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Brainstorm about a new series of young reader mysteries, comments please

samzheresamzhere Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
The last few days I've been scribbling notes about a new book idea that's come to me, and I'd like your feedback, those of you who are familiar with young adult type thrillers and such.

The overview: Famous historic people are "reborn" into our current timeline and find themselves recruited into a secret organization of "good guys" who are fighting an evil presence.

Each book (or section of a book) will feature a new character, and is based on the genuine historic personality and behavior of that person. How that person is affected by being reborn and asked to join the secret society is part of the plot. How they interact with other historic persons will also be used as a plot device. And of course, a "mission" that needs to be performed.

Question: does anyone know whether such a series of books exists? Any hints? Because, of course, I can't steal someone else's idea, even if I thought it up myself. Now, many of you have enjoyed the "Repairman Jack" books which sometimes use historic characters, but these are adult fiction.

The idea is to pique interest among young readers (adventure-minded juveniles) for the actual historic character, and also to tell a good story overall. I'd be very circumspect about the "root power" of this secret society, avoiding religion or other touchy areas, and focus on the entertainment value of a "swashbuckling" adventure. Yes the evil threats are serious and murders and such occur, but it's more of feeling of books by Robert Louis Stevenson and some of the recent popular vampire/werewolf teen novels.

Naturally I can play fast and loose with older personages and would probably not touch recent real people, just for legal reasons. Just off the top of my head, some historic characters might be: Duke of Wellington, Joan d'Arc, Macbeth (reformed), a famous samurai, a crusader, an African warrior from pre-white contact days, Odysseus, etc.

Right now I'm just toying with the concept and may sketch out a few chapters or characters to see how it feels.

Replies

  • LinefinderLinefinder Posts: 7,800 Senior Member
    Let me check with Machell (Mrs. Linefinder). She's a reading interventionist at the elementary school level here, and if anybody would know....she would.

    The next post to this thread under my account will probably be her....

    Mike
    "Walking away seems to be a lost art form."
    N454casull
  • LinefinderLinefinder Posts: 7,800 Senior Member
    I just showed this thread to Machell, and she's going to get back with you after she mulls over her response.

    But..........to not keep you in suspense, she thinks it's a fantastic idea, and, while there is young-adult historical fiction out there, your take on it is completely different. (And, as a plus....most of the young adult historical fiction is targeted toward girls. With your "action-type" background, I'd think your idea is a tailor-made fit for the young adult males out there.)

    She'll get back with you in a bit, Sam.

    Mike
    "Walking away seems to be a lost art form."
    N454casull
  • TeachTeach Posts: 18,428 Senior Member
    The idea sounds great, Sam! Do you intend to follow the conventional, PC version of the historic characters, or actually do some research into their true personalities? A chracter such as Abraham Lincoln is probably too recent to be used in an episode, but a depiction of his real personna in contrast to the cleaned-up version taught in the history books would make a book of its own. Ditto for some of the founders of the USA!
    Jerry
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    Sounds good Sam. It sort of reminds me of the movie "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen", but instead of using comic book heroes, you would be using historical figures to fight the good fight.
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • samzheresamzhere Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    I'd probably skip Lincoln, as he's too busy killing vampires. ha ha. And yes, I've seen the "League of" which is too comic-book for my purpose.

    But yes, the actual personalities of these historic figures would be included, slightly tweaked if necessary. And (Macbeth an example), fictional characters in the mainstream and public domain would also be available. Macbeth was a great general and leader, after all. After much soul searching, he's reformed his vicious streak and is now one of the top planners of the society. He still has bad dreams.

    I'd try to mitigate the action scenes with some background work, and have the society equally populated with females. It's perfectly okay to have brave and strong women characters. Espionage and intelligence gathering, scientific research, other aspects would balance the "fight" sequences. I'd try to use the historic/mythic characteristics of the team members and build on that... example off the top of my head...

