Tuesday, May 4, 2010

That Was My Heart You Stabbed

Ran by the library on my way home from--what else?--Bible study and saw this new release on the shelf. For those of you who do much book-browsing, you know already that JANE SLAYRE is just the latest in a line of classic-mashed-up-with-paranormal offerings stalking us on the bestseller lists. This one deserves special recognition, however, because (1) the cover is gorgeous--better than looking at Elizabeth Bennett with that half-eaten face on PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES; and, (2) the title is delightful (much more clever than the mashup in Point #1. I still don't plan on buying or reading it, but kudos nonetheless. I am disappointed in the byline: "The literary classic with a blood-sucking twist," since, after all, every single one of these mashups has the same kind of twist, so if every book follows the same formula, can it really claim to have a "twist"?

Besides--I love JANE EYRE, just as I love PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, and I learned long ago that letting other writers have their way with someone else's characters just leads to heartbreak. Call this the lesson learned when I eagerly picked up Alexandra Ripley's so-awful-it-could-have-triggered-another-Civil-War SCARLETT. What can I say? I was twenty-one at the time. I should have known better. But what can excuse the scene where Rhett and Scarlett go sailing..? Sailing?????? Just a few years ago I fell for the trick again--there sat RHETT BUTLER'S PEOPLE on the library shelf, and I checked it out. Listen up, people: reading follow-ons written by different authors is like getting back together with your high school sweetheart decades later and expecting to feel sixteen again. It. Just. Doesn't. Happen.

So those whole tables of Austen derivatives? You know what I mean--MR. DARCY'S DIARY, MR. DARCY TAKES A WIFE, MR. DARCY GETS HIS FIRST PEDICURE (kidding about that one)--I walk on by. Don't even read the back covers.

What about the original mashups, you ask? You know, where the author got started and either dropped it or dropped dead, and someone else had to finish? Wouldn't know. Never read any Brian Herbert working off of Frank Herbert or any of the "finished" version of Twain's #44, THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER or Dickens' THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD. They might work. I, for one, can't tell where Mozart keeled over, when I listen to his unfinished Requiem.

Would love to hear from you all on this one. Has anyone every read a completion, or follow-on, or mashup that they thought approached the charm of the original?


  1. Oh, Christina, there's a baby on your cover. I've read books with babies, so I guess I know how this one turns out. Not going to pick that one up.

    Jane Slayre- don't knock it until you've READ it. I would never do that to another author (except for you, now). Bad form. I'm biased, of course, but you might want to check out my starred review from Library Journal or my glowing Publisher's Weekly review, and consider actually reading my book before assuming all mash-ups are created equal. (Have you read any of them? Really? Even one? We're not the same).

    You're entitled to be a purist, of course. I understand that not everyone loves the concept. But Jane Eyre will always be there, unaltered, in no way diminished by the homage. And after hundreds of years, we've seen adaptations of Shakespeare (who was adapting others), of classic fairy tales, movie adaptations of classics that change that story, and shows like Wicked on Broadway. This really isn't all that different a concept.

  2. Dear Ms. Erwin!
    I guess I should've known my little post wouldn't go unnoticed in this day of Google Alerts. I'm so sorry to have offended you. My post was meant to be more about my kneejerk reaction to paranormal mash-ups and follow-ons of familiar characters than a particular bashing of your book, which, as you point out, I haven't read. In fact, I liked your title and cover!

    In any case, we are certainly each allowed our personal tastes, and I don't think my tiny little blog will have any impact on your sales or readers' reactions (I didn't like THE HELP, for example, and 99.9% of the rest of the world, including my few readers did). More likely they'll see your gorgeous cover and run out to pick it up!

    Just chalk my comments up to my personal bad taste and forget about them. You're a published author with glowing reviews! Who cares what I think?

  3. I'm not worried about your impact, Christina. I just don't know how you can talk about community and friendship when you offhandedly trash other authors on your blog- books you have not even read. I have found tremendous support in the author community. Your reaction surprised me. At least, you read The Help to comment on it, didn't you? I don't care if you don't like it. You haven't even read it to know. That's my point.

  4. Again, my apologies. I do tend to operate from the "it's just little-old-me out here, thinking thoughts..."

    And again, I have not read the book and considered the post more of personal reaction to a trend than a shoot-out of other authors. Much to learn on my part. Please forgive me.

  5. Forgiven. Thank you. But keep in mind that not all books of a genre are the same. I also write romance novels and have faced the same stereotyping. You can't really just say, "well, it's a mystery (romance, mash-up, women's fiction, etc...) they're all the same." They're not. Just something to keep in mind. :)

  6. Lauren Enkema BishopMay 27, 2010 at 8:07 AM

    Christina I have read and thoroughly enjoyed THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD. Bellevue Christian actually did a stage performance of the story a while back and I was thoroughly amused. I agree with you on the crossover novels now days are getting a little kitschy, but by the same token I think that I have read quite a few of them. next on my list are Abraham lincoln vampire slayer and now JANE SLAYRE. I think that your blog has been a good jumping off point for lots of us to read new books out there. THanks for the mentions of these new versions of great classics! Keep up the good work!

  7. Enjoyed this spirited exchange between authors. In my opinion, I give Ms. Erwin credit for the point that books should be read prior to developing an opinion. People can have a separate opinion concerning genres based on past experience. I give Ms. Dudley credit for the valid point that rehashing the same theme in very book can hardly be called a "twist".
    Really good authors develop original ideas. Our literary culture has become pretty lazy of late, relying on re-invention of the tried and true money makers in books, film and on stage. It makes money, but is it the best we can do as a culture?