Zombies, classics and you
Even if it makes Jane Austen roll over in her grave, "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" -- a mash-up version of her classic written by Seth Grahame-Smith -- has been taking a bite out of bestseller lists since its release.
"Subconsciously, Austen was writing a horror novel and didn't know it," Grahame-Smith told the LA Times in April. "People taking these strolls, riding their carriages to and fro. . . . There are so many opportunities there -- for zombie attacks."
Publisher Quirk Books noticed an opportunity too: It's at liberty to mash up Austen's regency dramas because her works, published between 1811 and 1818, are in the public domain. So are lots of other books too, but few have the sustained popularity of Austen's or mesh so oddly with zombies and ninjas. And, most recently, octopuses and giant lobsters -- in September, Quirk issued its first follow-up, "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters."
Last week, Quirk announced the next project, a prequel, "Dawn of the Dreadfuls," which promises to explain how 18th century England became infested with the lurching undead. Simultaneously, it launched a website dedicated to its classic-literature mash-ups.
But is the publisher too late to capitalize on the buzz that first book created? You'd think that with the ongoing popularity of "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," people might have something to say. But so far, its message boards have been quiet, save for a couple of questions about how Jane Austen can share co-author credit for a prequel she never wrote. The new book has a new co-author, Steve Hockensmith. Will it be more zombie-ninja-Austen fun? Or has the shtick run its course?
As for Grahame-Smith, he's departed from the land of Austen and zombies; he recently turned in a draft of his latest novel, "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter."
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Image: Quirk Books