Tuesday, July 26, 2016

When Genres Collide


by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine


One can only guess what Jane Austen would think of the novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  In 2009, author Seth Grahame-Smith and Quirk Books cleverly capitalized on a current hot topic by sinking their teeth into Austen's 1813 classic, creating a new novel of manners and monsters.  A movie of the same name made it to theaters in February 2016.

Call it a parody, call it a mashup, but whatever you do, don't call it a one hit wonder.  Pride and Prejudice and Zombies started a zombie apocalypse of its own, inspiring other authors to write such twisted tomes as:
  • Alice in Zombieland
  • Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
  • Little Women and Werewolves
  • William Shakespeare's Star Wars: The Empire Striketh Back
  • Grave Expectations
  • Android Karenina 
Grahame-Smith continued to contribute more of his own fangy fare with 2010's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

Even fairy tales have not been safe from those who would rewrite history. That Risen Snow: A Scary Tale of Snow White and Zombies picks up where happily ever after leaves off. It turns out that Snow's resurrection doesn't come without a certain complication.  Which makes me fear for Sleeping Beauty, who was dead to the world even longer than Snow before her prince showed up.

More than simply grabbing the coattails of a passing fad, a good hybrid novel not only captures the spirit of the original material but adds its own page-turning twists.  Another popular genre, Steampunk, shares a similar premise of mixing the ordinary with the extraordinary.  In this, H.G. Wells was well before his time.

Author Kerry Nietz shared how he came up with his novel Amish Vampires in Space in the May 2014 issue of Southern Writers: "For me, it was an interesting mental challenge. Could I intersect three genres—Science Fiction, Amish, and Vampires—and produce a compelling and plausible story?" Nietz succeeded, and followed up with 2015's Amish Zombies in Space

Perhaps you can think of other mashup possibilities.  I myself would enjoy a novel in which Sherlock Holmes matches wits with The Mad Hatter.  These two insane geniuses on opposite ends of the mental health spectrum would make for a very fun read indeed.

But let's not stop there.  Might I also suggest these titles, just ripe for the writing:
  • Calamity Jane Eyre
  • Little Orphan Annie of Green Gables
  • Green Eggs and Hamlet
With so many genre mashups yet to be tapped, don't be dismayed if the zombie and vampire trend is not the bandwagon you feel like hopping on.  All you need is a little imagination to come up with another idea worth fleshing out.


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