Sunday 1 September 2019

Attack of the Zilgrids: An Ultra Boy and Wonder Dog Story.

The Power Ship juddered as another Zilgrid Death Ray smashed into its wing.
‘We’re losing power,’ cried Anti-Matter Kid, pounding the console.
Ultra Boy wrenched the rudder to the left, narrowly avoiding another barrage from the Zilgrid vessel. ‘We might be losing power, but we’ll never lose faith, will we Wonder Dog?
Wonder Dog, resplendent in his space suit, yipped his assent before pressing the fire button, sending a missile crashing into the heart of the enemy ship.
‘Good shot, boy!’ said Ultra Boy.
All three members of the Intergalactic Power Squad were close, but Ultra Boy and Wonder Dog had a special bond. They grew up together on the planet Jinx and hadn't spent a single day apart. They had a telepathic understanding; each of them knowing what move the other was going to make.
The Zilgrids were far from the first hostile force they had encountered since they began their intergalactic adventures, but they were certainly one of the toughest. Their Death Rays were incredibly difficult to outmanoeuvre and caused more damage than the Power Ship had sustained in years.
‘I guess this is why they don't call them Snuggly Cuddle Rays,’ says Anti-Matter Kid, as another one took off a chunk of the fuselage.
The communications screen sputtered into life and Duke Zilgrid appeared, an enormous grin stretched across his head, which was the exact size and colour of a watermelon.
‘We've got you now, Intergalactic Power Squad,’ he cackled. ‘Prepare to be boarded.’
Ultra Boy’s heart pounded. No. The Power Ship was sacrosanct. It had never been invaded by enemy forces. It was their safe space. ‘Oh no you don't,’ he said. ‘Anti-Matter Kid, engage shields.’
Anti-Matter Kid shook his head frantically. ‘It’s no good. That last hit took them out.’
Duke Zilgrid laughed again, this time louder. ‘There's no point fighting it. We're coming aboard.’
Before they could do anything to stop it, the air behind them fizzed blue until it formed two shapes, which were unmistakably Zilgrid; hefty and thick. When they came into focus, Ultra Boy recognised them instantly. It was Ethanium and Tyleriak Zilgrid; two of the galaxy’s most wanted criminals. They had been terrorising every planet they could get into and showed no sign of slowing down.
‘Nice ship, freakazoids,’ Tyleriak sneered. ‘I've been in better smelling toilets than this.’
Ethanium grunted with laughter and slapped his grotesque brother on the back. ‘Good one, mate.’
Ultra Boy sprang to his feet and pointed his Ultra Ray Gun at them. ‘I order you to leave this ship immediately.’
The Zilgrids chuckled, and Ethanium held up one of his calloused hands. The gun vibrated and Ultra Boy watched with a mixture of horror and amazement as the power dropped to zero.
‘How did you do that?’ Ultra Boy whispered.
‘How did you do that?’ Ethanium and Tyleriak mimicked him in high-pitched voices.
Wonder Dog growled ominously as they approached, but didn't attack. He knew they were too powerful.
‘What do you want?’ said Ultra Boy.
Ethanium and Tyleriak sniggered at each other as they made their way to the comms screen and faced then.
‘We want him,’ said Ethanium, pointing at Anti-Matter Kid with a thick, green finger.
‘Why do you want Anti-Matter Kid?’ Ultra Boy asked.
‘We think he'd be a good addition to our team,’ said Tyleriak. ‘He might not look like a Zilgrid, but we're pretty sure he's one of us, deep down.’
Ultra Boy laughed. ‘Well that's all very nice, but you're not having him. Isn't that right, Anti-Matter Kid?’
No answer.
‘Anti-Matter Kid?’
Ultra Boy turned to look at his friend and couldn't believe what he was seeing. Anti-Matter Kid was staring at the two invaders intently, and not with hatred, but with something that might have been admiration.
Ultra Boy went to walk over to his friend, but Tyleriak unholstered his own ray gun and pointed it at him. Ultra Boy knew there must have been Death Rays in there. One blast from that gun would be enough to squelch him into strawberry jam. He held up his hands to show he wasn't trying anything funny and leaned closer to Anti-Matter Kid.
‘You don't believe what they're saying, do you?’ he said to him.
Anti-Matter Kid wouldn't take his eyes off them. It was as if he was hypnotised. ‘I don't know,’ he said, his voice quiet and faraway. ‘Maybe they've got a point.’
‘Are you crazy?’ Ultra Boy cried. ‘They're space pirates! Criminals! That's not you. You belong with me and Wonder Dog. Just like it's always been!’
Anti-Matter Kid looked at his old friend for the first time, but his eyes were still blank.
‘Things have changed,’ he said, robotically. ‘Deep down, I'm a Zilgrid.’
Tyleriak and Ethanium belly-bumped each other and laughed their piggy chuckles. ‘Told you we'd get him,’ Ethanium said.
‘Listen to me, Anti-Matter Kid,’ I said. ‘Remember all the good times we had! The three of us are a team. If one leaves, it will fall apart.’
Anti-Matter Kid slowly turned away and focused on the Zilgrid brothers again. ‘I'm ready to go, now,’ he said, flatly.
Wonder Dog, sensing something was wrong, ran up to Anti-Matter Kid and jumped up, nudging his hand with his nose, but it was as if he wasn't there.
‘Here we go,’ said Tyleriak, pulling a transporter out of his pocket and throwing it on the floor between them, where it glowed white hot.
Anti-Matter Kid walked towards the transporter without looking back. Ultra Boy desperately tried to grab him, but it was too late. With a flash of light, he was gone. Without considering his safety, Ultra Boy dived at Ethanium and Tyleriak but they were gone, too, leaving nothing but their swampy smell.
The Zilgrid ship moved away at warp speed. Ultra Boy and Wonder Dog jumped to the controls but the ship was too damaged to give chase.
‘I'm sure someone will be along to help us soon,’ said Ultra Boy, but the vast lonely blackness outside showed no signs of life.
Wonder Dog hopped over to Ultra Boy’s Seat and snuggled in his lap. ‘At least we have each other,’ said Ultra Boy, his voice tight in his throat.
The ship pitched uneasily and Anti-Matter Kid’s empty seat gently spun, before creaking to a stop.

