Monday, August 17, 2015

Creating the Casefiles

Here's a quote from an interview with one the Hardy Boys ghostwriters, Bill McCay. It describes how the more mature Hardy Boys Casefiles series was created.

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?

5 comments:

baby bear said...

I would have her know karate or some kind of martial arts; that way she could have that in her back pocket when confronting the criminals. Another interesting twist would be to have her be in college and have that kind of backdrop to her stories. I would also give Ned some kind of long term job that could help Nancy (like a pilot or even an investigative reporter which would be extremely awesome.)

Abby said...

I would make Ned & Nancy get engaged ( I mean for pete's sake, they've been dating for like 80 years or so) and I would have Hannah Gruen have a heart attack or something and die (she's old as heck) and I would have Mr. Drew get a girlfriend (high time!!) and George get a job with the Federal Government and Bess a job with a magazine. Both jobs could help a mystery.

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Anonymous said...

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Elentarien said...

I think I'd have her story become A. More consistent with itself. No changing details from book to book. and B. Have her age a little. Or, have a couple 'series' of novels of Nancy at various ages/stages of life.

IE, she's been 16, dating Ned for 80 years. This is a great point for 'young adult' readers. Children and 'teens'. I think I've seen some 'grade school' version of Nancy on some of the newer books too. Thats great. But how about a more mature version? Say, when she is 25 or 30, and written more for adults. Could be the odd murder mystery in there (not all of them. . .please!!! I have NO complaint with murder mysteries. . .except for the adult mystery scene seems to forget there are other types of mysteries out there and thats almost all you see. The variety of the Nancy Drew books is WONDERFUL. But. . .they could use the odd murder mystery. lol - Guess you could say one side goes too far and the other not far enough?), have her married/engaged to Ned, maybe her detective business has 'established' itself into being a licensed PI.

Granted, she could have married someone other than Ned. But I don't think her fans would appreciate him being left out in favour of some other guy we've never met. So. . .just stick with him. Maybe let him grow up and actually HELP in the mysteries sometimes, like Bess and George do (in the books, at least.)