Don’t Look Down Reader’s Guide

My first collaboration was Don’t Look Down with Bob Mayer, an action-adventure novelist. It was a love story with helicopters, alligators, and many, many guns.

  1. A symbol is a concrete object that represents an abstract idea, but the idea is usually dependent upon the observer or reader. So as the book opens, Lucy Armstrong is on the Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge when a black helicopter appears on the horizon. She thinks, “That can’t be good,” but inside the helicopter is J.T. Wilder. What does the helicopter symbolize to Lucy? To the reader? Does it make a difference if the reader is male or female? What does the bridge symbolize? Do they symbolize different things to women than they do to men? Do men even think in symbols or do they just want to talk about how big the guns are?
  2. Clothes are also important symbols in Don’t Look Down. What does it mean that Wilder wears body armor, that Lucy wears red cowboy boots, that Pepper won’t take off her WonderWear? And why does Bob still think it doesn’t matter what they’re wearing?
  3. Authors often allude to or pay homage to other works to draw on the themes or motifs there. Don’t Look Down draws heavily on two pop culture sources: the movie High Noon (Bob) and Wonder Woman comics (Jenny). The situation on the bridge reminds Wilder of High Noon. Why is Will Kane such an iconic hero, and what is it in particular that Wilder responds to in his character? What does it mean that Lucy’s the only person in the book who hasn’t seen High Noon? What does it mean that Jenny still hasn’t seen High Noon? In spite of that, how does Don’t Look Down pay homage to High Noon?
  4. If Wilder has Will Kane, Lucy has Wonder Woman and her Golden Lasso. The Golden Lasso is a symbol of Wonder Woman’s power but it’s also often used against her. How does Don’t Look Down co-opt the Wonder Woman legend? How does Lucy’s power work against her at times? And how about that rope?
  5. At the beginning of the book, both Lucy and Wilder make assumptions about the opposite sex based on their previous experiences. How do those assumptions change by the end? Why do they change? How are those changes embodied in the final scenes? Is it believable that those changes happen in four days?
  6. Lucy and Wilder aren’t the only ones making assumptions; the readers are, too. In the beginning chapters of Don’t Look Down, everybody assumes Moot is male. Then they see her eggs and realize that, as Tyler puts it, “Moot’s a chick.” How does that change the perception of the gator, cold-blooded reptile though she was?
  7. Don’t Look Down is about trust and power, in particular about trusting someone enough to give up power to him or her, both physically and emotionally. How do Lucy and Wilder negotiate both kinds of power issues? Is their relationship at the end one of equals sharing power?
  8. One of the reason that trust is central to DLD is because it’s necessary in order for people to bond together and communities. How have both Lucy and Wilder formed communities in the past? What community do they form together, and what sacrifices do they have to make to keep that community safe? Is it worth it? Why is it easier to make a commitment to a community or team rather than to a lover?
  9. Don’t Look Down is the story of two strong people–Lucy Armstrong, a film director, and J.T. Wilder, a Green Beret—who are forced to work together when somebody begins to take “shooting a movie” too literally. It was written by two stubborn people–Jenny Crusie who wrote the scenes in Lucy’s point of view and Bob Mayer who wrote Wilder’s scenes—who teamed up to create a romantic adventure that reflects both Crusie’s background writing romantic comedy and Mayer’s background writing military thrillers. Can you tell there were two authors in Don’t Look Down? Does having two genders share the storytelling balance the story or does it still seem predominantly male or female? What differences in this story did you find that might stem from having both a male and a female author?
  10. Bob and Jenny are calling their hybrid genre “romantic adventure.” How would you describe it?