Last week I had the opportunity to share the cover reveal of the third book in the Driven to the Hilt series, Tempered Steel. Today I have the distinct pleasure of interviewing Joshua, the protagonist from the series….
Name: Joshua Vernon
Occupation: Student (and secret stickball hustler)
- What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Just surviving, I guess. It was especially hard in The Swamp, because after the first two Biodiversity Expositions were wiped out, the sponsor of the colony, M3I, just gave up on learning about the environment on Cypress Grove. So, there was no information on the GlobalNet to help me out. I had to figure it all out on my own.
- What is your best physical feature?
Oh, gosh, ah, like best looking? Gee, I don’t know what girls, er, like or anything, about that stuff. But oh! I do like being tall. It gives me a longer reach in stickball and it helps me look older, which is important for getting into stickball games with older kids, who have more money to bet. After all, the higher the stakes, the more money I can make for the Homehearth Café fund.
- What is your most treasured possession?
Mom’s Fang. I got it off the spiderviper that k- ah It reminds me of my Mom, so I wear it all the time. It used to hang from shoe laces, but now it’s on a gold chain, see? I’ve had this ever since I got Mom’s Fang back from Muldavy. And I don’t feel bad about that, since he tried to steal it from me in the first place.
- What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My Mom. And Dad, too, but he wasn’t with us for very long. I still remember him, though! So, anyway, my Mom and I shared a lot. She was a really good cook a chef! Well, not officially, I guess, but in the way she loved food, learning about it, experimenting with different combinations, and well, just about everything to do with cooking. So, I guess I love cooking too, but really, it was mostly about being in the kitchen with my Mom. So, yeah, my Mom.
- What is your favorite journey?
Well, there’s not many places to go on Cypress Grove except New Cincinnati. But there was when I first got back into the colony, up on the roofs for the first time. I looked out and all of the street lights were stretching out into the night, making the raindrops sparkle, and then, the laser show at Sky Creek Mall started! All of the colors flashing against the ion shields I could almost hear the music… My Mom and Dad used to take me to the Mall once a month. We had to buy something to be able to stand under the sunlamps, so they got me a single scoop of ice cream – whatever flavor I wanted! Anyway, I guess it was that first journey across the rooftops of New Cincinnati, that is my favorite.
- What is your most marked characteristic?
Marked? What do you mean? Like most important? Most helpful? OK, well, the most helpful characteristic is slowtime. Definitely! I mean, I’m never really sure when it will come, well, it’s always in a high pressure situation, but I can’t make it come just like, whenever I want to. And I can’t control how long it stays, either. It used to only happen during key plays in a stickball game, but after falling into The Swamp, it has saved my life a bunch of times! So, yeah! That’s makes it the most helpful characteristic, by far. Right?
- Define happiness and share your happiest memory.
Define happiness. Hmmmm, well, it’s like when you feel that everything is just right and you’re with people that you trust and you like doing things with and that you love. I always felt that way when we sat down to eat, all of us, before my Dad was killed by Space Pirates. Sorry. Thinking about that is still sorta upsetting. Anyway, when all three of us sat down, especially when my Mom had cooked something new, we would all get the first bite ready, look at each other, and then, put it into our mouths at the same time. And then, we’d close our eyes and chew it real slow, sorta squeezing all of the flavors out onto our tongues with our teeth and after we swallowed, we’d open our eyes and we’d all be smiling and that’s when I was the happiest.
- What is it that you most dislike?
Being bored. I mean, those first few days in the Swamp, just sitting in the rain, too scared to do anything? Man! That was the soppin’ worst! Ooh, I’m sorry, about the language, that is. My Mom would drop on me like a ton of ore for saying that! But after always being busy with schoolwork, and finding pick-up stickball games, and keeping our place clean while Mom was working, to just sit there hour after hour? It was like torture! But after I started to try and find my way out of The Swamp? Yeah. It wasn’t boring after that, that’s for sure!
- What is your greatest fear?
Letting down my parents. And I think I did when I- with Uncle William but, I tried to make better choices after that. I tried to do right to learn to use Mom’s lesson about Machiavelli. I tried and I I think they both forgive me.
