You know what every 9-year-old girl from the 90’s wanted to be when she grew up? A princess? A mom? A Barbie?
Nope. A spy.
I blame Spy Kids, actually. Or Totally Spies. Or The Powerpuff Girls. When you’re a budding writer at age 9, you do a terrible job of sorting *your* ideas from the movies and books you enjoy. Pretty much everything I wrote before I was 13 was insanely derivative and cliché. But, what can you do? Can most 9-year-olds even define ‘cliché’?
Agent Adrenaline was a story idea that I held onto for many years in childhood. It was about a girl named Liz and her best friend Jackson. Both were ordinary teenagers, until Liz lets a secret slip – she’s a spy! Jackson gets pulled into one of her missions, bumbling along like the hapless geek he is, while Liz dances through bullets and bad guys with ease.
By the time I was 10 or 11, I might have realized that it was too similar to existing works…but at least it was a BIT different. However, the nail in the coffin was Kim Possible. They are practically identical side-by-side.
Once the world knew of KP and Ron Stoppable, I officially euthanized Agent Adrenaline for good. Ultimately, I write stories that I’d like to read about. If someone else has beaten me to the punch, I happily withdraw and enjoy what they’ve created. In my mind, they’ve saved me a lot of work! I may have been disappointed to lay Agent Adrenaline to rest at the tender age of 11, but it doesn’t bother me anymore. I never actually wrote the book, which is why I have no excerpts today, so…on to the next idea!
One day, when I was 6 years old, I asked my parents for some paper and a piece of cardstock. With that, I wrote my first book. My first five books, actually.
The series was called “Shanin Adventures.” It followed the travels of Tracy and Drew Shanin, twin children from Wilmington, North Carolina (where I was from) whose first adventure was to find the “biggest and most beautiful jewel in the world”…for some reason :P Along the way, they encountered a bitter anthropomorphic ice monster named Bigfoot. In later books, the kids join girls named Teresa and Trasa. Bigfoot also finds other monsters to join his side, such as Grislen, Lizard Eater, and The Devil. XD
If it sounds like Power Rangers or Big Bad Beetleborgs, that shouldn’t be a surprise. Those were my favorite TV shows at the time and they undoubtedly influenced me.
Funny enough, the actual idea for Shanin Adventures has been with me since I was 3 years old. I was so young when I came up with this story that my parents called my characters “imaginary friends.” It was a game I played with my childhood best friends, Robyn and Brandi. In the game, I was Tracy Shanin, Robyn was Teresa, and Brandi was Trasa. There was never a real counterpart for Drew. I think Drew was just my expression of how much I wanted a twin sibling. Anyway, it wasn’t until I was old enough to read and write that I bothered writing anything down.
Unlike last week’s Throwback Thursday, “The Outcasts”, which I will probably abandon as derivative and unsalvagable, Shanin Adventures has been a work in progress throughout my entire life. Some things have changed – Bigfoot is now Fri, and he’s a man reanimated from an icy grave. The world they occupy is no longer North Carolina, but a post-apocalyptic Israel. The main characters are still four siblings with (mostly) the same names. Even the “biggest and most beautiful jewel” comes into play, as the plot revolves around a mystical ruby dagger – which contains a divine shard leftover from the creation of the universe. Yes, Shanin Adventures went from a Power Rangers knockoff to a sweeping epic a la Dune that involves superpowered zombies and Kabbalah.
The original five books were written by hand when I was 6 and bound between cardstock like chapter books. I have transcribed one chapter of the first book below! For ease of reading, I have fixed the spelling and grammar (added quotations, etc). The actual story text has been unaltered.