Guest Post by Janet Fogg and Dave Jackson
co/authors of Misfortune Annie and the Locomotive Reaper
If adventure does call your name, pull up a horse for a wild ride with Misfortune Annie—the fastest draw in the 1880s west—at age 15!
What’s compelling to us is that a hero like Misfortune Annie truly could have existed. The real Annie Oakley fought amongst the toughest of wranglers and bested many a man in shooting contests. In fact, while still a teen, Annie Oakley earned enough money to pay off the mortgage on her mother’s farm.
To properly tell the origin of our Annie, we should travel back to the initial spark—George Lucas and the Indiana Jones series. It’s widely known by many Lucas fans that a rugged archaeologist character first showed up in old matinee serials, and George dusted him off for a new generation of movie lovers. When hoping to develop a story concept and character that could give Indy a run for his money, we found ourselves pondering the cowboy genre. Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger, Gene Autry—they were huge! Perhaps our new star should have a catchy name and signature duds. He would wear a ten-gallon hat and Levi jacket. But fate threw in a wildcard.
On Christmas vacation several years ago, nearly asleep behind the wheel through flat old Kansas, Dave passed a sign that boasted, “Annie Oakley Museum.” Jolted awake, he realized he had our new hero, a tough and tenacious teen, a cowgirl known by a memorable moniker.
Not only could we hopefully create a memorable hero, one to delight the young and the young at heart, we intended to focus on a somewhat lacking niche in middle-grade/YA fiction—an action hero for girls.
As storyboarding for the first book progressed, we carefully considered our villain. The era of the Wild West merges well with and complements Steampunk, so our villain evolved into a mad scientist, a mechanical engineer bent on revenge. Research into the technology of the 1880s—blimps and electricity—sealed the Locomotive Reaper’s powers.