The Hardy Boys: Providing Young People With Mystery For Over 85 Years

Almost 35 years ago I became a detective series fanatic. It started when I was six with the Bobbsey Twins and then quickly turned into an obsession with Nancy Drew and her mystery solving peers The Hardy Boys. Young readers today are still intrigued by the mystery solving antics of the Hardy brothers, Frank and Joe, completely unaware that they started helping the police catch the bad guys way back in 1927.

Unlike the two sets of twins, and Ms. Drew, the Hardy Boys detective antics are often more complex and dangerous. While Bert, Nan, Flossie and Freddy were busy finding lost treasure inside of chimney’s, Frank and Joe were helping their policeman father catch criminals. The stories were always intriguing and over time evolved into more complex, and even more dangerous adventures.

Nothing ever seems to get in the way of the brothers and their focus on solving the mystery and restoring normalcy to their home town. Still popular characters in children’s mystery genre, the brothers are now the main characters in a series known as the The Hardy Boys Adventures. These new stories take the boys out of their small hometown and to exotic locales around the world, where intrigue seems to always follow them.

They have grown up slightly over the years as well. The original books had the brothers at 15 and 17 years old. Today they are 16 and 18 and no longer have to solve all of the towns mysterious events on foot. Various stories have them riding around in their own detective mobile. There are even some where the boys don Arai motorcycle helmets and take off separately in pursuit of a suspect.

The use of items like motorbike safety gear that are backed by reviews like helmets and even seat belts in the car is one of the biggest differences in the Hardy Boys of today compared to the ones that were introduced in 1927. Pre World War II, the boys were depicted as rebels, who had little regard for the law. Neither one would have bothered with motorcycle helmets before speeding off. By 1959, the world had changed and the books were revised to make them more universally appealing.

The whitewashing of the Hardy Boys did little to stop kids of all ages to continue to buy them. The stories were still compelling, and I know for me, it was great fun to live vicariously through them. Searching for clues and interviewing suspects was something that every young kid would have loved to get to do.

If you are looking for a way to introduce a young person in your life to the great adventures in mystery story telling, start with The Hardy Boys. With close to 100 years worth of stories under the belt, it is obvious that they are doing something right.

Writing Mystery For Children

Writing for children is a skill that not every author will possess because it doesn’t involve dumbing down or just using small words, it means thinking at a different level. To write for children, you have to remember that they are adept at knowing when someone is treating them like a kid and hate it. So while the most elaborate vocabulary isn’t going to mean much to them, making it too basic won’t work.

Basicskids in mystery stories

According to successful children’s mystery writers there are two main categories of plots; the crimes that are solved by amateur sleuths, often of a young age or the mysterious happening that the main character has to understand and deal with before it’s too late.

The stories that reach to children’s imagination best are ones they can relate to – the main character must have a connection to the victim and the villain of the piece and the villain must have a strong motive for what he or she did. However, the villain must remain ‘bad’ and while they know why they did it, it shouldn’t evoke sympathy or understanding for the reader, just acknowledgement that they had their reasoning.

Popular crimes

Some of the most common crimes to writer about are ones that children can understand; robbery, arson, blackmail, kidnapping, computer crimes or dangerous behaviours like hacking or joyriding. Mysterious happenings can be anything from a strange disappearance, a haunting or a series of inexplicable events.

It is found that kids respond better when the child sleuth sees something that helps them solve the crime instead of being smarter than the adults are. Alternatively, it may be because the villain has underestimated them because they are a kid. If they need a special skill to solve the mystery, such as being clever with codes, make sure it is planted early in the story rather than them suddenly having the ability when needed.


When setting the events of the story, remember the restrictions that are placed on children these days. They wouldn’t be out roaming around town in the middle of the night or playing on the beach or in the woods unless it was right next to their home. It needs to be something they can relate to now, as opposed to what things might have been like when you, the author, was their age.

Apart from the central trio of characters – the hero, the villain and the victim – make sure you keep supporting cast realistic. A serious mystery won’t have talking cats but it might have a dog that using its highly adapted sense of smell, tracked down a clue. Animals in the book are something kids can relate to but make them a part of the story, rather than just a cute factor. If you are thinking about adding a cat to your family, you can to go for advice and information on cat related accessories.

Moving through the story, it is important to keep giving out clues and adding more depth to the characters so the reader wants to continue on with the story. They also want to feel like they are solving the mystery themselves so don’t make the ending so obscure that they would never guess it, nor too obvious that they figure it out half way through.


For an insight into what kids are into at any time, scan the internet for children’s mystery sights, like These sites have interactive puzzles and clues to be solved and can give you a glimpse into what is working for kids to then help inspire your story.

How To Start Writing A Blog

The main benefit of blog writing is the main downside – you don’t get paid for it. This gives you the freedom to write about whatever you want without having to restrict to what someone else wants covering but it means it isn’t a source of income. However, if you are looking for a creative outlet and have a subject you are passionate about, it is a perfect idea. There are some fantastic free blogging pages that allow you to build a blog simply and effectively then fill it with whatever you love. There can be wants of making a little money from blog too.

How to start a blog

The first thing you are going to decide is what you are going to blog about. For most people, this is automatic: it’s the thing you care about the most or enjoy the most. For instance, for one person it may be traveling and writing about the places they have visited with a few of their own photos in. For another person, it may the antics of their cats and what life is like living with them.

There are lots of platforms as mentioned that can be used to start your blog, the most popular being WordPress and Blogger. These allow you to either write your pieces directly on the site to upload to the blog or copy them from a word processing document. They also give you a number of free themes to decorate the background of your blogs and layouts how best to display your work.