Sunday 7 January 2018

The Awesomest Kids of All Time

Only a few people ever achieve Awesomeness. And most of those few achieve it later in life, after years of trial and error. A tiny percentage, though, and I’m talking like 0.0000000001% are born Awesome. This post is about them - people that achieved great things before they were old enough to celebrate with a glass of wine.

My latest book, Make Me Awesome is about Freddie; a kid who, for all his positive attributes, was not born Awesome but tries his damnedest to achieve it. He signs up to dodgy life coach Chuck Willard’s Complete Road to Awesomeness Program, but he doesn’t need to bother. He could just take inspiration from these Awesome kids.

Gabrielle Turnquest

Imagine being the cleverest kid in school. Now imagine being so clever, you start studying for a degree when you’re fourteen and graduate when you’re sixteen. Sounds mad, right? But that’s exactly what Garbrielle Turnquest did. And there was me thinking I was a big deal for drawing the best picture of a horsey.

It was the best day of Year Ten.

And that’s not the end of it. After she finished her degree, she went to law school and at eighteen, became the UK’s youngest barrister in six hundred years. When I was eighteen, I was working in an Argos and holding ‘Who can burp the longest competitions’ with my best friend Barry. I mean, yeah I won, but it’s not exactly a law degree, is it? Now I think about it, I should probably take the certificate down.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Now, I’m not exactly a cultured person. I mean, I always get Mozart and Beethoven mixed up.

I don't know why. Beethoven's a big, slobbery film dog.

And I shouldn’t, because Mozart was pretty special in his own right. By the age of four, he had already mastered the piano and the violin and had composed his first concerto. That’s right, a concerto. I couldn’t even manage London’s Burning on the recorder when I was four. Come to think of it, I still can’t.

By the time he was six, he was playing for the Emperor, and at nine, he was in demand all over Europe. He was basically the Justin Bieber of his day. Only less annoying.

It’s often said that young Wolfgang was pushed to success by his father, also a keen musician. Which is pretty much the same as when you see Dads screaming at refs at football matches.

Lil Poison

Do you like playing computer games? Do you find yourself gaming when you should be doing homework? Well what if I were to tell you that you can make it your JOB?

That’s exactly what Lil Poison (real name Victor De Leon III) did when he was just six years old. He became so good at Halo that a gaming league signed him up to be a professional gamer. He competed in worldwide tournaments, placing second out of 550 at the Halo 2 FFA tournament in 2003.

Now, I’m not much of a gamer, but it’s bad enough when some teenager whoops me at GTA, never mind a seven year old.

