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Today I share the first author interview in the Backdoor Survival Winter Book Festival. Charlie Palmer, the author of The Prepper Next Door, shares his answers to my questions and is also providing one of my readers with a free copy of his book.
Be sure to check out the details of this week’s giveaway below.
The Prepper Next Door
The very first chapter of The Prepper Next Door provides an introduction to the world of prepping. It compares today’s prepper to the survivalists of the 1980s and to modern day homesteaders and hobby farmers. As I often say, most preppers these days are quite ordinary and to look at them and talk to them, they would appear indistinguishable from the typical guy or gal next door.
The book is written for and about the typical prepper next door – people like you or me.
Your neighbor may be a prepper, too!
An Interview with Charlie Palmer
Tell me about your book, The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning. What is it about?
It’s a book about prepping and some things we can do to protect our families during disasters. I write about things like assembling a bug out bag, assuring drinkable water during an emergency, learning about self-defense. Things like that. I hope the book will be useful to both new preppers and also to those who’ve been prepping for many years. I try to provide more information for those who want to delve further into prepping topics.
What type of research did you have to do while writing The Prepper Next Door?
Most of the “research” was done over much of my lifetime. Much of the book was initially written as a flow of thought. Then I went back and filled in some useful resources to help people learn more if I felt it was needed.
When learning about survival, a motto I’ve always followed is to learn from those who need to do something regularly. To learn about the best clothing for extremely cold weather, I’d look to ice fishermen. To learn about water treatment, I’d look to people working as missionaries or relief workers in Third World countries. What products do experienced backpackers use? To those people, it’s not just a hypothetical. If their water purification methods are inadequate, they get sick. So they’re forced to learn what works. Then, as a prepper, I try to adopt the best methods, within budget, of course.
A good example: I have an extensive chapter about sanitation. Two of the groups I think I’ve learned the most from over the years are self-sufficient sailors in small boats and people traveling around in RVs.
Most of us can take our daily sanitation for granted. In the city, we’re hooked up to a public sewer system, and we have running water. We have garbage disposal. In rural areas, we might have a well with a pump and a septic system. But, sailors and RV-ers don’t have these systems. They need to deal with sanitation more directly, which is what many urban preppers would have to do in an emergency. They’d have to create their own self-contained systems.
The common advice many communities give if the sewer system fails is to line your toilet with garbage bags and then seal them after use. This advice kind of stinks. It’s not the choice of most RV-ers. They’d use portable chemical toilets like a Thetford. They’d have holding tanks for grey and black water.
How long did it take to write?
It was written part-time, so I don’t really know. It was written over about a year. I had the idea of writing a book about prepping or family preparedness many years ago, but only got around to writing it recently. The thought process, though, happened over many years.
In some ways I’m glad I waited a few decades to write it. It gave me a chance to mature and have a more balanced approach to prepping. With age you learn what’s really important.
An example: I write a lot about guns because many preppers are interested in them and I like them. I go into quite a bit of detail. What’s the difference between the 223 Remington and the 5.56 mm, etc. But, most urban preppers really only need maybe a defensive pistol, and maybe a CCW pistol and maybe a shotgun. There are young guys out there who purchase 20 guns and feel “prepared,” but they don’t have a small savings account to cover emergencies. You need to prepare for the most likely emergencies first.
Personal defense is another good example. You can study martial arts all you want, but making good decisions about where you go and what you do is key to keeping most people out of harm’s way.
Every book, fiction and non-fiction, includes a message. What message do you hope my readers will take with them after reading The Prepper Next Door?
I’d guess the basic message is to make some simple preparations. Another is simply to learn what can go wrong with things in general and have some idea of how to deal with them.
An example is home heating. Recently, Hurricane Sandy knocked out many peoples’ power. We can live without power, but it’s very uncomfortable not to have heat in a really cold climate. In the book I talk about the old-school gravity hot water heating systems that used oil fired or natural gas boilers. These systems didn’t require electricity to circulate heated water through a house. In a way these systems were more robust. There was less to go wrong.
