Understudy: An Online Series (2003)

2 min read

A young woman is given the most ludicrous opportunity of a lifetime: train to be a spy to clean up another spy’s mess. In Understudy: Operation Opening Night, we meet Marlene Griffith, a happy-go-lucky introvert whose most exciting time of her day is deleting spam from her e-mail inbox. Insecure but ready and willing to fight the good fight, Marlene loses herself in her maiden assignment and discovers more about herself than she ever thought possible.

Introduction to Understudy

The seeds of Understudy first began when I heard that Vin Diesel would not be returning for the sequel to Triple X. Apparently the producers wanted to introduce a new Xander Cage-like character within the franchise with each film. My idea was that if they can take regular Joes off the street and turn them into secret agents, why couldn’t they do it with girls with brains, instead of men with big guns?

All I had was an idea.

In the beginning, Understudy was called “The Magical Misadventures of Marlene Griffith, Secret Agent at Large,” and it was to be my entry into NaNoWriMo 2003. The goal of that contest is to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. I learned about the contest via a post on The Fanlistings message board. The Magical Misadventures of Marlene Griffith, Secret Agent at Large was to be my homage to Alias and Harry Potter, hence the words “magical misadventures” and “secret agent” in the original title.

Due to lack of time and avowed hatred of deadlines, I was never able to compete. But I liked the storyline, and the way the characters interacted on the page and in my head. I decided to write another novella, Operation Sleeping Beauty, which further pushed the character’s boundaries, as well as my own. By doing so, it propelled me to write more.

However, the writing demon died. It caused me to shelve the series in 2004. I have been poking at it off and on since but I wanted it to happen organically. I am beholden to no one when it comes to my work. I know a lot of the writing advice in the world says you can’t call yourself a writer unless you put words on the page. But I couldn’t sort out how I wanted the series to go. I decided to try posting it online again in 2012 to see if it would inspire me again. I think I’m ready.

All references to people, places, and things are entirely fictional. Characters, code names, and other stuff of that nature are indirectly based on people or things I know. If you see yourself in a character or read a familiar storyline, congratulations, you’re famous!

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