Monday, November 2, 2009

Stuff To Spy For

© Don Bruns 2009 all rights reserved

Grown Up Hardy Boys. That's the rap my characters are getting in the Stuff series. STUFF TO SPY FOR comes out this week, and it's getting great reviews, but the majority of coverage brings up the Hardy Boys...all grown up. And that's pretty tough to live up to. My two protagonists, Skip and James, have been lifelong friends and have recently graduated from college. They partied a little too hard, got bad grades and are locked into some dead-end jobs. So they decide to buy a used box truck and go into business for themselves, making millions of dollars in the process. I will give away the ending. They aren't nearly as successful as they'd like to be. But, they do have an adventure that puts them in a number of dangerous situations.

Almost everyone I know started out reading the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. Edward Stratemeyer, an early 1900 publishing phenomenon, invented the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Tom Swift and other juvenile fiction heroes. He didn't want to write about what young people should be...he wanted to write stories about how kids wanted to be. And his action adventures live on today. Largely because kids want adventure in their lives. They want a best friend in their life. And they want to be heroes. I grew up on the Hardy Boys, and I'm sure, without consciously thinking about it, I transferred my love of the thrill seeking brothers Frank and Joe to Skip and James. But I write an older version of the teenage sleuths. With possibly an irreverent side to them. Skip and James are constantly jabbing one another with verbal asides, subtle put-downs and Skips' often wry take on life has been compared to Mark Twain's narrative. (Maybe that reviewer hadn't read Twain in a while)

So I'll accept grown up Hardy Boys, because I like to write stories that reflect what I would like to be. Not what I should be. I like the idea of a life-long friend. Someone you can poke fun at, but someone you'd give your life for and they'd give their life for you. I like the idea of getting in over my head (with a friend who is my back-up), and coming out as a hero. I like the idea of trying new things ( in STUFF TO SPY FOR the boys have become private investigators) and hoping one of them makes a million dollars. I like the idea of dating a rich attractive young lady ( as Skip does) And finally, I like the idea that while I'm writing about 24 year old guys, I don't have to grow up.

You often read that you should write what you know. My suggestion is, write what you want to be. There are millions of people out there who have the same fantasies that you do. Hopefully they'll read the book, lean back with eyes closed and say "Man, that's what I'd like to have happen to me."

About the author:

Don Bruns is an award-winning novelist, songwriter, musician, and advertising executive. He and his wife, Linda, divide their time between Lima, Ohio, and Sarasota, Florida.


Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Nice article. I always wanted to be in a Norman Rockwell painting. I loved Nancy Drew too. Life seemed so much more interesting and safer in her books. Even with the suspense.

s.w. vaughn said...

"Write what you want to be..." Now THAT is good advice. Way better than write what you know! Thanks, Don. :-)

Marta Stephens said...


I like the twist you've given to the old "write what you know." Fiction is such a fantastic means with which to explore the "what if" of this world. Yeah, write what you want to be!

Thanks so much for another great post and best of luck with "Stuff To Spy For!"