Two successful television writers and producers find a few spare minutes after work. What do they do? Why, they write a novel of course!
Shipwreckers: The Curse of the Cursed Temple of Curses – or – We Nearly Died. A Lot is the book that authors Scott Peterson and Joshua Pruett always wanted to read when they were kids. Peterson is the Emmy-Award Nominated Executive Producer and Showrunner of the Netflix animated series The Last Kids on Earth, while Pruett is the Primetime Emmy & Annie Award Nominated Writer on Disney’s Phineas and Ferb and Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Complete with treacherous temples, ancient idols, and plenty of unnecessary explosions, Shipwreckers is a sprawling adventure that drags humor along kicking and screaming for a dangerous and thrilling ride up the Amazon.
In celebration of their book, Scott and Josh also took time out to interview one another on writing, storyboarding, old-school Halloween costumes, Scott’s age, Josh’s hair and much more. Check out their banter below – hilarity ensues!
SCOTT ASKS JOSH
SCOTT: Does having little to no experience make it hard to write a book?
JOSHUA: Shipwreckers is actually my fourth or fifth book (they just haven’t all been released yet), but I think it’s hard writing any book because it’s always THAT BOOK’S first time being written. Every book is different and has its own needs. Books can be VERY BOSSY, demanding things their authors don’t necessarily feel like writing. I have found that experience is not as useful or as helpful as BLIND OPTIMISM and DELUSIONS OF GRANDEUR; believing you can do something whether you’ve ever done it before or not. There’s a bit of Captain Kevin in that and I think living that way can be much healthier and more fun than approaching the world with cynicism.
SCOTT: Since you were a little boy, you wanted to draw. When did that dream die?
JOSHUA: When I found out HOW MUCH MORE WORK IT WAS than writing! Both require A LOT OF TIME and effort, but storyboard artists absolutely have the hardest, most labor-intensive jobs in animation. Before that step in the process, cartoons are just words on paper, and after a board artist has done their job, there’s something for every other department to work from and react to. My favorite part of being an artist and storyboard artist was MAKING STUFF UP, and as a writer, I get to do more of that, and I get to do it faster, and therefore more often. It’s WIN-WIN for me.
I still draw AND storyboard, but now that TV writing is my primary source of income (I pay the bills with BAD JOKES – YAY!) I can draw more for myself and be more selective about what storyboarding work I take on (like the work I did for Mystery Science Theater 3000 – dream come true!).
SCOTT: In my experience, few true artists are adept at writing and few true writers are talented at illustration. What makes you think you can do both?
JOSHUA: Like I mentioned earlier: DELUSIONS OF GRANDEUR! I’ve been doing both since I was a very small, poorly dressed child with long legs and curly hair, so I find it difficult to separate the two disciplines. I do think I’m a better writer than I am an illustrator/storyboard artist, but I still love doing both. And I think both of them are tied directly to my desire to be a STORYTELLER; sometimes a drawing is better at communicating an idea or moment, other times it’s a particular line of dialogue or dramatic moment succinctly described that sells the drama, but often its BOTH working in concert that really makes magic, whether that’s in comics, illustrated novels, TV animation or feature film!
SCOTT: Your two adorable moppets are the perfect ages for Shipwreckers. What do they think of it? And did you write it just to keep them occupied for a few hours?
JOSHUA: I am very lucky that my son, eight, and my daughter, ten, are THE PERFECT age to dive in and enjoy SHIPWRECKERS. They actually quote the book back to me from time to time, which is a surreal experience, but an absolute joy too. True story; I actually tested some of Captain Kevin’s sillier journal entries out on them as we were writing the book. In fact, one of my favorite memories of the book was reading the Captain’s first journal entry to them out-loud. Any joke they didn’t laugh at I took out. So, if there are jokes in the book you don’t think are funny, it’s TOTALLY THEIR FAULT!
And yes, reading the book we spent four years writing is a GREAT way to keep your kids busy for a few hours!
SCOTT: You often tell the story of putting your all into a storyboard test – which was then completely rejected. That’s a funny story. Tell that one.
(Shipwreckers Interview continues on page 2)