- What is your greatest extravagance?
I suppose it was the time I bought those extra spice wheels and food ingredients, the shortening, bake mix, sugar, yeast. I was pretty low on money, but it was right after Uncle William and I had to stay holed up for over a month and, like I said, I hate being bored, so it was like an investment, you know? To have ingredients to experiment with, just like my Mom. And mmmmm, the Orangecakes? After I learned to bloom the yeast first, those were delicious!
- Who do you most despise?
Bullies. That they use their strength to hurt people who are weaker than them- whoa! That really pops my airlock! Like the way Marcos was with Tifinity and me, too, when he figured out who my Dad was. But then, one of my Mom’s sayings came to mind and well, those almost always help, whenever I think of them.
- What is your greatest regret?
That I didn’t mind my Mom on that day. I know it probably wouldn’t have helped, but maybe maybe it would have changed something somehow. Did you have another question?
- Which talent would you most like to have?
To be able to talk to girls, you know, like the vid stars. They always seem to have the right words I mean, I know that is make believe, but there are guys like that, right? It’s just that, not having a brother or sister, and being mostly homeschooled, I haven’t been around a lot of girls, and anyway, I guess I’d like that. To know what to say to girls.
- What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Deplore? Gosh, I don’t really deplore anything in myself. I suppose if I had to say, it would be how I get anxious whenever I’m not sure how to proceed. Yeah, like I told you about talking to girls, but now that I think of it, it’s like that with other things, too. So, like when I wasn’t sure how to format a report my Mom assigned to me, I got all freaked out until she gave me a template to follow. I may not do something the best, but as long as I have a way to attack it, I’m ok. So, yeah, maybe not deplore, but I really dislike not being able to handle uncertainty.
- What do you most value in your friends?
Ah, to be honest, I don’t really have any friends. There was another boy, Steevan, who was becoming my friend my first year in school, well, at least we always hung out together during Physical Exercise Breaks, but after what they said my Dad did before he died, then my Mom lost her job, and we had to move, and so I never saw Steevan after that. Then we had to move a bunch more times and my Mom was homeschooling me, but if I had to say, it would be loyalty. Maybe because nobody stuck with us after the rumors about my Dad, even though they knew what kind of man he was. Yep, if I had any friends, I’d want to know they’d stick with me, no matter what.
- Who do you most admire?
Duh! My Mom. But you’ve probably already figured that out. She never quit, even after my Dad was gone. She was Resolute.
- What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Well, I’m not sure it’s a virtue, but being successful is overrated. I guess that comes from both of my parents. Like the time I said I admired the captain of our local pro stickball team. They agreed that he was a really good athlete, but then shared about how he was not always nice to other people and didn’t always keep his word. And then? Sure enough, despite saying he would spend his entire career on our team, he took a contract with our biggest rival. So, I learned the difference between being successful and striving to do your best, but only in the best way.
- Which words or phrases are you known for?
Like uh ‘cowabunga’ or ‘I’ll be back’ or something like that? I don’t have anything I say, like that, really. I guess, I’m sorta known on the stickball court for not saying curse words. Why? Well, first, I don’t want to let opponents think I’m rattled about something, unless I do want them to, and then there are other ways to do that, like that time with Tifinity. And second, as I already said, whenever I did let something slip, Mom would be on me like white on rice, as my Dad used to say.
- If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I don’t know, being too trusting of people, maybe? Even after everyone deserted us because of what they said about my Dad, I still tend to take people at their word. My Mom said it was a good thing that I can still trust others, but I have the feeling it’s going to get me into trouble someday.
- What is your motto?
Resolute. Well, it’s not mine, really. It was the unit motto of my Dad’s Space Merchant Marine unit. But my Mom and I adopted it after he was gone and things got tough. Yeah, it really helped then, especially after losing my Dad, the rumors about him, my Mom losing her teaching job, and us having to move to cheaper and cheaper places to live yeah, that was when it helped to remind each other to be Resolute.
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