What to write about

There will be plenty of obvious things that will occur to you to write about but it can also be important to add in blogs around your topic. Going back to the examples for the travel writer, give some tips about traveling to a certain country especially if they have rules about any aspect of entry. Talk about particular sites in a place even if you didn’t visit them yourself.

Or for the cat lover blog consider discussing the best wet and dry cat food or the best clumping cat litter. Click here for more information on the best clumping litter. This will bring readers to your blog who are seeking information and ideas who will then hopefully read other pieces you have written.

How you write and how long the blogs are can be a personal choice. Some good tips are to write properly – don’t use too many abbreviations or slang words as if readers aren’t from your country they may not understand. Also, try to keep your pieces from dating so that in twelve months’ time, what you write about will still get readers.

Can you make money?

You can make money from blogging, though it may be more of a trickle than a flood to begin with. The larger your reader base is and the more people that visit your blog, the more chance that you can be accepted onto something like Google AdSense. This is a program where adverts are placed on your blogs, of which you have some control, and as people view and click these, you earn little amounts of money. But the important part is to have a good blog that gets people reading and coming back to it to be able to consider making money from it.

Distinguishing Characteristics

Harry Potter

You don’t have to be a fan of old movies to know that whenever a gentleman wearing a bowler hat, holding a cane and waddling rather than walking appears on screen that it’s Charlie Chaplin as his signature character, the Little Tramp. The character’s innocent mischievousness is so endearing that his appeal transcended cultural evolution and remains as beloved today as when Chaplin introduced him to audiences 100 years ago.

Although the Little Tramp was created for film, he’s a good example of how certain physical characteristics—the waddle walk and clumsy nature—and even props—like ever-present walking canes(See it on Amazon here)—can not only give characters personality, but also long-lasting recognition with fans. Read on for more examples of how authors developed distinguishing characteristics for their characters.

Ian Fleming’s James Bond

When he walks into some exotic bar and orders one very particular drink, you know immediately who is taking center stage. Of course, the others in the bar need to discover his identity, too. So, without missing a beat, the man introduces himself to the gorgeous woman sitting next to him as, “Bond, James Bond.” It would be impossible to picture this iconic super spy of both literature and cinema without some fancy suit and martini in hand…shaken not stirred, of course.

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter

We’ve experienced Harry Potter growing up in the pages of the seven-book series. His battles against the dark wizard, Voldemort, and all of his (frankly, incredibly dangerous) adventures have tested Harry’s maturity with each new term at Hogwarts. But just pause a moment and try to envision how young Mr. Potter would look without that defining lightning-bolt scar or rounded spectacles. Nor could the plot evolve without his wand. In book one, the wand seemed like just another odd school supply, but by the last entry, Rowling revealed how pivotal it was to the entire story.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Frodo

One ring to find them, one ring to rule them, one ring to make a character. Frodo’s great quest to destroy the ring of power in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy thrust multiple changes upon him. Almost nothing resembling the naive young hobbit who left his uncle’s home in the Shire remained. There was one thing, one fundamental item that distinguished him from his fellow hobbits who aided on the journey, the ring of Sauron. While Frodo took physical possession of the ring, the band became a character onto itself, always whispering and plotting its own goals. Frodo and the ring had different agendas, but readers will forever link them together.

Sydney Newman’s The Doctor

The Doctor, more commonly known as Doctor Who, has undergone many a transformation over the years. From looks, personality, demeanor, everything changed with each regeneration of this infamous time lord. One may wonder, with each incarnation making the Doctor an entirely new and different person, what is his trademark? Through all the transformations, his starship remains the same. There’s also his trusty all-in-one tool, the sonic screwdriver, which is useful for anything and everything the Doctor could possibly need.

Illustrated Examples

Perhaps the fictional characters with the most distinctive trademarks are comic book heroes and villains. Their outfits are more than costumes, they are part of the mystique. Their gadgets are more than an interesting plot twist, they are key to the super powers that set them apart from mere mortals. The bad guys also have unique attributes, often identified by their names, such as the Sandman, Joker, and Sinestro.

So when developing a story’s characters, think about how you can set them apart by giving them specific names, behaviors, physical qualities or even props that will become their trademarks.

5 Ways To Make Your Characters Appear Crazy

It wouldn’t be a complete story without a character who just seems to be a bit off their rocker. This character can just be a side character who adds mystery and tension to a location or, aids or hinders the protagonist along in the story. He or she doesn’t have to be the main story or the lead to have depth and feel to the character’s development. It’s more than to simply say that a character is ‘crazy’, and it’s crucial to dissect what signals a person to appear crazy. What would make you a bit nervous to be around them at some times? Or what would make you second guess their opinion due to the ground that their mind isn’t all there?

Here are 5 ways to make your characters appear crazy so your reader feels the crazy as much as you do:

Mumbling and Talking to Oneself

Taking to no one in particular or to oneself often isn’t the best sign that this person is in the best mental health. When in contact with a character who is speaking to themselves or mumbling, it forces uncomfortable interaction, making your main character at the time appear in an out of the ordinary situation.

Wearing Too Much Makeup

How much makeup a character is wearing should be commented on to present a picture to the audience of what personality that character has. If a character is more prone to going all natural and skipping the makeup, they are more than likely down to earth and easy to please, and not worried with materialistic items and social pretenses. Someone who is wearing too much makeup and mascara on the other hand shows insecurities and secrets to be covering up. It can appear trash and just untidy. A character who is wearing too much has no idea what social limits are and thinks a bit crazily.

