Archive for the ‘Joshua Files’ Category
Posted on July 3, 2013 - by MG
Last week I emerged from the self-imposed semi-hermitage of finishing a manuscript, to drive up north to Wakefield and the Riveting Reads Awards. The lovely kids of Wakefield had picked APOCALYPSE MOON to be on the shortlist, and presentations of each author’s books were promised, so I was keen to go.
The Yr5s of South Parade School had made artwork around the APOCALYPSE MOON jacket, with different textures and using materials including papier mache, chalk, oil pastels and paint. Lovely! They very kindly gave it to me at the end, so when I can find some wall-space (on a non-rainy day!) I’ll take a photo for the blog. My first time seeing artwork based on the final dark book – before it’s usually been Invisible City.
A group of Yr7s from Ossett Academy did something else I’ve never seen – they acted out a scene from the book! The scene was set in the ‘Muwan’ – the advanced aircraft flown by the Sky Guardians of Ek Naab. The kids had made a control panel from a keyboard and some painted cups, and of course – tin foil. Four kids held the Muwan scenery in place around the actors, who played Josh and Tyler. Two boys did Josh’s inner voice (nice! I hadn’t ever really thought about the dramatic possibilities of that!). I wish I’d videoed them, they were all so great!
The chose to dramatize the section where Josh shows alt-Tyler (from the parallel future) the Muwan. This Tyler hasn’t ever seen it, is only just now beginning to accept that maybe Josh is telling the truth about time travelling from June 2012. He gives a speech (inspired by Kurtz’s famous speech from Apocalypse Now). I really enjoyed watching it and talking to the students afterwards about why they picked that particular piece. I’ll admit, I’m happy that a scene that I hoped would resonate, had an effect on these readers. Tyler, in a very toned down way, of course, is the Colonel Kurtz character of this story. The one who’s had his innocence ripped away by living through the horrors.
Often the difference in making a story work for young people lies simply in which end of the story you choose to tell. Tyler’s story would be a lot darker and grittier than Josh’s. Josh leads a charmed life, by comparison. But hopefully, that makes him easier to relate to.
I was delighted to thank all the kids who made artwork or presented the drama, a package of Joshua Files goodies, the gym bag, enamel badge and wristband. Lots of happy faces!
Ah but – the book didn’t win the award! That honour went to the impossibly youthful-looking Ciaran Murtagh with GENIE IN TRAINING. Congrats!
Posted on December 24, 2012 - by MG
Guesting today on the blog it’s none other than Josh Garcia. Delivered this late, after staying up all night at some crazy party in Ek Naab. But I’ll let Josh tell you in his own words.
Best. Night. Ever.
I woke late on the day that was supposed to be the end of the world. I had a little smile to myself looking at Twitter at all the Mayan Doomsday posts, laughing it up. Well, sure, why not? The way we know we succeeded is that no-one outside of Ek Naab knew much about what was going on. The space scientists knew, but you have to expect that…
The preparations for the party were already under way. Benicio and some of the Sky Guardians were going to let people onto their training machine, the virtual reality simulator. It’s a piece of kit that took Carlos Montoyo into negotiations with one of NASA’s major suppliers to get hold of. This was back when the NRO had only the vaguest idea that in the skies of southern Mexico, something strange might just be going on. He pretended that the owners of the plantation above Ek Naab were planning to open a multi-billion dollar theme park and that the simulator was going to be like, our Mission Orange. But that’s another story.
Anyway, Benicio was in the main plaza, setting up the simulator. I grabbed a breakfast burrito and helped out with the guys who were setting up the rolling stage. There was going to be a concert there until two am. There aren’t many musicians in EK Naab so the twenty of us had to take turns playing different sets, each playing two sets, three hours apart. My band’s been together for only three months so we’re not that great, firstly. But worse – we don’t have more than 25 minutes of music we can play! I wanted us to play originals but Leonora, our lead singer, refused. I don’t know why because it’s not as though people in Ek Naab really listen to music but ever since Mum and I arrived, I have to admit, the interest in rock music has increased A LOT.
Ixchel rolled up at around 2 in the afternoon. She had a twinkly look in her eye that I took the wrong way completely. I was all set to finish up, get some lunch and head over to her place until I realised that she had something else in mind. Mum or Montoyo must have tipped her off because it turned out that they’d cooked up a plan to fly out to Tlacotalpan. Now that is also another BIG story but I have been instructed not to write about what happened in Tlacotalpan because of SPOILERS.
