire with pocket lint. I’ve learned how to shoot a gun. I’m very good at reading books on survival. Actually, writing books on survival. But no one, I mean no one, knows who they are until they are faced with a dire situation. The better you are prepared emotionally and physically, and the more flexible you are about working with other people, the more likely you can survive and possibly thrive, which I think my main character does.

My main character is Sophie Cohen, obviously a woman, but I really think that men and women bring different strengths to a dire situation. It depends on the crisis. If it has to do with competition, violence and aggression I’ll probably choose a man. They have 50% more upper body strength than women and a mass of testosterone. I have a growing appreciation of that. But if we’re talking about compromise and negotiation, cunning and improvisation, I’ll take women. That’s not to say there aren’t remarkable men and women who can do all these things.

Now, hard times can push all of us to be our best or worst selves. Men, women, families and communities can bond or they can tear apart. That’s where learning resilience skills comes in. For example, I’m working on upping my tolerance for people who drive me crazy. I’m trying to grasp what puts certain people on the short list to extinction. Figure out the skills that make a person valuable in hard times. You know how we make fun on Basketweaving 101 and think Intro to Philosophy 101 is important. Knowing how to basketweave will bond you to your tribe—Knowing about Descartes and existentialism or being charming or beautiful, not so much.

And lastly, why did I make Etiquette for an Apocalypse a comedy in the middle of such tragedy. While not as important as clean water and gorp, laughter is a major component of resilience. Going back to bonding with your tribe…if you can make people laugh, they will keep you around, even if you can’t grow things or make a bug catcher for termite soup.

You can read more about my take on emergency preparedness on my survival guide blog, annemendel.com

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