Throughout the book, understanding the systems you rely on in your life is a constant theme. I think preppers should know a bit about repairing their own vehicle. If your plumbing system develops a leak, it’s good to be able to fix it yourself. That can be as simple as owning a few repair clamps or learning how to solder copper pipe. If your heat goes out, what steps should you take to protect your pipes from freezing? Many people don’t know how to turn off the supply of natural gas to their house. In an emergency, you might have to shut it off.
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
I’m probably just like your average blog reader, just your average prepper next door.
Before the 1980s, I was into wilderness survival, the outdoors, martial arts, and guns. In the 1980s, I became interested in what we call “prepping” today. Although I have a long experience with prepping, I’d describe myself as a moderate prepper. I don’t think society will completely fall apart and that we’ll need to live off the land for an extended period of time. But I like to encourage people to be a bit more self-reliant and learn to take care of themselves and their families during emergencies.
Do you have plans for another book?
Not currently. I have started writing a blog at www.preppernextdoor.wordpress.com.
Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers?
Well, I hope they’ll read and enjoy the book. The one thing that comes to mind is the 80-20 rule.
Some new preppers feel overwhelmed, like there’s too much to do. Often the first basic preparations you make will be the most important. You’re much more likely to need a two-week supply of food than a two-year supply. A basic defensive handgun will protect you in most self-defense situations.
So just get started prepping. And if you’re beyond the basics, that’s great too. There’s always more to learn.
The Book Giveaway
A copy of Charlie’s book, The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning has been reserved for one lucky reader. You know how I like to make things easy so all you need to do to win is to share a prepping tip in the comments area below.
The deadline is 6:00 AM Pacific next Friday. A winner will be selected next Friday at random using tools on the random.org website.
The Final Word
Charlie and I agree on something very fundamental and that is that ordinary people becoming ordinary preppers will be those that prevail in the months and years ahead. The challenges are clear and of course, no one can do it all. Still, with time, patience and a bit of perseverance, my hope is that we will all remain safe and that we all will remain well.
And to that end, keep on prepping!
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Spotlight Item: This week’s spotlight is The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning. Every prepper worth their salt needs to make modest preparations to plan for disasters, emergencies, and unexpected life contingencies. This guidebook covers the basics and a whole lot more including things not found in other prepping guidebooks.
Bargain Bin: Listed below are all of the books in the Backdoor Survival Winter Reading List. There are both fiction and non-fiction titles and a bit of something for everyone. Also, some of these books are Kindle e-books but you do not need a Kindle to read Kindle e-books. Simply download the free Kindle app from the Amazon site and you are good to go.
The Backdoor Survival Winter Reading List – Non-Fiction
The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning (Author Charlie Palmer)
Rapid Fire!: Tactics for High Threat, Protection and Combat Operations (Author Max Velocity)
Lanterns, Lamps and Candles (Author Ron Brown)
An Operations Manual For Humankind – The Complete Compendium Of Natural Health: (Author: Paul Patrick Robinson)
Understanding the Use of Handguns for Self-Defense (Author David Nash)
Where There Is No Doctor (Authors David Werner, Jane Maxwell, Carol Thuman)
Making the Best of Basics – Family Preparedness Handbook: (Author James Talmadge Stevens)
Live on $10,000 a Year or Less – Newly Revised for 2013 (Author George Ure) – available in mid to late February
The Prepper’s Pantry: Building and Thriving with Food Storage (Author Anne Lang)
The Truth About Simple Unhooked Living (Author Estar Holmes)
The Backdoor Survival Winter Reading List – Fiction
Preppers Road March (Author Ron Foster)
BUG OUT! Preppers on the move! (Author Ron Foster)
The Light In The Lake: The Survival Lake Retreat (Author Ron Foster)
Patriot Dawn: The Resistance Rises: (Author Max Velocity)
Holding Their Own: A Story of Survival (Author Joe Nobody)
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