Hearing or Seeing Things

When a character keeps hearing a ringing or some noise that no other character can hear is a sign of craziness. This person has other thoughts and crazy images and noises in their head that is consuming their real life and blurring the line of what is real and what isn’t. A character who doesn’t have control of recognizing what is real and what merely in his head, is crazy and can be a turning point for a character in a story line.


The spooky lady who lives on top of the dark hill far away from neighbors seems to be a bit more crazy than the character who lives in an apartment complex. Setting is key in reflecting the mental nature of a character as an environment influences a character’s actions and moods. Temperament also comes into play when a character feels isolated in their head. They can be shut out from regular dialogue with characters that are less crazy.

Not Talking

As opposed to mumbling and talking to oneself, a character who simply stay silent no matter what is seen to be crazy to the other characters. They appear to be talking inside their head, or even crazier, not even talking in their head or thinking at all.

Are Thriller Series A Good Thing?

Thriller novel seriesIt seems like the current trend is to write not one book about a character or even two but ten or twelve or more. The idea of a sequel to a book or film was at one time viewed as just a money spinner – you did well from the first one so why not rehash the characters, add a new plot and do it all again.

However, the modern series of books based around a set of characters offer a lot more than just an add-on product. It used to be you bought a shampoo for oily hair and had to buy a conditioner for oily hair and that was that. Whereas now, there is a full range of products for oily hair and they all do a job in their own right.

The thing I really like about serials is that you get to see a character (and sometimes the writer) evolve just like a real human being. They go through the ups and downs of life, albeit on a slightly different scale to us mere humans. They have friendships and relationships and family problems and even if the story is something wild, like a horror title, you can still relate to them somewhat.

Detective DD Warren

One of the top rated serials on Goodreads at the moment is Fear Nothing by Lisa Gardner. This is the seventh in the Detective DD Warren series and revolves around a Boston detective. The latest instalment sees her attacked at a crime scene and badly injured but unable to remember what happened.

James Patterson

James Patterson is one of the biggest names in the thriller business and his Women’s Murder Club series is proving as popular as his Alex Cross books. The 13th volume is called Unlucky 13 and finds Detective Lindsey Boxer at a car crash with victims that have clearly suffered more than a vehicle accident.

Lincoln Rhyme

The character of Lincoln Rhyme from Jeffrey Deaver is well known in books and in films and seems to have been around for a long time. The eleventh story in his career is called The Skin Collector and surrounds a tattooist with a torture chamber who poisons people. Rhyme and associate Amelia Sachs have to unravel clues left to them on the skin of the deceased to track down the murderer.

Patricia Cornwell

Patricia Cornwell is another massive name in thriller writing and so is her character Kay Scarpetta. Dust is the 21st in the series and sees the Chief Medical Examiner investigating the murder of a computer engineer whose body was left outside the gates of MIT.


The biggest decision when buying a book that is part of a series is do you buy the current one which is the most recent or do you go back to the beginning and start from number one? On the other hand, of course, you could just go out and buy the first one and the last one, then a few in the middle then a couple either side of that…


At The Hands of A Paperback

“That moment when you finish a book, look around, and realize that everyone is just carrying on with their lives as though you didn’t just experience emotional trauma at the hands of a paperback.”

It’s embarrassing to get attached to a book to the point where you’re crying on the train or while sitting at the corner table in your local Starbucks. When I get anywhere near an emotional breakdown from the plot line of a book, I stuff my bookmark between the watered pages and hold off until I’m in the comfort of my own home where no one can see my tears. I have always felt that reading a book is a personal experience because you are connecting on a deeper close to the heart way. You are developing your own opinion on the plot with your mind and your likes and dislikes for the actions of the characters are where the heart strings are pulled tight or lose.

Let’s talk about Nicholas Sparks. My apologies for not being original and less typical but who are we kidding? Nicholas Sparks’ novels are the greatest tear jerkers in the world. I remember a couple years back, before the film adaptation was released in theaters, I was sitting on my bed with the windows open, the sun shining in, and The Lucky One spotted with my tears. I won’t ruin the plot for those of you who have not read it before, but Sparks’ goal has to be to make his readers cry or at least feel heartache. WHY?! I hate crying (ruins my mascara) to begin with but why must he torture us sappy romantic types? He doesn’t just intrigue us with the beautiful love story printed on a few hundred pages but he also throws in a few curveballs. They fly through our chests and snap our heart strings. He’ll jerk, yank and pull until they tear.

When I read The Lucky One, I raced through the pages hungry for a romance that I wished could be seen in the world around us. I laughed and I cried (and totally ruined my mascara). I was angry, happy and sad all at once. I wanted the book to end so the pain would stop at the peak of the plot line, but at the same time I wanted to start all over at page one.

I finished the book in less than twelve hours but after reading the last page, I just sat in my room for another half hour…alone. Like the quote I mentioned in the beginning, I felt like I had just been through a traumatic experience and no one around me cared. They didn’t have an inkling of a clue about the ups and downs of the lives of Logan and Beth. It astounds me to this day how a few hundred pieces of paper, bound and printed, could affect my emotions so much. Of course, I don’t let that stop me from reading because without it I wouldn’t be able to experience other worlds beyond my own.

How Cars Impact Mystery Films

We see cars (even big 7-passenger vehicles and large SUVs) in nearly every movie we see these days and most of the time they are nothing more than just passing props in the background.


There are however those instances where they are a more vital part in the movie and become nearly as important as their actor counterparts. Think back to some of the great mystery movies you have seen. Do you remember all the times a character sat in a car during a stakeout or each time an ominous looking car slowly rolled down the street before or after a major scene commenced? I’m sure now that I have mentioned it many different important, exciting and suspenseful scenes come to mind and they all revolve around a car.

