The series came about in three ways: 50% filling a void, 30& writing about
something I know and 20 % wanting to offer something new and different.
Filling the Void
I was a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Alias. I’m all about female empowerment ad Buffy and Sid embodied that element. They’re from the school of “I am woman, here me roar” and “Anything guys can do, females can do better.” I think the characters they portrayed were great role models for teenage girls. They proved that females could be both strong and feminine. I wanted to create a series with a character like that. I did some research and discovered a few series with African-American MC’s, but nothing like what I had in mind: Harriet the Spy meets Nancy Drew, with an AA main character. My then sixteen-yr-old niece was the inspiration behind Draven Atreides. The pictures of the young girl you see on this site are of her. She’s smart, funny and so level-headed for someone so young. In a way, I wanted her to have her own story, bragging rights so to speak.
Writing What You Know
I was born and have lived the majority of my life in Phoenix, AZ. As much as I’d love to move elsewhere, I don’t think there’s any other place—in the U.S., that is—with weather like Arizona. We have spring, summer, fall…and a cold snap for about three months. Gotta love it. Phoenix, AZ is what I know, so it’s where the series is based. In this series, you will get to know my town—well, the parts that pertain to Draven anyway.
With the explosion of teen espionage series (The Specialists by Shannon Green, Fearless by Francine Pascal, Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter), I wanted to go a different route. I liked the idea of the whole teen-working-for-a-secret-agency storyline, but not sure I wanted to include the bells and whistles that was the norm. After attending a local NAWW (National Association of Women’s Writers) meeting in which the guest speaker had been an FBI agent in the Cyber Fraud Unit, the idea gelled.
She could be an informant! A downscaled teenage version of Sidney Bristow, if you will. My intention was to interview a female agent, to get a little perspective from the female point of view. I didn’t realize the hoops you had to jump through just to get permission. No note from my Mom was needed, but I did have to explain where I came up with my MC’s name and tell them my social security number. In the end, I never got a chance to actually meet the agent. We exchanged one email and even then, all my questions went unanswered. Instead, I was given a link to the FBI page indicating their stand on the use of informants:
“The courts have recognized that the government’s use of informants is lawful and often essential to the effectiveness of properly authorized law enforcement investigations. However, use of informants to assist in the investigation of criminal activity may involve an element of deception, intrusion into the privacy of individuals, or cooperation with persons whose reliability and motivation may be open to question. Although it is legally permissible for the FBI to use informants in its investigations, special care is taken to carefully evaluate and closely supervise their use so the rights of individuals under investigation are not infringed. The FBI can only use informants consistent with specific guidelines issued by the Attorney General that control the use of informants.”
Compared to the other teen espionage series, this one will be very “clean.” By clean, I mean Draven will not be handling any dangerous weapons, going through any special physical training (the Sunday afternoon kung-fu lessons don’t count), or traveling to exotic locations. What you will see in this series: a little of Phoenix and its surrounding cities, and interesting tidbits at the beginning of each chapter pertaining to her assignments.
I hope you enjoy reading about Draven’s assignments as much as I loved writing about them.
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