I grew up on a diet of The Hardy Boys – the 1970’s gateway drug to true-crime detective series Ian Rankin novels…
Today I learned something new about my childhood obsession – the franchise not only still exists but still being written under the name of Franklin W Dixon…
According to The Atlantic – Along with the Nancy Drew series, almost all of the thrillers in the popular teenage franchise were produced by ghostwriters, thanks to a business model that continues to this day.
“In the opening pages of a recent installment of the children’s book series The Hardy Boys, black smoke drifts though the ruined suburb of Bayport. The town’s residents, dressed in tatters and smeared with ash, stumble past the local pharmacy and diner. Shards of glass litter the sidewalk. “Unreal,” says the mystery-solving teenager Joe Hardy—and he’s right. Joe and his brother Frank are on a film set, and the people staggering through the scene are actors dressed as zombies. But as is always the case with Hardy Boys books, something still isn’t quite right: This time, malfunctioning sets nearly kill several actors, and the brothers find themselves in the middle of yet another mystery.”
It’s vintage stuff but is just set in a 21st century context and is still attracting readers.
More than 8 decades after they were first conceived, both the Hardy Boys series as well as the teenage female detective counterpart Nancy Drew carry the names of Franklin W Dixon and Carolyn Keene…probably the originators of the characters and original brand ethos – however they are long gone and the franchises, a bit like Marvel surviving creator Spike Lee, continue.
There are still several Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew titles released annually – and have current references to ensure their relevance to todays readers.
The owners of the franchises have discovered how to keep costs down and ensure that the look and feel is familiar and nowadays produced by freelancers whose true identity doesn’t matter to you, as long as the stories hold true.
Turns out there is a whole industry in ghostwriting children’s books – something I need to look into. Watch this space.