A week of literary mash-ups – Part 5

Imitation is the highest form of flattery . . . I guess. The editors at HarperTeen looked at the rousing success little publisher Quirk Books had with its 2009 mash-up novel for adults, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and said, why don’t we bring out something similar for teen readers? Early teen girls love Louisa [...]

A week of literary mash-ups – Part 4

Quirk Books created the concept of the literary mash-up back in 2009. It’s simple. Take a classic novel that’s in the public domain – it’s free, you don’t have to pay royalties to anyone – then hire a good mystery writer or sci-fi writer to add a wacky element to the story . . . [...]

A week of literary mash-ups – Part 3

Here you are, a small outfit – Quirk Books – with a NYT bestseller and a prequel that does, well, so-so . . . maybe you can get another bestseller if you bring out a third book in the series. Quirk Books editor Jason Rekulak bet the house he could make that happen. He went [...]

A week of literary mash-ups – Part 2

If you’ve published a novel that hits number three on the New York Times bestseller list during its debut week and a major film company buys the movie rights, you’ve got a franchise started, right? You’ve got to cash in on it. You’re going to publish a sequel or maybe a prequel . . . [...]

A week of literary mashups – Part 1

Before Honest Abe picked up an axe to go after vampires in last year’s mashup novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Elizabeth Bennet faced down zombies in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Seth Grahame-Smith wrote both books, well, 29 percent of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Jane Austen’s original Pride and Prejudice makes up three-quarters of [...]

A week of memorable titles – Part 1

Sue Grafton launched her alphabet series of Kinsey Millhone crime novels with A is for Alibi, 30 years ago. Over those 30 years, Grafton’s written 21 Millhone novels, with number 22 coming out in paperback at the end of next month. The title? V is for Vengeance. Three more books and Grafton will have finished [...]

“Phantom Tollbooth” a half-century old – Part 4

“I think the only reason the book came out is because I did absolutely everything wrong,” Norton Juster says of his now classic children’s book, The Phantom Tollbooth, published way back in 1961. When Juster finished his manuscript, a friend took it to an editor at Random House, a man who knew nothing about children’s [...]

“Phantom Tollbooth” a half-century old – Part 3

As good as The Phantom Tollbooth was, it may not have worked – or worked as well as it did – without the illustrations of Jules Feiffer. Norton Juster and Feiffer met at the Brooklyn Navy Yard quite by accident in 1957. The next year, after Juster had completed his three-year hitch in the Navy, [...]

“Phantom Tollbooth” a half-century old – Part 2

The Phantom Tollbooth, now almost 51 years old, tells the story of 10-year-old Milo. “He hates school,” said Tollbooth author Norton Juster in a recent interview, “doesn’t really understand why he has to learn anything and doesn’t believe anything adults tell him and doesn’t understand anything about them and they don’t understand anything about him.” [...]

“Phantom Tollbooth” a half-century old – Part 1

It’s hard to believe that great kids’ book, The Phantom Tollbooth, is 50 years old . . . almost 51. Random House published it way back in 1961 and, last year, Knopf brought out the 50th anniversary edition. Writer Norton Juster and illustrator Jules Feiffer never expected anything much to happen. “It was kind of [...]