A good stakeout scene or two is an important part of any good mystery movie and you can’t have a good stakeout scene without a car (well you can, but it is far less interesting). For the most part we see tan or dark blue cars with tinted windows as the car of choice and for good reason. Nothing about a nondescript, plain Jane car says “Hey over here! I’m on a stakeout”, so they are by and large the perfect car to set a stakeout scene in any mystery movie. Just writing this I can see my favorite actor in my mind, with a cup of coffee in hand and slouched behind the wheel of a tan car with tinted windows watching his/her subject. Some movies also use police cars of both the marked and unmarked variety although less common because if a bad guy in a mystery movie is up to no good, he will surely stop if they see a police car sitting across from their house or work.

I can’t think of a mystery movie without thinking about a surveillance team sitting in a van surrounded by all kinds of electronic gadgets, everything from computers to listening devices. In mystery movies these vans are often disguised as flower delivery vans, cable or telephone vans and plumbers. Much like the cars used for stakeout, not many people would side a work van or delivery van, well unless you’re like me and watch too many mystery movies. The scenes in surveillance vans usually lead up to a major break in the story of a mystery movie and are all the more exciting because we usually get to see our protagonist spring into action.

What good mystery movie would be complete without a fast, seemingly boring car that looks like an ordinary, but has the engine of a race car? The answer to that is simple – there isn’t a good mystery movie without a race car in disguise! We usually don’t see this type of car at peak performance until the protagonist has to leap into action and throw his car into gear, leading us on a high speed chase to solve the mystery. In this case I have noticed that the car often fits the character in the sense that it seems like a simple unassuming car/character until in a pinch when their true colors shine. This is truly a perfect example of what an integral part of a mystery movie a car is and how they are true characters in and of themselves.

Famous Films From Thriller Novels

During a recent family gathering, the conversation turned to the Alex Cross film, which one of us had recently been watching.  To my surprise, some of those gathered didn’t realize that this film started off life as a novel by thriller writer James Patterson.

This started a conversation around the gas grill about famous thriller films which were books before they were films.  Here are some of the famous ones we came up with.

The 39 Steps (originally 1935)

This was a British thriller made in 1935 and directed by Alfred Hitchcock.  It was based on the ideas from the 1915 adventure novel of the same name by John Buchan, where a London man attempts to help counter-espionage agents stop a group called the 39 Steps.  The bad guys are attempting to steal top secret information but when the agent is killed, the man is accused of the murder and goes on the run (with an attractive lady in tow) to stop the spies and prove his innocence.

Cape Fear

Cape Fear was originally made in 1962 starring Gregory peck and Robert Mitchum.  It was adapted from the novel called The Executioners by John D MacDonald about an attorney whose family is stalked by a man he had sent to prison.  It was remade in 1991 by Martin Scorsese.

Alex Cross thriller movieThe Poseidon Adventure

This was a film which was made in 1972, remade and seen numerous spin-offs since, all of which came from a book of the same name by Paul Gallico.  The plot centred on the SS Poseidon, a luxury liner on her final voyage from New York to Athens, which is overturned by a tsunami.  People are trapped inside, and the film follows their attempts to escape.

Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs is probably one of the better known adaptations from a book, namely due to the accompanying books which have since been released.  It was written in 1988 by Thomas Harris and turned into a film in 1991 starring Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster.  The film was only the third at the time to have won all five of the top Academy Awards; best picture, actor, actress, director and best writing.


Sahara is a 2005 action adventure starring Matthew McConaughey, which was based on the novel of the same name from prolific writer Clive Cussler.  In typical Cussler style, it has lost treasure, shipwrecks in strange places and deadly plagues created by the bad guys.  The film is very much like the book in theme, though some of the specifics are a little different.

Alex Cross

As mentioned, the one that started the conversation, this 2012 thriller was directly by Rob Cohen and stared Tyler Perry as the main character.  This was actually the third time this character had been the centerpiece of a film, following Kiss the Girls (1997) when he was played by Morgan Freeman and in Along Came a Spider (2001).  These were all based on the series of novels by James Patterson, one of the best-selling authors in the world who has sold over 300 million copies of his numerous books.

Jack Reacher

Similar to Alex Cross, Jack Reacher is the main character in a series of novels by Lee Child.  The plot for the film was adapted from the 2005 book One Shot and starred Tom Cruise as the lead character.  It was written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie and released in 2012.  The film centered around a sniper shooting in Pittsburgh and the man arrested for the crimes requested Reacher, a former US Army Military Police Corps officer, to investigate.

Agatha Christie

Arguably the best-known mystery novelist of her time, Agatha Christie has written her way into the hearts (and sleepless nights!) of many of her readers over the past hundred years. Movies, shows, and other pop culture references have been made not only about her stories, but about her life.

She was even made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II in 1971. Ultra-popular, she will always live on thanks to the quality of her work

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe

In this war-time 1940 mystery novel, Hercule Poirot stars as the oft-used Belgian detective solving murders and mysteries.

The book starts off with Poirot confronted with the death of his dentist due to a fatal gunshot wound. The reader would be forgiven for thinking that perhaps the dentist had tried talking to the murderer one too many times while he had tools in the patients mouth, or that he chastized the murderer for not taking seriously the benefits of flossing.

That isn’t actually the case, of course, so the detectives must set about figuring out what actually happened. It is apparent suicide at first, but that quickly changes when Poirot discovers some crooked details that throws the case into something worthy of a Christie novel.

Eventually, though Poirot sympathizes with the killer in some sense, he turns him over in the defense of every man’s right not to have his life taken from him by another man.

And Then There Were None

One does not become the Guinness World Book of Records best-selling author of all time without having a most famous, well-loved, and highly-published book.

