Posted on May 15, 2012 - by MG
Today I’m delighted to welcome a rare blog guest post from another author who loves to craft a story around a code. With me, part of the inspiration for THE JOSHUA FILES was the real-life code-cracking story of how the Mayan hieroglyphic script was deciphered in BREAKING THE MAYA CODE.
Today, Ruth Eastham, author of new release THE MESSENGER BIRD, visits as part of her blog tour, to tell us about the code-filled influences on her writing and on her latest children’s book. THE MESSENGER BIRD is a taut, emotional story with a deadly code and secret at its heart. Who could resist?
The Messenger Bird blog tour is also a code-hunt. Each post features a special letter to collect. So keep your eyes open! Full details on Ruth’s website
Here’s how our conversation began – via Twitter, naturally.
MG to Ruth: “How about we start with me challenging you to solve a code that Anthony
Horowitz sent me.”
Ruth *gulps*: “THE Anthony Horowitz? How long did it take you then?”
MG: “About 10 minutes!”
Ruth *gulps again*
!B4R P4N S3H TKC 1RC DL5 4C1 3CR 1GH S4J
I have to say I’m worried. Worried that – like Nathan in The Messenger Bird – I won’t be able to break the code in time. I’m competitive that way. (And nobody wants to come across as a bit of a duffer on someone else’s cool blog, right?)
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve always been partial to puzzles. But then there’s trivial time-filling fun code cracking, and there’s THE code cracking. I’m talking real code breaking – the SERIOUS stuff – like Josh in MG’s books. I’m talking saving lives on a GLOBAL scale. I’m talking BP (and not the petrochemical kind).
BP = Bletchley Park
Inspired early on by reading about wartime code breaking, I tried to teach myself Morse with the moving mirrors Survival Kit item my brothers got one Christmas. And I have to say, back then I felt reasonably confident that I would be able to signal SOS
when the need arose.
… which are all EXACTLY like The Messenger Bird.
(Okay, okay, so Nathan, Josh and Sasha may have completely different adventures to Julian, George and the gang, but the important point is:)
A Famous Five Story = our heroes on a mission to solve a mystery
The Messenger Bird = our heroes on a mission to solve a mystery
(PLUS they both have a dog in them)
(I know MG will appreciate this with her scientific background.)
Cracking codes is pretty much all about solving some kind of mystery, right?
Besides, I’m in love.
RE 4 BP
My love affair with Bletchley Park all started when a friend told me that a mate of her mum used to work there. Before long I was in the company of 85-year-old Beryl, telling me how she signed the Official Secrets Act at 18 and what it was like to work in Hut 7. Before much longer I was heading for Bletchley Park itself.
Now prior to this trip, I’d already goggled at my first Enigma machine at the Imperial War Museum in London. Gazing through the glass case with me was a security systems bloke from the US. Together we were smitten.
His girlfriend looked none too impressed as we chatted geekily about mechanical rotor mechanisms, and it was only after weighing up the statistical probabilities of a three versus a four rotor machine that the two of them (her with a last jealous glare through
the glass) left me to my gogglings.
But wonderful as that was, seeing the Enigma machines in the context of Bletchley Park itself was even more breathtaking than I could ever have imagined. I was hooked.
And by the way,
JOSH GARCIA COULD CRACK THIS NO PROB! (that’s the solution to the code sent by MG, using a cipher introduced to her by Anthony Horowitz)
(6 minutes, 47 seconds)
(But I’m worried to admit, a clever friend helped me.)
And for those of you collecting letters for Ruth’s mystery message competition:
Ruth Eastham’s Messenger Bird blog tour.
MYSTERY LETTER NUMBER 5 = I
Follow Ruth Eastham on Twitter: @RuthEastham
Thank you Ruth, for taking the time to drop by The MG Harris Blog!