BLOG TOUR: Mitch Johnson

Good morning everyone!

Today, I have the utterly brilliant Mitch Johnson here to share a blog post themed around the environment to promote the release of his new book, Pop.

Queenie stares out at the ocean and dreams of a world beyond her small-town. She’s about to get her wish…
When the priceless recipe to the world’s most popular drink – thought to be lost forever – washes up at her feet, Queenie’s life instantly changes. Everyone wants it, and with a $10 million bounty on her head, Queenie’s soon on the run. Pursued by bounty hunters, black-ops helicopters and angry mobs, Queenie’s journey involves a trip to Area 51, a man-eating alligator and an unlikely new friend, Todd. But being on the run also makes Queenie begin to see the world around her more clearly – a world in which a big corporation’s excess has left the planet covered in its plastic bottles and waste. Suddenly, the home she always dreamed of escaping, and the ocean she grew up with and took for granted, don’t seem so bad. If Queenie and Todd can bring down the bad guys, maybe she can go back home and make a difference…

***

Pop! is a story about corporate greed and plastic pollution. Or, more accurately, plastic pollution caused by corporate greed. 

At the centre of the story is the Mac-Tonic Corporation, producer of the world’s most popular fizzy drink: Mac-Tonic. It’s a trillion-dollar business, the Mac-Tonic logo is projected on to the moon, and even the Statue of Liberty has swapped her flaming torch for a giant bottle of the sweet stuff. A world without Mac-Tonic is unimaginable. The priceless recipe must be protected at all costs, and the two senior executives who know it are not permitted to travel together.

But when their private jets crash in mid-air over the Pacific Ocean, the trillion-dollar recipe in their keeping goes down with the wreckage. Within weeks, the most ubiquitous of products has disappeared from shelves and refrigerators, and its thirsty consumers – deprived of their sugar-loaded soda – are beginning to crack. Civilization itself appears to be coming apart at the seams… 

But then, miraculously, the recipe washes up in a plastic bottle on the Californian coast, at the feet of a girl called Queenie de la Cruz. It isn’t long before the news gets out, and soon Queenie finds herself being chased across America by bounty hunters, black-ops helicopters and bloodthirsty mobs. As her journey progresses, Queenie witnesses the destruction and pollution caused by the Mac-Tonic Corporation, and she resolves to put the recipe out of their reach for ever. The question is whether she can evade capture long enough to make a difference.

In writing Pop!, my aim was to shift the focus away from the glamour of a big multinational brand and shine a spotlight on their distinctly unglamorous (and copious) trash instead. I wanted to invert the traditional message in a bottle conceit so that the bottle itself – a plastic bottle – became as much a part of the story as the sensational information it contained. I wanted to make the world realize, one way or another, how important trash is.

Some big businesses are so accomplished at littering and destroying the environment that it made me wonder whether it was actually a corporate strategy. I mean, is it really possible to be that good at something that bad accidentally? Do they have targets? I decided that the Mac-Tonic Corporation did. After all, who stands to benefit more from global warming than a soft drinks company, whose business is refreshment? And what better way to measure your success than determining what percentage of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch your packaging accounts for? The resulting boardroom scenes are horrifying and hilarious by turns.

It was important to me to create a book that challenged the prevailing ideology that tells us more stuff – over-consumption – is the solution to all our problems, when in fact that stuff, and the waste it comes packaged in, often is the problem. There aren’t enough books for children that are overtly anticorporate, even though children are already on the frontline of environmental activism. They are well aware of the scale of the problem and are already taking action to protect their future. What these children need are heroes, in real life and in stories, they can look to for inspiration. People who stand up to corporations and governments and broken systems despite the overwhelming odds. I hope that children recognize themselves in Queenie, and I hope Queenie’s actions will encourage them to join the movement to protect the planet, and to question the status quo that is so destructive.

Because if making money remains humanity’s top priority, the planet will always be an afterthought. Or – worse – viewed as little more than an asset to be harvested and monetized. If that happens, we are well and truly on a joyride to Armageddon.

***

A massive thanks to Mitch for stopping by on my blog today! It’s been an honour to be part of this blog tour!

Stop by and check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour.

S x

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