And Then There Were None is not the original name of the work. It has gone through various renditions in the UK and the US, but was finally settled. The original, though understandable for the time period, would be potentially offensive to some people today who do not take the time to understand the history and differences of decades past.

Full of death and mystery, it was originally published as a serial in the newspaper in the US, which at least one commentator thought suited the work better than in novel form. The reason being, is that there were so many murders, one might find it monotonous reading them one after another without the break that came between paper editions.

The story has been turned into plays, movies, television shows, radio plays, and even computer games.

The Labours of Hercules

A collection of short stories, particularly good was “The Cretan Bull”.

Poirot once again stars in this short tale of mystery and intrigue. The plot twists on a seemingly simple errand, to get a tooth brush (because even famous story characters need to keep their teeth clean). It turns out that something happens where a hallucination turns terrible, with one of the main characters ending up killing a rabbit, with further plans to kill himself to save himself and the others from his mad delusions and lapses into insanity.

A Literary Genius

It is hardly arguable that Agatha Christie is one of the best authors of the past century, if not ever. Her works are influential, live on decades after they were published, and show no signs of slowing down.

Mary Higgins Clark

By Casey Clark

Mary Higgins Clark is a popular writer of mystery and suspense novels; known as the “Queen of Suspense” Clark’s books have sold over 100 million copies in the US, and she is the bestselling fiction author in France.

Where Are the Children?
Published in 1975, Where Are the Children? was Clark’s first suspense genre novel and became a bestseller in 1976. She is still writing bestsellers today at age 84. Her latest release is Daddy’s Gone A Hunting published in 2013.Where Are the Children? has gone through 75 printings and is her most iconic novel. It established Clark as the creator Mary Higgins Clarkof a new genre of thrillers; the smart and independent women that thwarts a sinister plot. This formula has been copied numerous times in popular movies, novels, and television programs. The book was made into a film and released in 1986. A Stranger Is Watching – 1982 is another Clark bestseller to hit the big screen. Her credits include more than a dozen TV movies adapted from her novels, short stories, and film ideas also.

An Impressive Body of Work
All 42 of Clark’s books have been bestsellers; her novels are published in 32 countries and she sells 3.7 million copies per year globally. Simon & Schuster Chief Executive Carolyn Reidy says that Ms. Clark’s sales are so consistent that they factor into the company’s annual budgets. Clark’s titles have spent a collective 355 weeks on the New York Times best sellers list.

Happy Mother’s Day
Clark releases a new novel every year during the first week of April to coincide with the Mother’s Day book buying holiday; third only to Christmas and Father’s Day. Her family friendly suspense and mystery novels are very popular with mother-daughter book clubs. Her new book appears every Mother’s Day at all 705 Barnes & Noble’s in a prominent display. In 1995 she began to release a Christmas themed novel to take advantage of the holiday gift buying season and it has been a rousing success.

The Early Days
Mary Higgins Clark sold her first short story in 1956 to Extension Magazine for $100 after receiving 40 rejection slips. Simon & Schuster bought Where Are the Children? in 1974 for $3000 and her second novel, A Stranger is Watching – 1978, was purchased for $500,000. The paperback rights sold for $1 million.

The Queen of Suspense
Pretend You Don’t See Her – first published in 1998 exemplifies Clark’s popular style. Protagonist Lacey Farrell is a rising star in the world of Manhattan real estate and during the sale of a luxury home she witnesses a murder, but before the victim dies she tells Lacey that her attacker was after a journal kept by the women’s deceased daughter. Lacey makes an ill-fated decision to make a copy of the journal before handing it over to the police.

Lacey is placed in witness protection but the killer eventually tracks her to Minneapolis and endangers not only her life but the people around her. Following vague clues found in the journal she goes back to New York to face the threat to her life while attempting to unravel the mystery surrounding her.

A Few Titles from the Queen of Suspense:

  • Where Are You Now?
  • The Second Time Around
  • He Sees You When You’re Sleeping
  • Moonlight Becomes You
  • The Lottery Winner
  • While My Pretty One Sleeps
  • A Cry In The Night
  • The Cradle Will Fall

All of Ms. Clark’s books are still in publication and the older ones are finding renewed life with a new generation of readers. The advancement of e-book devices is also rejuvenating sales of her early novels. If you love suspense novels by women, you might also want to try Sue Grafton’s books.

John Grisham

John Grisham

By Casey Clark


John Grisham is an American author and an attorney. He has written mystery thrillers, short stories, nonfiction books, and several young adult books, but Grisham is most well known for his legal mystery thrillers. Among the most popular of Grisham’s books are:

• A Time to Kill–In this riveting story of retribution and justice, Grisham examines the depths of racial violence, and delivers a compelling story of justice in a small southern town.
• The Firm–When Mitch McDeere signs on with a big law firm in Memphis, Tennessee, he thinks he has it made. However, the young attorney soon becomes entangled in a snare, when the FBI begins to investigate the firm’s activities. Mitch has no choice but to help the law enforcement agency–if he wants to survive.

