24 Years of Front and Center

Yes, that’s for real!

If I wanted to get SUPER technical, it’s been going on in my mind longer than that even.

In 3rd grade, we were given creative writing prompts every Tuesday, right after the fluoride lady came around. I still have my collection of stories from that year (picture pending), and somewhere towards the middle is one titled “Whiskers.” I don’t know what the prompt was on that day, but it’s a. . .disturbing tale, about a half-human, half-cat girl who is thrown to Earth when her planet of cat people explodes, and from which she’s the only survivor. She meets and quickly befriends another girl, but it soon becomes apparent that a couple of “evil men” are out to capture her (for reasons I never specified). And, sure enough, after a few weeks of life on Earth, the men get her, pack her in a crate and mail her to Australia. She dies of starvation along the way. The end. 😐

Good thing I was in school in the late 80s/early 90s, cuz most of my stories ended with death, destruction, suicide, you name it, and no one batted an eye. In one of my earliest stories – in FIRST grade! – my father and I go camping and he shoots a bob cat because. . .reasons? There was nothing wrong with my home life, so I have NO IDEA why this was the case. Guess I’ve just always been drawn to dark tales!

3rdgraderecital

3rd grade ballet recital. So innocent, haha. (Blaming the black blob creeping the corner for any depravity!)

Whiskers stuck with me, and I’d start imagining her in situations similar to my own life. She did ballet. She rode horses (but she had a super cool golden horse named Griffin who could jump Puissance sized fences. . .like, who wouldn’t want that?). My F&C character Mike Cullen didn’t exist yet, so she just lived with some random guy from the show she was in. As years passed, her more fantastical elements began to drop away – no longer half cat, no longer an alien, shortened her name to Whisky instead, etc.

Then the pivotal moment in seventh grade occurred, when I was called down to Guidance and asked to escort a new girl around school during her entire first day. I have no idea why I, of all people, was picked, but I had no choice. The whole experience was super awkward– it was clear from the get go that she and I were not going to become friends. Naturally, when I replayed the scenario over in my mind with Whisky as my stand-in, I decided to make her day much worse. I also should mention that, at the time, I had a pen pal through some club for horse crazy kids by Miller’s saddlery, by the name of Randi Hirsch. I was totally jealous of her, she got to live in Kentucky AND owned several horses. Plus, I just liked her name.

7thgradesam

Yeah, getting all my body parts in the picture wasn’t a priority. Me in 7th grade, first horse show on Sam I Am.

So, I stole it. And with minor tweaks, Randi Hirst was born. Also, she was now a he.

The arrival of Randi is what I consider the series’/story’s “beginning,” hence why I say it started in 1993.

Although events between my two characters began rolling through my mind in real time, I didn’t write any of it down until 10th grade. And by that point, my 3rd MC TJ was in the picture. By that point, the story was getting too juicy NOT to start recording. :p As for where TJ came from. . .it’s complicated. Imma leave it at that for now (and NO he is not based off anyone I knew NOR was he modeled off direct life experiences at that time – let me repeat, I had a very normal [if busy] childhood/teen years!).

sleepingbeautymarket

Me in 10th grade. I didn’t play Little Red Riding Hood in Sleeping Beauty, but I *was* asked to dress up as her and help promote the show with some of the other Junior Company members (yes, in a market). I’ve always been an introvert, but I can turn it on when needed!

So there you go, a little bit of the LONG history of what I now call the Front and Center series. Who or what inspired your MCs? Leave a comment below, or connect with me on Twitter or Instagram (see links to the right).

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