Besides the emphasis on plot, the Hardy Casefiles put a premium on action. These books were aimed at the same boys audience as comic books, Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, and shoot-em-up computer games. When we were laying the groundwork for the new Hardy Boys series, the publisher asked me, "Bill, if you could do anything with the Hardy Boys, what would you change?"
A loaded question. I answered, "I'd blow up that yellow sedan they've been driving since 1930 . . . and I'd have Iola Morton (Joe Hardy's girlfriend) in the back seat when it went up."
For a second, I thought the poor man was going to have a stroke. He sat up very straight, looked at me, then said, "What happens next?" That was our first Casefiles.
Why did I give such an outrageous answer? Well, the yellow sedan gave a completely different cultural message back when the Hardy Boys first came out. That was still the era when Henry Ford could say, "You can have any color you like -- as long as it's black." A red or yellow car meant it was a sporty model. A sedan meant -- wink-wink, nudge-nudge -- it had a back seat. Today, you hear "yellow sedan," especially in New York, and you think "taxicab."
As for blowing up Iola, I wanted to serve notice that no character was safe and that the Hardys should investigate the most serious of crimes -- murder. I'd fought for that when my company, Megabooks, revamped Nancy Drew, and I thought the boys should play for equally serious stakes. We were trying to be as serious as possible -- besides mystery, the Casefiles would draw heavily from the thriller and spy novel genres.
If you could do anything with Nancy Drew, what would you change?