John Grisham
• The Pelican Brief –A customer of a run-down porno shop is murdered. The following day, two Supreme Court justices are assassinated, and a violent cover-up ensues at the highest levels of the government hierarchy. In The Pelican Brief Grisham leverages his experience as a lawyer in Mississippi to create characters that face dangerous situations and complicated moral dilemmas.
• The Confession-In a small town in East Texas, a popular high school cheerleader is kidnapped, assaulted, and murdered. The killer disposes of her remains so that they will never be found, and stands by while a local football hero is convicted for the homicide. Almost a decade later, the man confesses to the crime and tries to prevent the execution of an innocent man.
• The Litigators-The partners at Finley & Figg think well of themselves, but the firm is actually a seedy operation, and they are no more than ambulance chasers. David Zinc, an attorney and former alcoholic is now sober, unemployed, and desperate enough to take a job at Finley & Figg.  It almost seems too good to be true when the firm gets a class action suit that could make them rich, if they can find a few Krayoxx users to join the suit.
• Sycamore Row– Nearly twenty-five years after the publication of A Time to Kill, John Grisham returns to the original setting. In this sequel, the main character once again finds himself tangled up in a controversial trial that will unearth old tensions and force a small southern town to confront its painful past.

Another author’s books turned into movies is Tom Clancy.

Awards and Honors
Grisham’s latest work, Sycamore Row earned him a spot on the New York Times Bestseller List for November, 2013.

Recent News
Grisham recently delivered on a promise to take lunch with a group of school kids at Pillow Academy in Greenwood MS. The students entered the Theodore Boone Essay Writing Contest. The contest was an attempt to get kids to read Grisham’s newest novel for young readers, and to inspire them to write their own stories. After the announcement of the winners, the students and their teachers were invited to take a break from class and eat with Grisham at a nearby café.

Author Bio
John Grisham burst into the world February 8, 1955, in Jonesboro, Arkansas. His father was a construction worker and his mother was a homemaker. He graduated from law school, began practicing law, and wrote in his spare time, between office hours and court appearances. Today, Grisham lives with his wife Renee and their two children on a farm in Mississippi.
Grisham’s writing is popular for many reasons. His writing appeals to a varied audience. His books have tight plots, and follow a logical sequence. His characters are easy to relate to and so well developed that the reader has feeling of kinship with them.…

Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy

By Casey Clark


What started as a fondness for naval history turned into a stellar career for author Tom Clancy.

Maybe every Maryland insurance broker dreams of writing best-selling novels, but Clancy did it repeatedly, far surpassing even his own hopes and expectations. In fact, Clancy’s hopes for his first novel, “The Hunt for Red October,” were to sell 5,000 copies. He did that nearly 500 times over, netting sales of approximately 2.4 million copies between hardcover and paperback.

Tom ClancyIt was 1984 and Clancy pitched the book to the Naval Institute Press for $5,000. They scooped it up quickly, knowing they could have a best-seller on their hands, which, of course, they did. The book was widely acclaimed for its naval technical accuracy. Actually, the script as submitted offered even more detail than what was published — about 100 pages worth.

The book eventually got its way into President Ronald Reagan’s hands, who said it was “the perfect yarn.” That endorsement lead to skyrocketing sales and Clancy ended up earning $1.3 million off his first published book over the next four years. In 1990, Tom Clancy’s first novel was made into a movie and soon the whole world knew of CIA analyst Jack Ryan.

That familiarity would certainly help when Clancy released subsequent best-sellers, “Patriot Games,” “The Cardinal of the Kremlin,” “Clear and Present Danger,” and “The Sum of All Fears,” all based in what is known as the “Jack Ryan universe.” In all, he wrote 16 novels about or relating to Jack Ryan, one of which is slated to hit book store shelves on Dec. 3. Only two of Clancy’s fiction works were completely independent of the Jack Ryan plot arc.  Another author with movies made from his novels is John Grisham. Two very recognizable names with very popular movies.

His latest book, “Command Authority,” returns to the delicate relationship between the United States and Russia. Co-written with Mark Greaney, it features the rise to power of a Russian man who harbors a dark secret from decades ago. Ryan, now president, holds the key to that secret.

Clancy also wrote several non-fiction works, mostly dealing with the military. While they got their share of sales, they never came close to the sales of the fiction pieces. Non-fiction works by Clancy include “Armored Cav,” “Fighter Wing,” “Marine,” “Into the Storm,” “Airborne,” “Every Man a Tiger,” “Carrier,” “Submarine,” “Shadow Warriors,” and “Battle Ready.”

Over time, the name “Tom Clancy” became a valuable commodity in and of itself. Aside from his books, he was a pioneer in the video game industry, leading to three popular series which held his name: Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon, and Splinter Cell. He entered into numerous licensing agreements allowing for use of the name and there have been several “Tom Clancy” books which were written by ghost writers.

Clancy was married twice – to Wanda Thomas King in 1969 and Alexandra Marie Llewellyn in 1999. Llewellyn, a freelance journalist is a family friend of Colin Powell. The former four-star general and secretary of state introduced the couple in 1997.

Clancy joined with a group of investors in 1993 to purchase the Baltimore Orioles. He also had reached an agreement in 1998 to purchase the Minnesota Vikings. That deal, however, fell through due to the costly settlement of his divorce from his first wife, King.

Clancy lived in an 80-acre estate in Calvert County, Maryland. The property, which was once a summer camp, has a panoramic view of the Chesapeake Bay. On it stands a 24-room stone mansion, complete with a shooting range in the basement.

Clancy, born on April 12, 1947, died on Oct. 1, 2013 at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland following a brief illness. He was 66.…

Sue Grafton

By Casey Clark

Sue Grafton is best known for her Alphabet mystery series featuring the private detective Kinsey Millhone. She was born in Louisville, Kentucky to novelist C.W. Grafton and his wife, Vivian Harnsberger in 1940. In 1961, she graduated from the University of Louisville with a degree in English Literature.

Sue GraftonMs. Grafton began writing at the age of 18 and had two novels published, but it was her screenplays that brought her success. Writing for mainly television movies, she won the Christopher Award in 1979 for her screenplay Walking Through Fire. Always a lover of mystery novels though, it was not until reading The Gashlycrumb that she got the idea for writing a series of mysteries centering on the alphabet.

