Tuesday, August 18, 2015



Nat Sheppard’s world is turned upside down on the first day of the school holidays by the discovery of a secret room containing cave maps with clues to an ancient treasure. But Nat and her friends soon discover they’re not the only ones chasing the jewels. Professional treasure hunters are on the trail – and they’re prepared to eliminate anyone in their way.

My Brothers & The Secret of Sinbad's Cave

by Brydie Walker Bain

Accepted wisdom is to write what you know. Growing up as the oldest of five children, there’s one thing I know; brothers. I have a sister too, but she arrived too late to be a useful ally. For most of the time it was my three brothers and me, the four of us only six years apart.

There is a photograph of me, wearing my father's shoes at age twenty months. I am sitting on my newborn brother Joseph in the bouncinette. I don't look happy to see him. When Fraser arrived I was three. Five when Chad turned up. There was a brief moment of being able to dress them up, but that pliability soon vanished in a clatter of karate moves and skateboarding tricks.

My brothers created a whirlwind of energy that dominated our household. Joe's mates would start arriving in the back yard every morning before school while I was still having breakfast. En masse, they'd wander down the road together.

Saturdays were soccer game days, but every other day was for soccer training. I can still remember the thump of the ball as Chad practiced against the garage door.

Some things, though, are best forgotten. I was at high school when a mini half-pipe was built for Fraser. When I mentioned that to him a few months ago he stared at me.
'Yes, and you broke it.'
I frowned. 'Did I?'
Yes,' he said. 'Old fatty sister put her foot right through.'
I was amazed. I had happily erased that from my memory.

Car rides were the worst. My parents tried to show us as much of the country as they could, a noble idea, except for the journey. Trapped together for hours on end, the intense physical energy of my three brothers would condense into ruthless verbal barbs and then culminate in a perfect punch swung across the seats. My mother would sternly instruct me to ignore them, but how could anyone ignore a catapulting, teasing, pinching mass of arms and bad jokes?

I plotted vicious revenge. I constructed perfect mud balls to throw at them. They were round and rock solid, stored up for the right moment. But I was easily derailed. For example, I remember the intense jealousy I felt when Joseph learned to whistle before me.

My father would tell me that in years to come, my brothers would be my best friends. I'd laugh bitterly, as only a twelve year old could. But Dad was right. I love them more than anything. Any time we get together it is hilarious - often at each other’s expense. There are still punches and terrible jokes. Catching up with my brothers is one of the things I most look forward to. I just wish they could remember my birthday.

Having grown up in a household of leaping yelling boys, I was compelled to create characters in my YA novel that were funny, loyal, and cheeky too.

The Secret of Sinbad's Cave could be described as Treasure Island meets Famous Five - with a mystical twist. Nat Sheppard and her friends find a series of cave maps that leads to ancient jewels, but they are pursued by ruthless treasure hunters that will do anything to stop them.

There are three boys in my story; Nat's brother Jack, and two good friends, Barnaby and Elijah. Although they're all on Nat's side, they never miss a chance to poke fun at her either.

Following is a brief excerpt. I think you’ll be able to see from where I drew my inspiration.

Excerpt from The Secret of Sinbad's Cave

Nat pulled to a perfect stop in front of the three boys. ‘Hi,’ she said. Her heart was beating wildly.

‘Old Splattercat,’ said Elijah. His dark hair was short and spiked, and his olive skin still wore a summer tan. ‘Good to see you again.’

‘You too,’ said Nat. ‘How’s boarding school?’

‘Good,’ said Elijah. ‘I’m in the First Eleven. Not bad for a fifteen year old aye!’

‘Nice,’ said Nat. She couldn’t believe how much he’d grown; especially across his shoulders.

Elijah was calm and in control, but Barnaby was always up to mischief. He had the same olive skin as his older brother, but Barnaby was skinnier. His long scruffy hair made him look like a surfer.

‘Hi Splat,’ said Barnaby. ‘Been climbing recently?’

Nat groaned. Not again.

‘You’ve got natural Splatter ability,’ continued Barnaby. ‘Remember when we were out bouldering, and you boasted that you’d perfected that really hard climb?’

‘Was that the one she demanded we watch?’ asked Elijah. A massive grin spread across his face.

‘Yep,’ said Barnaby. ‘What happened next? That’s right, you fell and winded yourself so bad we almost called the ambulance.’

‘I was quite worried,’ said Elijah.

‘I was too,’ said Jack.

‘Yeah right,’ said Barnaby. They all laughed.

‘Anyway,’ said Nat. ‘What are you guys doing here?’

‘We were biking home when we found Jack crying ‘cos he’d lost his sister,’ said Elijah.

Jack scoffed. ‘Whatever.’

‘Do you all know Riki?’ asked Nat.

‘Long time, no see,’ said Elijah. ‘How’s it going?’

‘Good,’ replied Riki. ‘Are you guys up for a mission?’

‘Absolutely,’ said Barnaby. ‘Does it involve finding the cave Jack’s been going on about?’

‘Not yet,’ said Nat. ‘We’re going to the Glowworm Cave.’

The boys groaned. Repeated school trips through the cave had dimmed their enthusiasm for the glowworms and formations.

‘Let’s go to a real cave,’ said Barnaby.

‘You just want to play in the mud,’ said Jack.

Barnaby smiled. ‘Yep!’

‘The thing is,’ said Riki, ‘we’re going into the cave with a tour – but not coming out with one.’

‘We’re staying the night?’ asked Elijah.

‘Probably not.’ Riki lowered her voice. ‘We’ll bust out once we find what we’re looking for.’

Barnaby leaned forward. ‘Which is?’

‘Sinbad’s lost treasure.’

‘I’m in,’ said Barnaby. He glanced around the group. ‘I think we all are.’

‘Excellent,’ said Nat. ‘Listen up – here’s the plan.’


Brydie Walker Bain is a playwright, poet and children's author. She studied History and Theatre & Film at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, and furthered her studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Brydie's plays have enjoyed readings in London, rave reviews and sell out audiences in Auckland, Hamilton and Waitomo. Her latest project is The Natnat Adventures. This young adult series successfully launched with The Secret of Sinbad's Cave, and continues with The Ship of Sight and The Hand of Shadow.

Contact Brydie:
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