JOSHUA: I once did a storyboard test for a big animation studio and the evaluator hated my work and for some reason decided to take it personally. I didn’t get that job, obviously, and was VERY discouraged. I was out of work and had a Wife and two small kids at home to take care of. But I took that same test to the team at the original LEGO MOVIE and Dan and Swampy at PHINEAS AND FERB and got two job offers off that same “failed” storyboard test IN THE SAME WEEK. I went with Phineas because I’d get WRITING CREDIT for the work I was doing and my whole life and career changed after that. Taught me a valuable lesson; we shouldn’t depend on others to define our self worth. I did my best, and then found folks who really responded to my best. People who don’t respond to your best aren’t worth your time.
SCOTT: Despite the dreary reality of your life and career, you maintain a very positive, pro-active outlook. Why?
JOSHUA: Mostly I do that in order to combat the morose cynicism YOU bring to every day, and every project we work on together. It’s a survival tactic. I’m the bright sunshine in your dreary doldrums. The peanut butter in your bland baker’s chocolate, the crunchy cereal in your spoiled milk. Makes us a good team.
Real answer: my Dad died when I was nineteen and it changed how I looked at the world and in particular, how I approached my career. He was a DREAMER like I am, and I try and remember how important it is to use the time we’re given to make things, bring light and love people. I also really like inflicting laughter on others. Makes me feel good too.
SCOTT: When you were late for a deadline on Shipwreckers, you often said, “My home office flooded.” What will your excuse be on the inevitable sequels?
JOSHUA: I have a whole laundry list of BRAND NEW excuses just waiting to be applied, all the way up through “SHIPWRECKERS BOOK TWENTY THREE: NO THANKS, THERE’S NO MORE. GO HOME.”
SCOTT: Do you have any other scribblings printed up that we can read?
JOSHUA: For older kids who like horror and weird fiction, I have a collection of short stories called THE MISERY COMPANY on Amazon. For HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON fans, there’s a special POP UP book that covers the whole trilogy that I wrote some words for, out June 4th. Then next year, a scrapbook set in Nickelodeon’s AVATAR universe focusing on Uncle Iroh and the Fire Nation!
SCOTT: What other books do you have in the works?
JOSHUA: I’ve got a BIG, FUN and SILLY, Douglas Adams-like take on a Greek Mythology MIDDLE GRADE ADVENTURE EPIC making the rounds right now, trying to find a home and an editor! And some weirder ones behind that…
And you and I have a few things coming, the first of which is a SCARY MIDDLE-GRADE, STRANGER THINGS-esque THRILLER with monsters that we’re editing now, and preparing to launch on an unsuspecting world soon! (*LAUGHS MANIACALLY, CHOKES, THEN LAUGHS AGAIN*).
SCOTT: Do you have any ideas for Shipwreckers 2?
JOSHUA: I have WAY TOO MANY IDEAS, for that book plus at least thirty-two others in the series AND a separate trilogy of HOLIDAY THEMED Shipwreckers books too! If you let me write the Christmas one, I’ll let you write the Halloween one. Deal?
SCOTT: Self-promotion is a big part of being an author. When you market yourself, why do you still rely on a Halloween costume from nearly a decade ago?
JOSHUA: Because it was an ALIEN CHESTBURSTER with my nine-month-old daughter as the bloody yet adorable xenomorph and we got a WIN on FAILBLOG. I’m internet famous, kind of. Search EPIC WIN DAD in Google images. We’re there. Promise.
SCOTT: Your wife is an avid reader and part-time ice skater. My wife knows precisely where my half of the book starts because I’m a better writer. Thoughts?
JOSHUA: Your wife is a lovely person but I can’t really vouch for her TASTE. I mean, she MARRIED YOU, didn’t she? Nuff said.
SCOTT: You rarely stop prattling on about Dr. Who and MST3K. Why do these two franchises get your nerd heart racing?
JOSHUA: MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 is my favorite show of all time. DOCTOR WHO is my favorite show of all TIME AND SPACE.
I saw MST3k for the first time at like three in the morning at a friend’s house when I was thirteen and was HOOKED; still have my fan club membership card and everything. It really was a major influence on my creative life and my sense of humor too. It was also a bit like a film school; I still contend you can learn much more from a BAD MOVIE than a GOOD one. And while it was making fun of bad movies and big, dumb rubber monsters, it had a warmth and optimism and good natured-ness I really responded to. Plus sassy robots and hand-made sets!
Getting to actually write and storyboard on the new show was a mindboggling bit of bucket list actualization.
I first caught Doctor Who while visiting my Dad in New York and it SCARED ME SO MUCH. I hid behind the couch and everything. Tom Baker, the guy with the long scarf, was my first Doctor. When the modern series returned in 2005 it blew my mind and changed my life. It was so full of love and life and hope and WRECKLESS OPTIMISM. I read the books from BBC and Penguin UK and listen to the audio dramas produced by BIG FINISH. Writing for DOCTOR WHO is next on my bucket list.
SCOTT: Do you own any clothes other than movie-themed T-shirts? If so, where are they?
JOSHUA: They’re in a box because they’re all long sleeved, button up shirts I can never wear because we live in California and we don’t have COLD anymore. Also, I think I made you take me to Costco so I could buy a few of them, so THANKS BUD; should have saved that money for DVDs.
I do only wear horror movie and pop culture t-shirts, and they’re mostly all black; according to my Wife Amanda, I have thirty-two black shirts. She counted.
SCOTT: Why do you mix two, and sometimes three, sodas into one cup?
JOSHUA: Something I picked up at after school day care in the eighties; they called it a SUICIDE, although we should probably come up with a more responsible name for it. My son loves using those new-fangled MULTI-DRINK machines at movie theaters to make his own! Must be a Pruett-thing.
SCOTT: Despite being a grown adult, you still waste a large portion of your disposable income on toys, DVDs, and comic books. Explain yourself.
JOSHUA: I am a huge physical media guy FOR SURE. I didn’t have much growing up, so I’m sort of making up for lost time. My Wife buys a lot of yarn, so I need DVDs to keep pace with her. We also LOVE BOOKS. They are our TREASURES, and we’ve been that way since we were kids, we dream of BUILT-IN BOOKSHELVES.
SCOTT: What’s with that hair?
JOSHUA: Can’t do a thing with it. But I did have an afro for a bit in High School which made me popular with the ladies for five whole minutes.
SCOTT: What is your personal writing process like? Give us an idea of an average day:
JOSHUA: I prefer to outline what I’m doing first; at least giving myself a ROAD MAP for where I’m headed in every chapter, but allowing for room to improvise and explore. If I’m on script, like for MILO MURPHY’S LAW or THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH, I try to hit a page count, like five or more per day. If I’m working on a new novel, I try to average 500-2000 words per day. I’m most productive first thing in the morning and after 9pm at night.
JOSH ASKS SCOTT
JOSHUA: Does being very, very old make it harder writing for young kids?
SCOTT: Despite my advanced age, I still FEEL like a kid. I still like a lot of the same things I did when I was young and I just try to stay in that space when I write.
JOSHUA: Why do you think you’re funny? And why are you wrong?