The Alphabet Series:

Sue Grafton’s mystery series pays tribute to some of her favorite mystery authors. Her fictional private detective refers to herself as a “photostat”, as did author John MacDonald private detective character. Other references include, the fictional home town of Kinsey Millhone of Santa Teresa. A nod to fellow mystery writer Rose MacDonald who used the same town name in his books.
The series begins with the letter A, “A is for Alibi” and we are introduced to private detective Kinsey Millhone. While the timeline of this series may seem like it would drag, the letter Q was released in 2002 but is still set in 1987, readers do not seem to mind. This tough, no nonsense female detective is followed in 28 countries and in 26 languages. Ms. Grafton has announced though that the widely popular series will end with the final letter in the alphabet and will be titled “Z is for Zero.”
What sets this series apart from some of the other popular detective novels is that fans of the detective will not be seeing her played on t.v. or in the movies any time soon. After the success of “G is for Gumshoe” Ms. Grafton quit her career writing screenplays to concentrate on the novels. After quitting her job she stated that she was through with Hollywood, and her novels would never be developed into scripts. Fans will also be disappointed to learn that even after her death, she has promised to return and haunt anyone who does decide to adapt any of her novels into scripts.

Other Novels:
With the popularity of the Kinsey Millhone novels, it is hard to imagine this author having the time to write other books, but along with her two early novels, S. Grafton has also published,
* Teaching a Child an essay that appears in Knitting Yarns: Writer on Knitting
* The Lying Game which is a novella featuring Kinsey Millhone
* Kinsey and Me a book that contains stories about Kinsey Millhone and some about S. Grafton’s own mother.

Her two early novels are titled: Keziah Dane and The Lolly-Madonna War. Both were published in 1967 and 1969 respectively.

Sue Grafton has won several awards for her mystery novels including four Anthony Awards and three Shamus awards. One of the Anthony awards was for her short story “The Parker Shotgun”. In 2004, she won the Ross MacDonald award for raising the standards of literary excellence as a Californian. Other awards include the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America, and the Cartier Dagger by the British Crime Writer’s Association.

Follow Sue on Facebook

A Little Extra:
Sue Grafton’s personal life includes a twenty year marriage to husband Steven F. Humphrey, a teacher who enjoys teaching in both Montecito, California and Lousiville Kentucky. She has three children, from two former marriages, and several grandchildren, one of whom is named Kinsey. It will be interesting to see what happens next in the literary career of Sue Grafton after the final alphabet mystery is written.  If you like female mystery writers, you might also enjoy books by Mary Higgins Clark.

Max Allan Collins

Max Allan Collins
Max Allan Collins is a mystery writer who was born in the United States on March 3, 1948. He has written screenplays, novels, comic strips, comic books, short stories, historical fiction, movie novelizations and much more. He wrote a novel called Road to Perdition. It was made into a movie in 2002. He also wrote some books that appeared on the television series, Dark Angel. He also wrote books that were based on CSI, another television series.
Mr. Collins also writes under the pen names of Barbara Allan and Patrick Culhane. He has been on the New York Times best seller list three times and on the USA Today list nine times. Entertainment Weekly named him “the novelization king.” He has also been nominated for the Private Eye Writers of America’s Shamus award 18 times. He won the award for his novels True Detective in 1983 and Stolen Away in 1991. He also received the Eye, the PWA’s life achievement award, in 2007.
Max Allan Collins wrote several movie novels, including Air Force One, Saving Private Ryan, and American Gangster. In 2008, for American Gangster, he won the Best Novel “Scribe” Award from the International Association of Tie-in Writers.
Max Allan CollinsAs a child, Collins was a Mickey Spillane buff. He eventually became friends with Mr. Spillane. In the 1990’s they joined forces to create “Mike Danger,” a comic book series. Collins was charged with finishing many of Spillane’s unfinished works when Spillane died in 2006. These included The Goliath Bone, Deed Street and The Big Bang. There are many more unfinished works by Spillane that he may finish also.
Collins is not only a writer, he is a musician. He and his band Cruisin’ have performed since 1974. Cruisin’ was an emergence of the band Daybreakers, who released “Psychedelic Siren” in 1967. The song was written by Collins and is one of the most collectible records performed by a garage band. He is the lead singer and a keyboard player for Cruisin’ and still plays with the band regularly. He was inducted into the Iowa Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.
This is only a small list of the many nominations and awards the writer has received.
Mr. Collins has had an interest in stories since he was very young. At bedtime, his mother used to read him Tarzan books. She encouraged him to read her favorite comic strip, Dick Tracy, also. He became interested in many other mystery characters such as Sherlock Holmes, Ellery Queen and the Saint, Phillip Marlowe, Mike Hammer and Sam Spade, by Junior High School. He also developed an interest in television shows and characters such as The Untouchables, Wyatt Earp and Eliot Ness. He found himself identifying more with the people who developed the characters than the characters themselves. He wanted to be Chester Gould when he grew up, not Dick Tracy.
His reason for writing is, unlike most writers, not the money, but the fact that he finds that it’s more fun to tell the story than to have the story told to him. He says that he writes “for the sheer joy of it” in his articleWhy I Write by Max Allan Collins. Although, money may play a small part in it.
Collins’ wife, Barbara Collins is also a writer. They have joined forces on many short stories and three novels. In 2009, their novel Antiques Flee Market (written in 2008), won the Romantic Times Best Humorous Mystery Novel award. They have passed on their talent to their son, Nathan, who translates Japanese novels and video games into English. Nathans credits include several novels and video games.…

Mary Welk

Mary Welk

By Casey Clark

Mary Welk is able to create novels with memorable characters involved in attention grabbing mysteries. She’s retired from a career in nursing and knows the medical world. Welk has written award winning novels that include the ER nurse Caroline Rhodes.