So we went off to Tlacotalpan, Mum, Montoyo, Ixchel and me. And amazing, wonderful stuff happened and it was very cool and also kind of romantic, in more than one way, but I’m getting into spoilerish territory there.
When we got back to Ek Naab it was one in the morning. I’d promised Leonora that I’d join in with the band if they waited until the end for me, and amazingly, without hardly any fuss at all, they did.
We played that Gotye song that everyone is mad about (even here) and also a couple of Green Day classics (Holiday and Good Riddance) and Muse (Supermassive Black Hole) and then specially for Leonora, Fast Car (which she sings really well) and Poker Face (less impressive but then I think that song is less difficult to sing, I mean, even I can do an OK job of that. :)). It’s kind of a weird set, but that’s because we’re mashing up all the different band members’ musical tastes. I guess mainly we’re just going to have to be happy as a cover band. 😛
And then we got off the stage and all the kids in Ek Naab all got on stage and did Ek Naab Style. Which is exactly what it sounds like. Yes I videoed it but no, I’m not allowed to put in on Youtube.
Gangnam Style – one crazy end to 2012. Believe me, back when I first found the Ix Codex, I did NOT see that coming.
Well, I was too tired to join in, just exhausted from the long day. I put my arms around Ixchel and finally, headed home with her.
Posted on December 21, 2012 - by MG
Five to Doomsday – Day 4: What 3 books would you save from the apocalypse? Featuring Anthony Horowitz and Michael Grant
For today’s special Mayan apocalypse-themed post, I’ll be posing a dilemma faced by one of the characters in APOCALYPSE MOON.
(I won’t say which character, in case you haven’t read the book yet because it’s very spoiler-ish.)
When making a dash from their home to a doomsday-prepped retreat in the hills, this character brings certain books. But along the way they are robbed, have to bargain their way out of trouble etc. Sometimes books are traded for their burn value. In the end , only THREE books can be saved. In APOCALYPSE MOON, those three books turn out to be highly significant to the story.
I put that question to Anthony Horowitz, Michael Grant and Junot Diaz, three authors whose books I admire, and who’ve written (or are writing) novels featuring post-apocalyptic mayhem.
Junot Diaz replied with a charmingly mis-typed message from the Dominican Republic: Pita. In dr. No email. Typing tid on cel phone. Have to skip. Please forgive.
So I’m stepping in as the third author to add my selections to Anthony’s and Michael’s. The only rule was this – the books you choose to save must be in your house right now.
In case you’ve been living on another planet for the past few years, Michael’s fantastic GONE series features a thrilling, paranoid world in which everyone over the age of 15 has simply GONE. The kids of Perdido Beach, CA are left to duke it out amongst themselves. But the phenomenon that spirits away everyone over their 15th birthday has made its impact elsewhere too. Mayhem, action, politics and romance are only part of the result. Think Lord of the Flies meets X-Men.
Again, for those currently living in the International Space Station, Anthony’s POWER OF FIVE series is a modern-day epic fantasy in which an ancient threat that once dominated the Earth now looms on our horizon. Only five teenagers – the reincarnation of ancient guardians who once banished the evil Old Ones – stand between us and oblivion. But what’s this? – the final book is titled OBLIVION. Which I guess tells us that the Power of Five needs that extra final push. I’ve been saving this one to read over the Christmas/New Year break.
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich – William Schirer. This is the best history of the rise and fall of Hitler and the Nazis that I’ve ever read and a vital lesson to future generations. It’s an extraordinary examination of the nature of evil and one we all have to understand if we’re not going to repeat it.
Posted on December 20, 2012 - by MG
Since 3pm today on The Joshua Files facebook page (see results) and via the MG Harris mailing list (see results), readers have been voting for which deleted scene from The Joshua Files they’d like to see on the blog as part of the Five To Doomsday blog post series.
I can now announce that this winner (mainly via votes from the mailing list) is:
Deleted scene from Invisible City in which Josh meets and makes out with a Bus Stop Girl on the cross-country bus in Mexico.
I’m just in time to see the cross-state bus leaving – early. I could erupt with curses, for the anger I feel, but there’s a very pretty Mexican girl in front of me who does it so much more effectively, in Spanish too, that I simply watch her explosion.
When she’s through, I say in Spanish, “Hey, couldn’t have expressed it better myself.”
