Boyband of the Apocalypse is a book about boybands. And Apocalypses. That shouldn’t be a surprise. I mean I mention them in the title and everything. But it’s also about a boy called Sam who isn’t very good at… well anything really.
Do you ever think about the people on X-Factor who aren’t very… how can I put this nicely… good? I do. I think about them a lot. I don’t mean the people who aren’t very good that the judges put through anyway just to annoy everyone and get us all talking about the show. Like Jedward or Honey G or Wagner or, well, there’s a lot of them isn’t there? No, I mean the other ones. You know: the ones in the audition stages, who tell us that winning the competition is their dream and all they want to be is a star. And then they come out and they can’t sing. And we’re all supposed to have a good laugh at them as their dreams are crushed and then they go away and we never hear from them again.
Sam, is a lot like those people. He’s not very good at singing. He’d quite like to be. But he’s not. In fact, he’s possibly the worst singer in the world. Ever. So when Sam attempts to audition for the hottest boyband in the country, you can pretty much guess that his chances of winning are about the same as Simon Cowell ever finding a t-shirt that fits him properly. Which is a problem since the fate of the world depends on Sam joining the band.
Books, TV shows and films are full of characters that turn out to be supremely gifted somehow. I’ve lost count of the number of Chosen Ones out there. Often at the beginning, they don’t even know they’re the Chosen One. And then they find out and their lives are changed forever and they become Super Talented without needing to do much work. Which is a lot like the X-Factor. I mean, the winner there is literally the Chosen One.
I’m not that interested in Chosen Ones. I’m more interested in the people who aren’t chosen. Whenever someone is told they’re not good enough on the X-Factor I wish I could have a quick word with them. Just to remind them that when the wise and all-knowing Louis Walsh says you’re not good enough, what he’s actually saying is that they’re not good enough at one particular thing. But singing an Acapella version of a Taylor Swift song probably isn’t the only way into the music industry. I don’t know, I’m no expert there but I imagine there are other ways. And even if they really do have no shot at making it, their lives are far from over, no matter how sad the Take That song playing might be. Maybe they just haven’t found the thing they’re good at yet. Sometimes it can take a while.
At the start of the story, Sam certainly hasn’t found the thing he’s good at. In fact when he asks his parents to name anything he’s good at, they can’t think of a single thing. It’s not exactly the encouragement he’s hoping for to be honest. But eventually Sam does discover his talent. And it turns out to be far more important than whether he’d be able to get through Big Band week or not.
Like Sam, and all those X-Factor rejects, I can’t sing or dance. It turns out my talent is writing stories about sinister boybands plotting to destroy the world, talent shows from hell, evil quadruplets, ten-year-old girls with incredible fighting skills and parents with a mysterious past. It’s a very precise skill set admittedly, but luckily I was finally able to put it to use when writing Boyband of the Apocalypse. You see, it all works out in the end!