Pride and parody: Writers vamp it up with Jane Austen
Best-selling Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Seth Grahame-Smith’s send-up of the Jane Austen novel, has started a monster of a trend.
By Carol Memmott, USA TODAY
Jane Austen fans who got their pantaloons in a twist over Pride and Prejudice and Zombies — Seth Grahame-Smith’s irreverent best seller that blends Austen’s 19th-century love story with a tale of the rampaging undead — brace yourselves.
The monster onslaught continues.
Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange (Sourcebooks) hits stores Aug. 11. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters, from Zombies publisher Quirk, is out Sept. 15.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a surprise summer hit, is No. 28 on USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list. There are 650,000 copies in print.
What is it about Austen and mythical creatures, anyway?
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“It’s very appealing to see the very mannered, rigid society Jane lived in conflict with a very chaotic society,” Grange says from her home in Cheshire, England.
Grange, a popular author of romances inspired by Austen including Mr. Darcy’s Diary, came up with the idea for Vampyre years ago while watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on TV. “The dynamics between Buffy and Angel reminded me of the dynamics of Lizzy (Bennet) and Darcy.”
Vampyre is a sequel to Pride and Prejudice in which Darcy must reveal his true nature. (Vampirism is the reason he’s so moody and brooding.) Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, is an enhanced retelling of the classic Austen tale.
In Sea Monsters, Sense and Sensibility’s Col. Brandon has been cursed by a sea witch and has tentacles growing out of his chin. The book’s “new” characters include two-headed sea serpents and giant lobsters.
Quirk hopes Austen and zombie fans will be drawn to Sea Monsters as well as new fans attracted by the novel’s other pop-culture elements.
“It’s not comic horror the way Zombies was. It’s more of a mystery adventure,” says Quirk’s Jason Rekulak. “It draws on different sources like Jules Verne, Celtic mythology, Lost, Pirates of the Caribbean and Jaws.”
JaneAustenAddict.com creator Laurie Viera Rigler, author of the popular Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and the new Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, which incorporate elements of time travel, says fans never tire of new interpretations. “Jane Austen wrote just six books, and they want more, more, more.”
Like raging zombies, there’s no stopping the Austen spinoffs.
Grange is working on a novel about Darcy the vampire that takes place before Pride and Prejudice. Coming in December: Darcy’s Hunger: A Vampire Retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice by Regina Jeffers and Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford.
Quirk is not ready to make a public announcement, but it is in final negotiations for a film version of Zombies.