“I catch that bus every week,” she complains, “And it’s always late. Every time, for two months. What’s so special about today that he has to go early?”
“Maybe his wife promised him something special if he finished early?” I suggest.
“What, a loser like him with a wife?” she laughs. “A girlfriend maybe, but a wife?”
“So when’s the next Campeche bus?”
Not for two hours, she tells me. And even then it’s the Veracruz bus. Fewer stops and more expensive. She’s headed for a hacienda hotel on the outskirts of Campeche City. “A vacation?” I ask innocently, to which she replies with scorn, “You don’t look much like a strawberry but I guess you are one after all,” “Strawberry?” I ask. “Si, fresa,” she replies. “One of those stuck-up preppy types.” I close up my mouth with a simple “Oh.”
She walks off in something of a huff, disappearing into an ice-cream parlour. After a second’s hesitation, I follow her. “Did I say something wrong?”
“Are you thick or something?” she says. “Do I look like a tourist? What do you think a girl like me will be doing in a place like Hacienda Los Reyes?”
The girl, who looks to be around my age, is dressed in a sleeveless white cotton dress with just a thin pink shawl. She’s slim but sturdy-looking, with toned arms and shoulders. Her clothes and shoes look very simple now that I look more closely, the kind of thing you find in any supermarket. She wears them so stylishly, with such a coquettish air that I’d taken her for a something other than what she evidently is: a hotel chambermaid.
“Okay, so I made a mistake,” I say. “So what? It’s not the end of the world is it?”
“Oh, what do people like you know about the end of the world? I bet you’ve never worked a day in your life.”
“More’s the pity,” I say, smiling. “Think people like me enjoy having to study Latin and maths? I’d rather be cleaning house with a girl like you.”
“Don’t go trying to seduce me with your preppy charms,” she says. “Just shut up and buy me an ice-lolly. Then maybe I’ll forgive you.”
Her tone may be cross but by now she’s grinning, showing perfectly even, white teeth. I open the door of the shop’s chest freezer, brush aside the clouds of icy mist above the stacked slabs of frozen juice and ice-cream. They’re arranged by colour, starting from the milky whites of coconut cream, rice milk, lemonade, through the entire rainbow ending with the red spectrum: strawberry in both water-ice and milk, and the geranium red of redcurrant. I buy us each a stick of frozen redcurrant juice (her choice) and we return to watch the buses. The flavour is unexpectedly strong; sharp, tart, sweet and quite unusual.
“Mmm,” I say, doing a Homer Simpson impression. “Curranty…”
She replies with a laugh that actually makes my stomach do a little flip.
To read the rest, download the entire deleted Bus-Stop Girl section
- Ollie was originally named Vanessa
- In the original draft, Josh was 15 years old at the start of his adventures.
Posted on December 19, 2012 - by MG
Continuing the series of posts running down to the day after the Mayan apocalypse (because that’s how optimistic I am that we’ll live to see it) – it’s time for Tyler and Ixchel to take your questions.
Yes! Also Josh did it, at first. People from Anglo- backgrounds tend to call me Icks-shel. When I first met Josh he had a pretty strong British accent speaking Spanish. It’s better (much) now that he’s been living in Ek Naab, although people always want to practice their English with him so often times they don’t talk to him in Spanish.
Do you still wanna leave? Or do you love Josh enough to stay? (from Kaelyn Cook)
I still want to leave! But with Josh – of course! We’ve both been offered a place from next October at Oxford University, if we get the points we need in our exams next summer. Josh got accepted at Aquinas College (obviously he was going to apply to his father’s college) and I was accepted at Lady Margaret Hall. We’re also applying to Princeton and Harvard. One way or another, Kaelyn, I’m getting out of Ek Naab! Those couple of months I spent waitressing in Veracruz were tough but I really enjoyed the freedom to just hang out in a normal place.
What do you want to become when you grow up, since you study all those subjects? (from Jeremy Mallia)
I want to keep going on the ancient languages thing. I’d like to learn a few more, and then get into a doctorate program. I’ve been looking at Linear A, and a couple of other languages that haven’t yet been deciphered. But I guess what I really want, long term, is to find about more about the Erinsi. Maybe we can find some more remains and find out more about them? It’s such a shame that we had so little time with Ninbanda, But there are hours and hours of recording the NRO made of her talking about the Erinsi civilisation. So – that’s the answer: I want to be the world expert on the Erinsi.