Mary WelkReaders Choice Award
She received the Readers Choice Award for her novel “Rhodes to Murder” featuring ER nurse Caroline Rhodes. This is part of a series that included titles such as “Criminal Mischief,” “A Merry Little Murder,” “The Scarecrow Murders,” “The Rune Stone Murders” and “To Kill a King,” and others.

She has written four complete novels as well as two novellas and two short stories with her Caroline Rhodes character. She plans continue writing mysteries featuring Caroline Rhodes. Her short stories have been published in a variety of anthologies including Chicago Blues, Hot Crimes and others.

Reading Family
Growing up in a family of avid readers books were a big part of her world starting early in life. At the age of thirteen she had a short story published in her school’s newspaper. Years later she began attending nursing school. During this time she crafted her initial Caroline Rhode mystery novel. After finishing it the manuscript was left in a drawer for several years. Being a nurse and mother of six children consumed her life.

A Deadly Little Christmas
In 1992 she discovered the manuscript and started the process of completing the writing and revising. It wasn’t finished for six years and after undergoing six major revisions it was done. When she finished writing the book very little of the original story remained. “A Deadly Little Christmas” was published in 1998 and won the Readers’ Choice Award for Best First Mystery in 1999. Mary Welk’s second novel was “Something Wicked in the Air” won a Readers’ Choice Award as Best Traditional Mystery.

To Kill a King
Many of the events depicted in her novel “To Kill a King” are based on actual events that Welk witnessed during her work as a nurse. Everything from the cab driver with a dead passenger to removing a corpse with an oxygen mask to alleviate an overcrowded ER actually happened. There were some major differences. In the novel someone figures out it’s a corpse but that didn’t happen in real life.

Writing Habits
Even with the success of her first novel Welk continued to work in the nursing profession. When she worked in the ER, Welk would complete her 3 – 11:30 pm shift and then need to wind down. It was during this time while waiting to relax for sleep that she would do her writing. There were times when she wrote until early in the morning.

Writing Process
Prior to starting the writing process Welk will have the entire story plotted out in her mind. It’s important for her to know who committed the crime and their motivation. She must know the reason her protagonist is involved with the situation. As with all good mystery writers, she also carefully plans out what clues and red herrings she will provide the reader.

Mary Welk is married to her husband Fred and they have six children and eight grandchildren. She has retired from the nursing profession and her life is much calmer. Five days each week she works up to four hours writing or helping to edit other people’s work. There is no longer a need to use the early morning hours for writing time. The sixth installment to the “Rhodes to Murder” mystery series is currently being written. Welk is also working on an analogy of new mystery short stories.…

Dan Brown

Dan Brown

By Casey Clark

Dan Brown has proven to be an accomplished author, with such well known books as “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels and Demons.” His area of personal writing preference can be seen in the titles of his books. Thrillers with a historical and religious twist which creates a unique platform are his bestselling books. Brown recently published his latest story “Inferno” which critics have already given their stamp of approval with rave reviews.

Mr. Brown learned a lot about solving mysteries and ciphers from his father who was a mathematics professor and enjoyed challenging his children with puzzles and treasureDan Brown hunts. Brown went on to earn college degrees from Phillips Exeter and Amherst College. He pursued a musical career in singing and composing as well as teaching classes at a prep school in California prior to becoming a writer. It was about 15 years ago when Dan was in his mid 30’s that he began writing. He has completed 6 novels. The first 3 books were only mildly successful selling less than 10,000 copies each. The next book changed Dan’s life forever. “The Da Vinci Code” was a huge success hitting the New York Times bestseller list and this author became a household name. Two more best sellers secured his place among the most talented contemporary authors of our time. “Angels and Demons” and “The Lost Symbol” are now joined by “Inferno” which could also get on the best sellers list.

“Inferno” brings back the Harvard Symbologist Robert Langdon from “The Da Vinci Code.” This mysterious adventure finds Langdon waking up in the Italian city of Florence. Amnesia has him not knowing much except that there are people who want him dead, a beautiful doctor who comes to his aid, and the possible end of the world. This heart stopping novel appears to be following in the footsteps of Browns other best sellers. A movie could be in the works as well. It would be wonderful to see Tom Hanks in the role of Robert Langdon once again, but at this time that remains to be seen. Undoubtedly this could be another blockbuster motion picture from one of his novels.

It is not surprising to observe the immense popularity of Mr. Brown’s novels. They are well researched, and provide the pieces worthy of a story which attracts a wide variety of readers. These books translate well into movies and bring his stories to life for many more people to enjoy. His books have been translated into 52 languages and “Angels and Demons” as well as “The Lost Symbol” are set for movie production. With the success of his books it is not surprising that Time Magazine named Dan Brown one of the top 100 most influential people in the world.

Mr. Brown has succeeded in his endeavor to find purpose and contribute masterful literary works to the collection of fictional novels. As he developed his love of mystery and puzzles from an early age Dan explored music and teaching to enhance his knowledge of life perspective and the nature of man. It shows in his ability to create intriguing and suspenseful stories combined with religion, art and history. “Inferno” should prove to be of the same quality and success as his previous works. Critics love it and hopefully the public will as well.

Brown may be one of the most talented writers of our time and certainly worthy of the popularity and success of his books. “Inferno” has just been published and this may well leave readers wanting more books as Dan Brown continues to thrill and entertain with his heart stopping thrillers. Our hats are off to this talented man for gifting us with his incredible literary treasures.…