We are fortunate to have an interview today with one of the leading voices in the Survival and Preparedness community, James Wesley Rawles. Mr. Rawles is the owner of the hugely popular website survivalblog.com and has also written 5 books. Two of his books are on our list of the Must Have Prepper Books because I thought that both for different reasons were such great sources of information for preppers. Survivalblog.com was the first prepper website that I really started visiting when I was new to prepping and the information in the pages of his site opened my eyes to so much. I still visit survivalblog.com almost daily for information and knowledge.
I was given the opportunity to interview Mr. Rawles in conjunction with a review of his latest novel Expatriates. I have read his first novel Patriots and loved it. Actually, I think that is the only book I have ever reread in my life. Patriots was both a huge motivator for me in my own prepping journey as well as a source of information and ideas. His other book that I have read; How To Survive The End Of the World As We Know It was more practical, but just as interesting and I have only started Expatriates. I will be reviewing Expatriates as soon as I am finished for you here on the Prepper Journal, but I wanted to share the interview with James Wesley Rawles now since it may be a couple of weeks before I finish the review of his novel.
I have wanted to speak to Mr. Rawles for a long time and was able to ask him some questions about Expatriates as well as delving into more of his perspective on the state of things now and he was kind enough to oblige. Mr. Rawles gave us his take on where we stand and what is in our future.
TPJ: Give us an overview of your book, EXPATRIATES: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse.
Expatriates spans the globe, following several story-lines in the near future, as the world experiences a full scale socioeconomic collapse. The key characters are two Canadian-born sisters. One of them lives in Tavares, Florida, where she and her husband operate a family owned hardware store. Her sister is an ex-pat missionary living on Samar Island, in the Philippines. As the global economy collapses, the communications infrastructure breaks down, so the sisters lose contact with each other, and with their parents in western Canada. While one family does their best to hunker down in Florida, the other is forced to flee the Philippines in a carag outrigger fishing boat. They do so to avoid being massacred by Muslim guerrillas that are being armed and supported by a newly radicalized Indonesian government. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but suffice it to say, it is quite thrilling. The climax of the story takes place in Northern Australia.
TPJ: What are the benefits or explain your preference in using your self-described “unusual” contemporaneous approach to writing novels that essentially take place at the same time but tell the stories of different people in different places?
I much prefer having my novels be contemporaneous, rather than following the same group of characters farther into the future, as most sequels do. This keeps most of the action in the same tumultuous time period that I refer to as The Crunch, wherein the western economies collapse. This also creates a power vacuum that is exploited as other countries begin to test their territorial limits. This approach also allows me to describe the varying effects of The Crunch in different countries, each with their own climates, economic situations, and cultures. I think that it is much more interesting being able to portray characters from all walks of life, and describe how each of them are able to adapt to and overcome the effects of The Crunch.
TPJ: What do you think is the most important thing that people overlook when it comes to getting prepared?
Water. Every family needs a top quality water filter to assure that they will have a supply of reliably safe water for drinking and cooking.
TPJ: You still own the incredible resource Survivalblog.com even though as I understand it, the day to day duties have been passed on to Hugh. Considering all the content on your site, would you say that overall the content is geared more for Preppers or Survivalists? Do you see a difference in those two terms or is it all semantics?
I consider the two terms essentially synonymous. But I’m definitely in the “guns and groceries” school of survivalism.
TPJ: Do you hope people take something away from your novels besides entertainment? If so, how do you envision people using your books?
I consider my novels survival manuals dressed as fiction. Many people find themselves reading them twice: the first time through for pleasure, and the second time with a yellow highlighting pen in hand, and with a notepad available, to take notes.
TPJ: I am told you are going to be releasing a new non-fiction book entitled “Tools For Survival” and there is another in the Patriots/Expatriates series called Liberators. Do you have plans for another book that doesn’t follow the same back story?
Yes, I’m currently drafting a science fiction novel for young adults. That should be released in late 2015. I am also outlining a new series of thrillers that is set 40 to 50 years in our future, in a world with vastly different empires, economies, technologies, and geopolitics.
TPJ: Where are some of the sources you go to daily for news and information?
I usually scan the headlines at The Drudge Report each morning. I’m also a close reader of the precious metals news analysis at Gold-Eagle.com. Beyond those, I also read Instapundit and a lot of other blogs. I now have very little faith in the mainstream media.
TPJ: The true value of a currency is what it can purchase. I know from reading survivalblog.com since at least 2008 that you are a big proponent of holding precious metals with an emphasis on junk silver. If we have a TEOTWAWKI event like you portray in Expatriates, how long would you foresee it would be before a real commerce system would be possible using a monetary unit like silver? I guess more directly – how long would it be before you could buy a horse and pay someone in silver even though they have no silver of their own?
The amazing thing about a free market economy is that it finds price stability very quickly, even in the aftermath of great destruction. Just look at how the German economy switched to using cigarettes for barter within days after the collapse of the Nazi government. I anticipate that in the event of the collapse of the purchasing power of the U.S. Dollar, it will be supplanted by precious metals very quickly, although in the short-term, common caliber ammunition will probably be in greater demand.
TPJ: I have heard many different estimates of death tolls from the simple act of turning off the electricity. What is your opinion on the potential for die off just from losing power? Not counting people on life-support or who need machines to live, are the estimates of 90% dead in a year realistic in your mind?
My personal estimate is for around a 60% die-off, nationally. But there are a lot of variables, such as the season at the time of a power grid collapse. If it takes place in early winter, then the die off might begin more quickly. The other variable of course is how quickly the three national power grids are restored. If we have to live through two winters without power, then that is where we might have a population loss of 60%. And there will also be great variability, geographically. The greatest loss of life will surely be in the densely populated northeast, while the lowest will be in the lightly populated inland northwest, which has the benefits of both low population density and plentiful hydroelectric power that can immediately be “islanded”, so that there will only be very brief power interruptions.
TPJ: With so many seemingly real threats to our country from open borders, terrorist groups, to virus outbreaks, economic malaise and sabre rattling against other super powers; do you have a gut feeling that we are getting closer to some event that could prompt all these “paranoid” concerns you and others (myself included) have had for years to be validated?
Yes, I believe that the risks are greater than ever before. And with each passing year, our society is becoming more vulnerable. Only 1% of our population now feeds the other 99%. And reliance on grid power and the Internet continues to increase. Meanwhile, microcircuits architecture continues to become more complex, with gates sizes now down to three tenths of one micron. So our vulnerability to EMP and CME solar storms continues to increase. And concurrently, mountains of debts–both public and private–continue to grow. All in all, we are building an enormous house of cards.
TPJ: Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers of The Prepper Journal?
A list of my upcoming book releases can be found at http://survivalblog.com/writings. But I hope that all of your readers take full advantage of the deep and fully searchable archives at SurvivalBlog.com. Those archives are entirely free of charge. I encourage folks to print out hard copies of the most important articles, so that they’ll have a portable and EMP-proof source of crucial knowledge.
TPJ: Where can people see you in person? Conferences/ Trade shows? I think most of the time you conduct appearances remotely. Is there anywhere people can see the man behind the books and website and shake your hand?
Unfortunately because of my busy writing schedule and the constraints of operating a working ranch, I’m not able to travel. But I will continue to do radio and podcast interviews, and well as some tele-seminars for prepper and investing conferences.
Thank you again to Mr. Rawles. I look forward to reading Expatriates and will post my review on the Prepper Journal when it is ready. Please visit Mr. Rawles’ site survivalblog.com for great information.