Lil Poison might seem like a strange choice for this list, but he’s as good a choice as anyone. Just because he’s not an academic or musical genius didn’t stop him from making his passion his job. And if that ain’t Awesome, I don’t know what is.

Stevie Wonder

Now, you might know Stevie Wonder as a smiley old fella sitting behind a piano, but he has been in the game since he was knee high to a grasshopper, scoring his first number one hit aged thirteen in 1962. At that point, he’d already been signed to the legendary Motown records for two years, recording, touring and writing songs.

He began playing music at an early age, mastering the piano, harmonica and drums, as well as possessing one of the most recognisable voices in pop history. And he did it all despite losing his sight as a baby.

Stevie is Awesome because he overcame tremendous obstacles to become one of the greatest musicians ever. To quote Mr Wonder himself, ‘Just because a man lacks the use of his eyes doesn’t mean he lacks vision.’

Malala Yousafzai

The story of Malala Yousafzai is one of the most inspirational you will ever hear. As a child, she was a tireless campaigner for the rights of girls and women in her native Swat Valley in Northern Pakistan. She kept an anonymous blog for the BBC, detailing life under the Taliban, who banned girls from attending school. When her identity was revealed, she began publicly advocating for female education and was awarded Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize.

However, the forces she was speaking out against were displeased, and sent death threats to Malala. When they didn’t stop her, a Taliban gunman boarded her bus and shot her, the bucket passing through head and neck.

Thankfully, after extensive medical treatments in both Pakistan and the UK, Malala made a full recovery and continued her fight for justice. In 2014, she became the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and is currently studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University.

So there you have it, my list of Awesome Kids. I hope you enjoyed it. Now of course, the idea of this wasn’t to make you feel bad – I mean, I didn’t do anything close to what these guys achieved when I was a kid. Heck, I still haven’t. I just wanted to show that Awesomeness comes in all shapes and sizes, from being good at music, to computer games to standing up for what you believe in. You can even be Awesome just by petting a dog or helping an old lady across the road. Make sure you do that the right way round, though.

Make Me Awesome is out now!

Saturday 13 August 2016

Vlogging a Dead Horse

Well hello there, you're looking remarkably well. Have you been working out? Me neither.

Anyway, the reason I'm writing this post is to tell you about a new thing I'm doing - Vlogging a Dead Horse - a new series on YouTube about writing, books and whatever else pops into my head. Plus, there'll be all kinds of other surprises and whatnot. 

The first episode is up now and features a WORLD EXCLUSIVE Joe Cowley short story set before the first book. So what are you waiting for? Watch the thing so I can become one of those big time YouTubers like Zoeena or Danzig and Philbert.

Wednesday 3 August 2016

My Embarrassing Dad's Gone Viral!


Ben Davis here with a blog about my new book, My Embarrassing Dad's Gone Viral!

It's the story of Nelson - a twelve year old boy whose mum disappears one day, leaving his dad to look after him and his five year old sister, Mary. After a search turns up no clues, Nelson thinks that the best way to get Mum back is to become a famous YouTuber and make enough money so that she'll want to return. However, that plan goes awry when Dad moves the family to the middle of nowhere and enforces a strict no computers or TV rule on them.

Despite that, Nelson continues to secretly make unsuccessful videos until one day, his Dad unwittingly becomes the star of the show and is catapulted to internet fame. Can Nelson get his mum back before his dad finds out just how famous he is? There's only one way to find out!

I made a video about the book for my publisher's sales conference which you can view below:

And to top it all off, MEDGV! has been named a 'Book We Like' by BookTrust (review here) as well as a Young Writers Recommended Read and a Bag of Booklists Book of the Month.

My Embarrassing Dad's Gone Viral! is out now from all the usual places.

Thursday 21 July 2016

Podcast Time!

Hello blog people!

I was recently a guest on the marvellous ThankBookFor podcast. We talked about books, sharks and Marmite. It was loads of fun.

You can listen at or via your preferred podcast-listening app.


Monday 18 April 2016

Tuesday 5 April 2016

Welcome to Cringefest video

Guten abend! To mark the publication of Welcome to Cringefest this week, I'm making an FAQ video. If you have a burning question about Joe Cowley, writing in general, or what my favourite crisp flavour is*, just write it as a comment, send a PM, or get in touch through my website and I will answer it in the video.

PLUS! Everyone who asks a question will be entered into a draw to win a signed copy of Welcome to Cringefest. A prize potentially worth hundreds of pence.

*Trick question. Twiglets