What do you find most complex about Josh? (from Henry Deferrars)
Ha – I have to say, my first reaction was to laugh at this! He’s not that complex. Is he? I guess I find his musical side the most interesting thing about him because it’s something I didn’t see much of for a long time. But the more I got to know him the more I realised that music is what he really loves. He did so many things when he was a little boy, and I think it took him a long time to work out what he enjoys most. I mean, he’s so good with the capoeira and the pilot stuff. So I guess that’s it – when we first got together he was all running around and wanting to be fighting and riding motorbikes and then flying the Muwan. Yet deep down he was just wanting to be this boy with his guitar, writing songs.I think he learned how to do the other stuff just because he’s a Bakab, and he knew he needs to be strong and able to defend himself, etc.
Have you ever watched Toy Story 2, like Josh once suggested? And if so – what do you think of it? and have you watched any other Disney films? (from Chloe Smith)
Yes, we watched it together when he was in Ek Naab for that first Christmas in 2010. It’s amazing! But actually I like Toy Story 3 even better. It’s not quite such a fun story as the second movie, but Toy Story 3 made me cry and for some reason made me think of my mother (who died when I was a little girl, and I never really played with my toys the same way after that.) Josh still thinks that the second movie is the best one. Those Toy Story movies are the best Disney films, I think. But since you asked, I have now also watched, and really love, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Aladdin, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Up, Alice in Wonderland. It’s too bad I didn’t watch those when I was a little girl!
Is there any chance of you and Josh being together? (from Gabriel Spence)
I guess you’re asking if we’re going to stay together? I Hope so! I kind of got used to having the boy around. OK, I really like Josh a LOT. And now that I’m pretty sure he’s not Arcadio, well, that makes me feel a lot better.
Did you know all this was going to happen? (from Cory Richards)
Did I? No! How could I? There were times when I was terrified that one day Montoyo would come to me and say that Josh had gone off on some crazy mission and that he wasn’t coming back. You can’t imagine what his mother went through each time she knew he was away doing something risky. That’s actually why Josh didn’t want to tell her, most of the time. So you can guess how relieved I am that things seem to have settled down!
Thank you for your questions! Winner of the Best Question in this round is Henry Deferrars.
Do you still pursue
Capoeira? (from Henry Deferrars)
Totally! It’s like, my main thing. I want to be a Mestre (Capoeira Master) some day soon. I’m going to help set up the new school that our Mestre is starting in South Africa. And in my gap year I’m going to Salvador in Brazil for five months to work on a local community project, and also be studying capoeira. That should get me my red belt (the first belt where you are a Master). I’ve already been teaching kids to play capoeira, so I’ll keep doing that and keep going!
Do you wish you had the ability to go back or forward in time like Josh and visit an alternate reality? (from Jeremy Mallia)
Between you and me, I have a hard time believing that Josh actually did that stuff. OK I guess there’s proof – how could he have got out of that pharmaceutical company in Switzerland and how could he have gone to those other realities and all… But I can’t bring myself to believe it. Josh told me all about other-Tyler, too, but it’s just so unreal. To me at least. I mean like, what’s that all about? Come on. It’s properly mad. It bends my head! So would I like to try it? I dunno. It’s kind of freaky. There’s nowhere that I’d rather be than where I am right now. That’s been true my whole life. Which – I guess – means I’m a lucky boy. Hmm. I’m still thinking. But no, I wouldn’t want to risk ending up somewhere worse than here, cos here is pretty great for me.
Feel a bit of a cop-out now. 😛
Do you ever wish you could go back, before you got tangled up with Josh? (from Kaelyn Cook)
No way! Some of the time it was mental and scary and I’m not gonna lie to you, getting shot in the hip was blatantly the worst thing that has ever happened to me. If you’d asked me within six months of that happening I’d have said yeah, I wish I’d not bothered to go round to his house that day. But now that I think back, some of it was a laugh. Like when we dressed up like Batman and Robin to sneak into that party, and that nonce Simon Madison was there dressed like Batman, too. Or the time my and Ollie saved Josh from drowning in the Caribbean Sea, after Madison abducted him in Chetumal. Good times, man.
Thank you for your questions! Winner of the Best Question in this round is Kaelyn Cook.
N.B. Beady-eyed fans of a certain TV show will have spotted the reference to a certain TV show’s episode in the title. A free signed book if you can tell me what the reference is, with a full explanation about why it is relevant!