    He introduced himself. "Cal" and shook my hand. I was grateful he didn't crush it. He was medium height but had massive shoulders and arms, out of proportion for his slender waist and torso. He had a ready, engaging smile, something watchful and sly behind it. His eyes were brilliant blue, contrasted by a shock of red hair and neatly trimmed crimson beard.

    "You lift weights?" I asked, gesturing to his lifter's physique.

    Cal nodded, shrugged. "Used to be pretty good with a bow and arrow, too."

    (so goes the Duke of Wellington meeting Ulysses)
  • JLDickmonJLDickmon Posts: 1,726 Senior Member
    Big Chief wrote: »
    Sounds good Sam. It sort of reminds me of the movie "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen", except of using comic book heroes, you would be using historical figures to fight the good fight.

    "I want you dressed at all times, Skinner! Or it's my boot up yer arse!"
    Never laugh at your wife's choices.
    You are one of them.
  • samzheresamzhere Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    Big Chief wrote: »
    Sounds good Sam. It sort of reminds me of the movie "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen", but instead of using comic book heroes, you would be using historical figures to fight the good fight.

    It's often said that there are no new ideas, just retreads. As I was typing ideas and notes on this, just brainstorming, I of course immediately thought of Phil Farmer's "Riverworld" series, in which various historic figures are the principal characters. This is probably the most famous use of historic people in SF. There are a few others, including one classic SF novel where Gilgamesh is an immortal and shadowy presence.

    So I have to tread lightly, do some research into existing books that use characters from history. The comic book "League..." isn't even a blip on the radar by comparison. But there may be juvenile/young reader books that echo my concept precisely. Apparently nobody here is aware of such, but naturally I'm checking my editorial/publisher sources too.

    This may never materialize. Writers have notebooks (nowdays it's memory sticks) full of half-started screenplays and novels. All of us writers do that. It's exactly the same as you folks who work on "AR builds" and may likely have boxes full of false starts squirreled away.

    Fiddling away in the basement shop is part of life. We writers do the same, except that it's thousands of words, words, words....

    Critical to this project will be selecting the first 2 or 3 main characters from all the historic/classic fiction possibilities. Essential to get off to a good start, grab the readers' (and publisher's) attention. So I'll need one strong male, one strong female (neither necessarily physically strong, but strong as a leader), and 1 or 2 lesser characters, slightly oddball or humorous. I'd start the story "in medias res" (in the middle of things) with a mission already underway, then fill in the background. This is how best to grab the reader's attention. The "heroes" would have aliases and slowly I'd reveal their true nature.

    Tricky will be how they "get there". You've got an historic character, say, dying a natural or violent death, but dying regardless. Then they're "reborn". What I'll need to avoid is a deeply religious "resurrection" theme, and also a purely SF-based DNA-regrowth theme. Using a religious background would overpower the story line, and I'm not going to be writing "young Christian lit". And if you regrow, say, Henry V's DNA, all you get is a tabula rasa (blank slate) mindless being -- memories and experiences aren't stored in the DNA.

    So I've got to "cheat" and simply have the character suddenly find himself sitting on a park bench, for example, with no knowledge of how or why. Maybe. I dunno yet.
  • bruchibruchi Posts: 2,581 Senior Member
    Sounds like a plan with a lot of options and twists Sam. Maybe even the field and have this historical figures play on both sides of the fence? I would love to see the face on Genghis Khan when he is shown a 50 cal. Browning machine gun!
    If this post is non welcomed, I can always give you a recipe for making "tostones".
  • samzheresamzhere Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    I do want some bad guys too. What I don't want to do is turn it into a World at Warfare video. Military operations will only have a sidebar function. Most will be power struggles, espionage, a cold war-type struggle with some intrigue, murders, double agents, corporate and financial scheming, plus of course a dose of combat, but not much.

    Just a roughshod idea right now, percolatin' and rattling around in the old confused noggin...
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