Wednesday, November 5, 2014

When Things Fall into the Wrong Hands by Alison Henderson

Last week I was staring at our topics for the month, waiting for inspiration to strike, and this one began to worm its way into my brain. Fall into the Wrong Hands. I write romantic suspense, so I ought to be able to do something with that, right?

In fact, following my Christmas short story collection, my next project will involve industrial espionage—something falling into the wrong hands. I’ve written most of the first chapter and have a pretty good idea where the story is going, but I would love a little help brainstorming, so put on your plotting caps!

This book, tentatively entitled BOILING POINT, will be the second in the Phoenix, Ltd. female bodyguard series, so I want it to be similar in tone—light, snappy, and suspenseful, with a strong dose of humor.

Here’s the premise:
An eccentric inventor has hired Zoe Hargrove to pose as a personal chef while protecting his pregnant wife without her knowledge. Only one problem – Zoe doesn’t know how to cook. As a cover, the client tells his wife Zoe’s there to help him test his latest invention, a cooking robot known as GRAMPA (Great Robotic Automatic Meal Preparation Assistant.

While a representative of a Japanese Electronics Conglomerate, Mr. Watanabe, has been trying unsuccessfully to buy GRAMPA, several incidents have occurred, including attempted break-ins and an episode of road rage. Fearing for her husband’s life, the inventor’s wife has hired a secret bodyguard of her own to protect her husband—Dominick “Nick” Rosetti, a former police detective. Nick is posing as the family chauffeur.

I anticipate lots of mayhem and mistaken identities as Zoe and Nick try to figure out who’s who and protect both their clients from the real villain.

Question #1: Do you think the premise is fun or over-the-top hokey, with all the secrets the characters are hiding from each other?

Question #2: How do you feel about the idea of GRAMPA? The Japanese are crazy about robots that do domestic chores, so that’s too not unrealistic, but do you think American readers will enjoy it? There’s one planned scene where the inventor orders GRAMPA to scare off the man trying to steal his plans with a small kitchen blowtorch. Fun or dumb?

Question #3: Do these characters and the set-up suggest any fun scenes to you?

Any suggestions are welcome. Let your imaginations run wild!


Jannine Gallant said...

Sounds original and fun, Alison. But, I think you have to be very careful NOT to take it over the top and turn it into slapstick. Just handle the duplicity with a light touch, and you'll be fine. As for the robot, my immediate thought was The Jetsons. LOL Again, I'd exercise caution. I'm not so sure I'd have it saving the day. What if GRAMPA has some technical kinks that cause kitchen disasters instead? That could add a fun touch and frustrate the humans involved without being too corny. My best advice would be to remember your genre and what readers of that genre expect. If you're going for romantic suspense like your first book, you don't want to get too carried away. If you're writing romantic comedy, you can use a lot more silly humor. Or since you're self-pubbing this, just do what you want, throw caution to the wind and have fun! (Sorry for writing a novel about this!)

Diane Burton said...

I want a GRAMPA. I think the story sounds like so much fun. I can see hilarious scenes (ala Lucy & Ethel) that will add needed relief from the suspense. Go with your gut and see where it takes you. Best wishes.

Alison Henderson said...

Thanks so much for the "novel", Jannine. I really wanted your feedback on this since you know the first book in the series so well. Your advice touched on my exact worries - I don't want to go overboard with the comedy. There was never any risk of GRAMPA being the one to the day, and I don't want to rely on gimmicks. I also don't want to have to become an expert in robotics to write the story - just enough for a little comic relief. I think a few technical disasters in the kitchen should do nicely. Thanks!

Alison Henderson said...

Diane, I'm so glad you like the idea of GRAMPA. I don't want him to take over the book, but I was struggling with whether to use him in the story at all. I think I'll use him like seasoning - just enough to bring out the flavor.

Margo Hoornstra said...

What a great premise, as long as you keep a light hand and don't do any of this over the top, ie slapstick. I like the idea of GRAMPA, it suggests all sorts of potential mishaps, especially if Zoe can't cook (my kind of woman, BTW) Think Mrs. Doubtfire. You'd have to be careful though. I'm immediately thinking Rosie in the Jetson's, not too sassy. And be careful, too, with the blowtorch idea, and don't give the robot too much humanness. My input about scenes would be to have Nick and Zoe find out who the other one is (cop types have a way of seeking each other out) and they engage in kind of a 'protection competition'. That might help with the too many secrets overload. As has been suggested, above all go with your gut and have fun!

Barbara Edwards said...

i love your premise and promise to buy the published book. It sounds wonderful. Just what you posted sent my brain into a hundred directions.

Alison Henderson said...

Thanks, Margo. What I was really struggling with was whether or not to include GRAMPA at all. And I love the idea of a "protection competition"!

Alison Henderson said...

Barbara, I'm so glad you like the premise. It sent my brain in a hundred direction, too. That's why I needed some help to rein it in!

Alicia Dean said... sorry I'm late! I love this premise. Sounds like loads of fun. As mentioned, you want to be careful not to overdo it, but I'm sure your instinct will prevent you from doing that. GRAMPA sounds like a great addition, as you said, more seasoning than the main ingredient. :) Best of luck!