I was about eight years old and my neighbor, Spencer, and his mother invited me on a day trip to Shark Tooth Island. (A small sandbar island off of St. Petersburg Beach, Florida). I thought the island’s name had to do with the shape of it, which was a crescent. Yes, I know shark teeth are not crescent-shaped, NOW. This was about 1978, and the idea signed waivers were laughable. They hooked me up to a parachute harness and to a motorboat. I was about to become a human kite.

Parasailing was very new and we not exactly the sea sport it is now with special harnesses and parachutes. Maybe I was one of the first parasailers, who knows. There were a few kids and a lot of beer drinking adults on that small seagrass covered patch of sand. Think about the size of a regular McDonald’s parking lot.

The motorboat sped away, the rope attached to me went taut and I was airborne. Woohoo! I’m the king of the world. I was flying high about the water and could see the city of St. Petersburg off in the distance. I took a few turns around the island and noticed something in the water.

Yep, there were sharks swimming all around the island. I was panicked. I hoped I would land back on the small island and not in the water. In order for you to begin to descend, the boat has to slow and then stop, and then you let gravity take its course. I was not a professional paratrooper and the whole rig I was secured to was iffy. I landed about ten feet offshore- screaming. A couple of adults, staggered into the water and pulled me in.

I don’t recall much else that afternoon, except I was ready to GO.

The idea of Shark Tooth Island stuck in my head, and as I was writing a high seas adventure I knew I wanted to include it. It is where Max’s Uncle Einon lives as a sort of hermit. There are a number of wild animals on the island, which is much larger than the real island of my youth. It is covered with trees, and Uncle Einon hunts the animals for their hides, which he sells on merchant row at the docks in Paradisi. Shark Tooth Island only gets a quick mention, but in later books in the Secrets of the Twilight Djinn series, there will be more action on this island as we learn more about Uncle Einon.

What is the most terrifying experience from your youth? I’d love to hear about it.