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Old 01-06-2013, 08:59 AM   #1
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Mashup books passé?

Opinions wanted:

Is the mashup genre bubble over? That's books like Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, etc., combining public domain works or historical facts with some sort of otherworldliness.

I have an idea for such a book, but I'm thinking the time has passed. The Lincoln book was made into an awful movie this year, and I haven't seen many new editions of these kinds of books.

Any and all perspectives appreciated! Thanks!
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Old 01-06-2013, 02:33 PM   #2
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Old 01-06-2013, 04:20 PM   #3
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That depends on the quality of the mashup, I suspect.
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Old 01-06-2013, 04:33 PM   #4
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They are still appearing, though the quality of the writing (and the popularity of the public domain work) has to be of a higher standard if the trend is going to pick up again. One of the problems of the first wave of titles was that they were a one-note joke, and the books which followed the pattern didn't attempt anything extraordinary with the form - simply adding monsters to the mix really isn't enough any more.
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Old 01-06-2013, 07:38 PM   #5
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Nothing is ever passe, or dead, or over, if it's done well enough. It's mediocrity that puts the skid son a trend. One writer comes up with a great idea, and lesser writers jump on the bandwagon. You get two or three or five really good novels, and fifty poor ones.

But the right novel, the right story, written well enough, can revive anything overnight.
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Old 01-06-2013, 07:56 PM   #6
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People always cite things like S&S and Seamonsters as mash-ups, but that's not the best example, IMO.

If you want a -successful- mash-up, look to Thursday Next. Tons of literary characters and universes colliding with alternative history, plus an actual plot. That's the sort of mash-up scenario that has a hope of sticking around. You want your work to read like a novel, not bad fanfiction.
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Old 01-06-2013, 08:59 PM   #7
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Something that's become popular in recent years is the kind of pastiche where numerous public-domain fictional characters interact with historical figures, usually with the addition of some fantastical or alternate-history elements. Kim Newman does it well, Alan Moore goes overboard, Phil Farmer used to have fun with it, and every other attempt I've seen reads like fanfiction.

(The other night, I had a dream in which I wrote a novel called Timothy Cratchit, Ghost Warrior. Turned out somebody had already written a novel about the adult Tim: Mr. Timothy, by Louis Bayard. Ah, well.)

Anyway: if it's a strong story, if you're passionate about it, and if you can write it well, have at it! Don't worry about what's popular; that changes like the wind.
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Old 01-06-2013, 09:12 PM   #8
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I have an idea for such a book, but I'm thinking the time has passed. The Lincoln book was made into an awful movie this year, and I haven't seen many new editions of these kinds of books.
It's a fad and is probably over already. Besides, there may be 1000s of writers out there with their own idea of taking a piece of classic literature and adding zombies or vampires to it.

But like all book ideas, you never know.
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Old 01-07-2013, 03:11 AM   #9
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People always cite things like S&S and Seamonsters as mash-ups, but that's not the best example, IMO.

If you want a -successful- mash-up, look to Thursday Next. Tons of literary characters and universes colliding with alternative history, plus an actual plot. That's the sort of mash-up scenario that has a hope of sticking around. You want your work to read like a novel, not bad fanfiction.
This is a terrific point. Lavie Tidhar is amazing at this.
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Old 01-07-2013, 05:13 AM   #10
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It's a fad and is probably over already. Besides, there may be 1000s of writers out there with their own idea of taking a piece of classic literature and adding zombies or vampires to it.

But like all book ideas, you never know.
I'd call 100 years a pretty long fad.
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Old 01-07-2013, 06:19 AM   #11
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Sidetrack: Do you mean Lincoln, the movie that is now out? I've heard from everyone who saw it that it's excellent.
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:57 AM   #12
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No - that's based on the Doris Kearns Godwin book and has gotten rave reviews. The one I mentioned was titled Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, after the Seth Graheme-Smith book of the same name. The book was a pretty good escapist read, but the movie was flat-out bad, IMHO.

Thanks to everyone for the insights! All very helpful, and the diversity is interesting.

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Old 01-07-2013, 01:16 PM   #13
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I think the 'Classic Title Plus SurprisingElement' (Pride and Predjudice with Zombies etc) phase is over, but retellings are still selling well.

YA is particular is loving them, with Beastly (Beauty and the Beast), Cinder (Sci-Fi Cinderella), and For the Darkness Shows the Stars (Sci-Fi Persuasion).
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Old 01-07-2013, 02:56 PM   #14
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Ughhh those mash-up books just make me cringe, I've been avoiding all of them but I'd totally be open to reading one if I heard it was hilariously funny or at least put something new on the table besides basically being an Alternate-Universe fanfic. But don't listen to me, if you think your idea is great and you can do it justice and people will be willing to buy it and read it, go for it. Maybe write the first couple of chapters and start shooting the idea off to agents to see if anyone (who has any actual say in what gets sold and what doesn't) has any interest in it. Good Luck!!
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Old 01-07-2013, 05:00 PM   #15
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My sense is that the straight-up insert-monster-into-classic fad has had its day. But if you can borrow out-of-copyright characters or milieus and write dynamic original work about them, that could be another story.
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Old 01-07-2013, 05:26 PM   #16
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For Austen mashups, right now my favorites are my friend Vera Nazarian's books. They are not only funny, but she's something of an Austen scholar. So the 'voice' is spot on.
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:10 PM   #17
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Honestly, this is one of those things that has no meaning. If you write based on what's popular, or on what may or may not be passe, or on whatever it is you think will be popular, you've already lost.

You should write whatever it is you most want to write. There is no better way to be successful. Two things always hold true. 1. Good writers make trends, and poor writers follow them. 2. Even if something has been done ten thousand times, it's never been done at all until you do it your way.
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:39 PM   #18
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This^^

You get an idea based on what's selling. By the time you get a good book written, something else is selling.
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Old 01-08-2013, 04:03 AM   #19
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Yep. Then you have two choices: trunk it and wait for the cycle to turn back again, or finish it and set it aside.
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Old 01-15-2013, 03:28 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by EMaree View Post
I think the 'Classic Title Plus SurprisingElement' (Pride and Predjudice with Zombies etc) phase is over, but retellings are still selling well.

YA is particular is loving them, with Beastly (Beauty and the Beast), Cinder (Sci-Fi Cinderella), and For the Darkness Shows the Stars (Sci-Fi Persuasion).
That's what I was thinking - gimicky titles are overdone, but a good story is a good story.
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Old 01-15-2013, 02:59 PM   #21
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A friend of mine created a LRP game based on the concept back when they were first starting...

http://miteyheroes.co.uk/

Is still going strong and very entertaining (and he managed to mash in so many influences and it is very well integrated so that it all seems natural).

I think the one note joke is not funny any more, though... we need a new fad!

I do like new versions of classic characters, however, new adventures for them. Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen does this well and a friend of mine recently released a sequel to Oliver Twist (which had elements of Ocean's 11 in it...) with an adult Oliver returning to London to sort out issues with his adopted father's probate and getting embroiled in a plot to steal the Koh i Nohr hatched by the Artful Dodger...
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Old 01-15-2013, 05:46 PM   #22
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This^^

You get an idea based on what's selling. By the time you get a good book written, something else is selling.
Good books always sell. Paying attention to what is or isn't selling is a good way to jump on the mediocrity bandwagon, but a lousy way to be successful.
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