Everything old is new again – mwahahaha!

by Cate Masters

It’s no secret that styles come and go. And come back again, sometimes with a twist. Even in books and movies. Take Jane Austen, for instance. While her popularity has remained fairly steady, her work is about to take on a new spin with the release of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It’s one of the titles in the new genre of mash-ups, adding an otherworldly flavor to classics. Supposedly Elton John’s production company has taken on a similar project called Pride and Predator (involving an alien in place of a zombie) and a movie’s in the works. To romance readers and writers, violating Jane Austen is tantamount to sacrilege. To horror fans, it’s just bloody good fun. Maybe a reminder not to take ourselves too seriously, although I have doubts to whether Jane Austen would “laugh her head off” about it, as author Seth Grahame-Smith suggests.

Maybe it’s all in the treatment. If done as well as Shaun of the Dead, it might be hilarious and gain a huge cult following. Or it might go the way of most horror movies and just plain suck. I’m reserving judgment, I think, until I see for myself, although I admit when I saw Grahame-Smith’s followup casting Abe Lincoln as a vampire hunter, I hated it immediately. Altering literary characters is one thing, but actual people – especially good old Abe – just seems wrong to me.
I’m not a huge horror fan, so that’s probably the key difference. I am a fan, however, of originality. Mash-ups may want to look original, but seriously, it’s just someone else’s work they’re messing with. Same with fan fiction. I understand the urge to want to write new story lines for characters you love, but for me, it’s more satisfying to create my own characters.

As the entertainment market becomes more crowded, publishers and producers strive to find the next new thing. Publishers and moviemakers have glutted the market with werewolves and vampires, though the evolution’s been fun to follow. Werewolves have changed over time from the Wolf Man (although in researching this post, I learned they’re remaking The Wolf Man with Benicio del Toro in the lead – and I was about to comment we were overdue for a remake! Ha!) to Teen Wolf to An American Werewolf in London.

Vampires went from ultra-creepy Nosferatu to creepy Bela Lugosi to the bad-boy, great-hair fanged ones of The Lost Boys to sexy Interview with the Vampire vamps to Twilight’s innocent and beautiful Edward Cullen.

As much as writers love to bash Stephenie Meyer’s literary abilities, her take is definitely original. And she sparked a new wave of literary frenzy, much like J.K. Rowling – a wave with a splash so huge, it spilled over for other writers whose stories benefited. I came late to the Twilight mania (yes, I admit I’m a hermit) but the fans’ excitement about the book – before the movie was even released – made me excited too.

I’m a huge fan of urban fantasy. I love to begin reading a story that on the surface appears typical, but then suddenly nothing is as it appears to be. The thrill of the literary ride has to include great writing as well as a great story line, or it’s not much of a thrill for me. I’m really looking forward to Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys hitting the big screen. I wish someone would make a movie of Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks, considered a pioneer in the urban fantasy genre. There are so many good urban fantasy writers now, it’s hard to choose what to read. I recently stumbled across the Kitty series and highly recommend it; Carrie Vaughn writes tight, intelligent prose along an interesting story line that doesn’t seem so far-fetched. And that’s the best kind of urban fantasy – believable stories with engaging characters.

To segue to a bit of self-promotion, I have a short urban fantasy romance called The Duende and the Muse releasing with The Wild Rose Press on May 6. I hope you’ll check it out! Here’s the trailer:

Mark your calendar! On May 6, I'll also be holding a contest on my blog to give away a PDF copy. I'd love for you to stop by!
The author of four novels, Cate Masters’ short stories and flash fiction have appeared in various web zines and press sites. Visit her online at http://catemasters.ning.com/ or www.catemasters.blogspot.com or friend her on Facebook


  1. An urban fantasy series I LOVE is Russian - written by Sergei Lukyanenko. It's available in an English translation and is called:

    Night Watch
    Day Watch
    Twilight Watch

    Absolutely recommend them.

  2. Ooh, thanks, Julia! I will have to look those up!

  3. In the world of psychology I have learnt that a lot of the time writer's write what is taboo or not fit to speak about it in the open. of course this varies from culture culture, and person to person. Stephan Meyer is a mormon and all these things she wrote about in that book came about in a vivid dream so it makes sense that she wrote all about these things that are surpressed within in her own life. I am sure this can be applied to genres such a romance, any horror, and especially comedy.

  4. I didn't realize she was Mormon - interesting! Sometimes it's good to explore the psyche through writing, but sometimes it's just fun to play, too!

  5. Great post Cate! I had no idea that a zombie version of Pride and Prejudice existed and is being made into a movie! I think Austen certainly inspires a great many people in a variety of ways! And it'll be interesting to see how it turns out - and like you - reserving judgement until I see it! ;)

  6. Yes, as mash-ups are a new genre, it'll be interesting to see where the producers "set the bar" - could be a real groaner, or could be worth the two hours. We shall see!

  7. I'm quite excited about P & P and Z, I must say.

    I too love Urban Fantasy and my books are utterly cross-genre, you've mentioned a lot of my influences.

    LOVE that Nosferatu pic.

    Your book looks cool, Cate, I'll have to check it out!


  8. I wonder what they'll do with the zombies in P&P. Then, like you said, if it's something like Shaun of The Dead (and if it features the hilarious Bill Nighy), it could be very good. Gotta reserve judgement.

    I don't know a lot about mish-mash movies, but I have liked a few spoofs, such as Hot Shots which was a spin off Top Gun.

    About those books Julia mentioned, I think they've been made into movies. I did see a Day Watch and Night Watch where the world of magical beings and vampires roamed the very urban city of Moscow. Very good one, if anyone is inclined to see it.




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