Hiding in Plain Sight   4 comments

If your character wanted to wear a disguise, how would they dress?

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How the CIA Trains Spies to Hide in Plain Sight | WIRED

Which Character?

It would be very different depending on my characters, right? Shane (in Transformation Project) would choose differently than his brother Cai or his friend Jazz. Padraig (in Daermad Cycle) would choose differently than Tamys and Gregyn lives his entire life as a ruse. Peter (in What If Wasn’t) would probably love to be someone else right about now, but who would he choose to be?

So Many Choices

Shane Delaney aka Eric Faraday

Shane and Javier from Transformation Project each spent about a half-decade pretending to be someone they’re not. They were government contractors. Shane infiltrated a militia and then later was a double agent in B&W’s Knight Industries. He didn’t really need to alter his appearance, though he did alter his identity. Now that he’s done with that, he occasionally eludes to going “off the map” during his mercenary career.

“I drove a truck into Shalimar Province wearing a kaffiyeh and dark contacts.”

The Delaney’s Indian ancestry runs strongly in Shane. His hair is dark and curly (like the Metis of my tribe’s history). He tans a deep brown. His eyes are dark green, but colored contacts takes care of that. He’s not as dark as some Middle Easterners, but he fit in well enough so long as he kept his mouth shut because though he learned to speak some of the local language, he was by no means fluent.

Having done it before, I would think that would be his disguise of choice now.

When he and Mike Sanchez were in Santa Fe, Shane hid behind dark glasses, his tan and speaking Chicano Spanish. In the Transformation Project universe, Santa Fe has become a separate country where speaking Spanish is the best way to stay alive.

Javier Chavez aka Bobby Noreen aka Martin Pulgarin

Javier Chavez infiltrated the Naharis Network, an affiliation of Islamist terrorists that seem to have been involved in the massive nuclear attacks that started the series. Javier was born in Columbia, but raised in foster care in the United States. As Bobby Noreen, he claimed to be a part-black, part-Hispanic felon who converted to Islam while in prison. He grew his dark hair long and curly and learned Ebonics and Arabic.

When he fled his government agency duties, he shaved his head to make it harder to identify him. The character of Martin was a sheet rocker from White Plains, New York. Javier has let his chrome dome grow out a little since coming to Emmaus, but he still isn’t sure which is the real him.

Grant Rigby

The King of Disguises among my characters is Grant Rigby, long-time employee of the Central Security Agency. Shane never expected to see him in the same guise twice. As Shane’s handler, Grant didn’t want anyone to trace the guy talking to Shane in the coffee shop back to his family and so he excelled at hiding behind disguises. He visits Shane in his house once and looks like a redneck mechanic — plaid flannel shirt, gimme hat, grease on his hands. When he meets Shane in a coffee shop, he’s dressed like a businessman. Shane remembers meeting him once in Miristan and Grant looked so much like a local (in thawb and ghutra), Shane almost shot him. In his real life, Grant is ordinary – light-brown hair, blue eyes, medium-height, medium-weight — exactly the kind of guy nobody notices because he looks like everyone else, a perfect canvas to be someone else, anyone else.

Hiding in Plain Sight

With the exception of Grant, none of my characters is a thespian. They don’t know how to create fake noses or the other makeup techniques to change their appearance, but they have successfully pretended to be other people in the pursuit of information.

I don’t know how Grant would dress. I think he doesn’t know until he is faced with the need to infiltrate somewhere. Shane prefers not to change his appearance too much because he isn’t uncomfortable in his own skin as a rule. He struggles with his past actions, not with how he looks. He can fake being Middle Eastern or Hispanic and since he is white, he can choose a Caucasian role. That covers a lot of the world. Javi, however, grew up in a situation where being himself wasn’t always a good thing and so I think he’d enjoy being someone else entirely. His choices are limited because he’s so dark, but then again – Jessica Alba managed to believably play a blonde in the Fantastic Four. But what would Javi choose? He hasn’t told me. If he ever needs to disguise himself again, I’m sure he’ll let me know how to dress him.

4 responses to “Hiding in Plain Sight

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  1. It’s very interesting to learn about your characters and how they have disguised themselves in the past and would be likely to disguise themselves going forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My sister is a cosplayer. it’s amazing to see how much of a difference a simple change in hair color and style can make.


  3. I don’t get it, but I have characters change their “style” based on need, job, reaction to events, necessity (like lost clothing, inappropriate footwear… One has to get a publicity makeover, many adopt the “vocational sartorial rhetoric” of particular gig. None go completely undercover or on the lam. Well, one does, but the costume is minimal. Maybe something to ponder.


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