Before Elizabeth Bennet met Mr. Darcy, she trained to become an accomplished zombie slayer.
At least according to Steve Hockensmith and his next book, “Dawn of the Dreadfuls,” the prequel to Quirk Books’ popular “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.”
“I’m taking something that’s old and revered and putting a new spin on it,” Hockensmith said Wednesday.
Attend today’s free Collaborations: Humanities, Arts & Technology festival activities
-Interactive Project Exhibitions 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Wilson Library, the FedEx Global Education Center, the Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence at Graham Memorial and the Hanes Art Center and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at ITS-Manning and the Renaissance Computing Institute
-The Bathysphere: Motion Capture as Art 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Gerrard Hall
-DJ/VJ Dance Party, 9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Gerrard Hall
Festival on the Hill
-An Electro-Acoustic Concert Featuring Student Compositions 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Person Hall
-Charanga Carolina Rehearsal 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Gerrard Hall
Additional events, including technology workshops and a keynote lecture from Michael Wesch require a fee and registration. To register go to acteva.com/go/CHAT and for a full schedule go to chatfestival2010.com/schedule.html.
He and Jason Rekulak, the editor behind the first Jane Austen/monster mashup, spoke at UNC as part of the Collaborations: Humanities, Arts & Technology festival.
Rekulak said he came up with the concept for “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” which has more than one million copies in print since its debut in April 2009, while watching remixed videos on YouTube.
He said he made a list of classic novels in the public domain — anything published before 1923 is considered public property. Down the other side of the page, he listed additions that could make the stories more interesting — robots, ninjas, pirates and monkeys.
He drew a line between the novels and the monster additions. As soon as he linked “Pride and Prejudice” to the word “zombies,” Rekulak knew he had found something, he told the audience in Hyde Hall.
Seth Grahame-Smith took on the challenge and wrote the now-famous “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.”
Rekulak said colleagues at Quirk were concerned that the book wouldn’t have an audience.
“They said, ‘Jane Austen fans will have no patience for decapitation and evisceration and all this bloodshed,’” Rekulak said. “‘Horror fans will have no patience for all this social commentary.’”
Instead, the book debuted at No. 3 on the New York Times Best Sellers list, where it spent more than 40 weeks and sparked an onslaught of attempts to insert the undead into classics.
Quirk’s “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters” was released in September 2009, and “Android Karenina” is due later this year.
Other publishers came out with “Mr. Darcy, Vampyre” and “Little Women and Werewolves,” due out later this year.
“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” will also be made into a movie starring Natalie Portman and directed by David O. Russell.
Rekulak said he has been surprised by Austenites’ positive reception of the books.
“Nine out of 10, they love this stuff,” he said. “I bet there’s more overlap than you’d expect.”
Hockensmith said readers should know that he doesn’t attempt to mimic Austen’s writing in “Dawn of the Dreadfuls,” which comes out in March.
“I just can’t imagine anything more painful for me or for the reader than me trying to sound like Jane Austen,” Hockensmith said.
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