Yesterday, a friend gave me a pointed, yet subtle, reminder that I had not posted recently. And of course, my friend was right. I haven’t been able to post for the past 10 days or so. But for once, I have a good excuse. I was at Spy Camp. Or to be more accurate, I was in co-charge of a day spy camp for girls aged 9-14 based on the Kiki Strike series of books. (I also came down with a mild case of flu, but that is a different story all together.)

At the camp, we spent the week trying to keep a secret treasure out of the hands of those who would loot it for their own personal ends. To do this, we had to “break into” several buildings, including the state capitol, and do a fair amount of reconnaissance. My character was the tech/theft expert and did things like pick pockets and crack encrypted messages. I also made every kid a fake Delaware ID to go with their alias. They were laminated and based on an organ donor card instead of a real ID, but the kids got a kick out of them. Here is what mine looked like:

On a side note, it turns out I’m kind of good at faking IDs. Perhaps I should give up publishing for a life of crime. It would probably involve less risk.

And should you ever discover that you need to create an alias, here are the same tips I gave the kids:

  • Use a name that is similar, but not too similar, to your own. For instance, my alias was Mattie which sounds an awful lot like Maddy, one of my real nicknames. I never once failed to turn around when someone called my name. Nothing gives away a fake name faster then forgetting that it is your name when someone is calling you.
  • Choose a friend’s birthday as your alias’s birthday. You need a birthday you can remember, so instead of choosing a holiday or just randomly making one up, choose a friend’s. However, try to choose a friend that would not come up on a standard comprehensive background check. So, no parents or close relatives and not your best friend since you were 5.
  • Try to choose a street name and number of a place that actually exists in the town you are claiming to live in. It would take authorities that much longer to discover the location’s inauthenticity.

How do I know so much about this? Well, it’s not from an active life of crime. It’s amazing what you can pick up from murder mysteries and shows like Law & Order and Without a Trace. I also think it’s common sense.

© Copyright 2006-2011 Madeline Smoot. All rights reserved.
May be excerpted and duplicated for educational purposes.
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