Thank you for taking the time to join us here for an interview. I know readers are going to love this interview since”Pride & Prejudice & Zombies” has received a lot of great press amongst JAFF readers and writers. Now that the movie has hit the theaters, I bet you’ve been spending time reflecting on your part in this series. I’m not sure that most people realize that the prequel and the sequel to the book “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies,” which the movie is based on, were written by a different author, which happens to be you!
Therefore, you worked alongside both ends of this book, writing the prequel and the sequel. I’d love if you could tell my readers about this process. How did you become involved in writing these books and what did that process look like for you as a writer?
I first heard about the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies months before it came out because I subscribed to Entertainment Weekly, and they really went gaga for the concept. They must have written about it four or five times before it was even released. It always put a smile on my face whenever I’d see it mentioned. It was such a fiendishly clever idea: update old public domain classics with contemporary pop culture cheese. I thought whoever came up with the idea deserved to make a million bucks. And then they did!
The book was a smash, and the writer, Seth Grahame-Smith, got a ton of dough to go write something else. But it had been an editor at Quirk Books, Jason Rekulak, who’d actually come up with the idea for the Austen/zombies “mashup.” That meant Quirk owned the brand and could turn it into a series.
I heard through the grapevine that Quirk was looking for a writer to pick up where Seth left off, so I ran to the nearest bookstore and asked for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Sold out. So I went to the next nearest bookstore and asked for it there. I’ll never forget the look of utter contempt the woman behind the register gave me. “Oh,” she said with a sneer. “That.” And she took me to a table where I found the last copy they had in stock. I bought it, read it, loved it, and asked my agent to get in touch with Jason. I was writing a mystery series at the time that had some vague conceptual similarities to PPZ — it was sort of a mashup of the Sherlock Holmes canon and Westerns with a lot of humor — so maybe that gave me a leg-up on the competition. The upshot: I got the gig.
I could say a lot more about how the actual writing process went, but I’ve probably rambled on long enough. Next question!
What was your initial reaction to reading the book “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies,” and having Austen’s beloved characters spend their time as zombie hunters?
For me, the transition was very smooth. I didn’t find it jarring at all. From the first line, I was just able to go with the joke. Seth really did a great job with it. Which is the whole reason the thing became a phenomenon. The concept was ingenious, but the execution had to be stellar, too.
Then, the books became a big success, and there’s a movie in the works. What was your reaction to this news and what role did you play in creating the movie?
My relationship with the film was always suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuper peripheral. I was just a guy living his life in the Bay Area, hearing the occasional progress report from afar. About two years back, I assumed the movie was dead. It had fallen apart too many times, and its moment seemed to have passed. So I was pleasantly surprised when it was suddenly alive again. I guess you can’t keep a good zombie down!
As you may have read on Just Jane 1813, I didn’t enjoy my first viewing of this movie. I am hoping that just like Mr. Darcy himself, it improves upon further acquaintance, as I’m sure I’ll see it, at least, one more time. What was your reaction to seeing this movie and what are your thoughts about how it’s being received by moviegoers so far?
I get why the film hasn’t been embraced by everyone. I enjoyed it, and I know people who loved it (including my wife), but a period horror-action-drama-comedy is a tricky thing to pull off. In hindsight, that was going to be a very tough sell. I still think there’s a chance the film will find a cult audience when it hits home video, though. The performances are great, the costumes and locations look wonderful, there are some very funny moments, and the whole thing is still really unique and, I think, charming (in its gross way). I also think some people who didn’t care for the film initially will warm up to it over time. So we’ll see. You might be the litmus test! Here’s hoping you dig it more the second time around….
Why are we still as intrigued by Austen and her work over 200 years later? I know I have a couple of theories about this question, but what are your thoughts?
Humanity and humor. It’s an unbeatable combination, and Austen’s got it. That’s one of the reasons people haven’t forgotten Shakespeare. I think Austen’s going to be remembered just as long.
I have to tell you, as I read your blog, I found myself laughing out loud several times. You are one funny guy! You write a very wide range of books and you also write for young adults too. How can readers discover more about you, and your work, read your blog or just join you for a game of Words With Friends?
Thank you! If folks want to learn more about me and my books, they should check out my website (www.stevehockensmith.com), follow me on Twitter (@MrHockensmith) or friend me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/steve.hockensmith.7). And if they want to find out how good I am at Word with Friends (my opinion: not too shabby), they should just challenge me to a match. I’m MrKateMojo, and though I’m already juggling a dozen or so games, there’s always room for more!
Thank you, Steve, for taking the time for this interview. I know my readers will enjoy reading about your work and learning more about you. I have read some really great reviews for your books, which I plan to read as well, and I hope your sequel, “Dreadfully Ever After,” gets its day on the big screen.
I’d like to offer Just Jane 1813 readers a chance to become better acquainted with Steve’s work. Please enter this giveaway by telling us whether or not you’ve seen the movie, “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies,” and any additional comments you’d like to leave about this trilogy below this post by midnight ET on March 9th. The winner will choose an ebook copy of one of Steve’s “Pride and Prejudice” variations, which are shown above in this post. The winner will be announced on this post on March 10, 2016.