After looking around online and in bookstores, I think I have found the perfect literary genre for a lazy, undisciplined writer like myself. It’s a new style called “mashups”. You take something already in public domain such as old, classic novels, or the life of a famous person in history. Then you paste an entirely unrelated current fad onto your found objet d’art. Both the original source and your add-on already have built-in audiences. When combined, the market multiplies. Your work sells as if it was the newest iPhone. They make movies out of your mashups. You retire to Fiji, and commute between there and your second home in Monaco via your personal jet.
You think this can’t possibly be true? In 2009, Seth Grahame-Smith (real name Seth J. Greenberg) co-rewrote (with Jane Austen) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It went to #3 on the New York Times bestseller list. Natalie Portman is one of the producers of the film, still in preparation. It’s been adapted into a graphic novel, a video game, and has spawned BOTH a prequel and a sequel. It has been translated into more than 20 languages! And the completed film of his second mashup, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, will hit theaters this summer. Seth wrote the screenplay. He now has a sitcom on MTV and several TV and film projects in development. At this rate he will be a 1%-er well before he turns 40.
The mashups have given rise to new publishing companies, and a spate of new titles including Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, Little Women and Werewolves, and Android Karenina. I’ve got to get on board before this train leaves Brand Central Station! Don’t worry. I have plenty of ideas. How about:
Uncle Tom’s Coffin – by Harriet Beecher Stowe (and me). Simon Legree thought his problem was over when he had that uppity old man whipped to death. He didn’t reckon on Lil’ Evil knowing that “raise ‘em up” spell.
The NecroComic-Con – by H.P. Lovecraft (and me). They were the cleverest of humans, but none of the nerds and trekkies knew that the underbelly of the Convention Center hid a portal into unspeakable, unnamable, ageless horror!
Bane Hur – by General Lew Wallace (and me). Masala had said cryptically that his mother and sister were not dead, but “leopards”? As Judah watched the full moon rise, he saw strange spots appearing on the sinews of his sun-bronzed arms.
Jack Kennedy the Ripper – by me! He had an appetite for women. By day, it was connubial. By night, cannibal.
Zombadeus – by me (I’ll have to pay Peter Shaffer out of the royalties). It wasn’t just his music that lived on. Mozart clawed his way up through the mud of the pauper’s grave. As the ragged arms reached forward, his voice hissed, “ssSalieri!!!”
Lady Chatterly’s Liver – by D.H. Lawrence, Arch Oboler (and me). The Lady had only intended to benefit science with her organ donation. New cloned cells could save others from disease. But the liver grew, and grew, and never stopped growing. Bile covers the beaches. Bombs fall harmlessly into the ever-spreading tissue. Can nothing stop it? Is this how the world ends?
The Island of Dr. Thoreau – by H.G. Wells, Henry David Thoreau (and me). Strange beings lurked at the bottom of Walden Pond. When the campers arrived, they thought nothing of the trail of bubbles on the water’s surface. As they slept, the things slithered out to recite The Law. They were once humans. They had wanted to be closer to nature. Thoreau’s skill with the scalpel had made them more a part of nature than they ever wanted to be.
I would go on, but the clinic’s calling and I have to go back to work. If you start seeing titles on the bestseller lists by Michael Higgins-Pickering, remember you saw it here first!