Friday, April 29, 2011

Steve Hockensmith's "Dreadfully Ever After"

Steve Hockensmith is the author of Dawn of the Dreadfuls, the best-selling prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. He also writes the “Holmes on the Range” mystery series. He lives in Alameda, Calif., with a grown-up person, two non-grown-up people and a semi-grown-up dog.

Here he explains the prospects for a big-screen adaptation of his latest novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After, and his choices for the cast:
Does anyone ask a kernel of corn if it wants to be ground up for tortillas, canned as a Niblet or puffed and powdered and dumped in a Count Chocula box? No. Because everyone knows the kernel of corn has no say in the matter.

Oh, and corn can’t talk. There’s that, as well. If you’ve been asking yourself why your popcorn’s so stand-offish every time you try to start a conversation, now you know why.

I think most people get this about authors, too. Not that we can’t talk! Good god, can we talk. Ever hang out in the bar at a writer’s conference? What a bunch of Chatty Cathys and/or Carls. Finally, we’re in the company of people who find writer’s block, e-book pricing and ourselves as fascinating as we do -- and the booze is tax deductible! The result: schmoozapalooza.

But back to the point at hand. (Yes, there is one.) Most people understand that writers have no say in what becomes of their creations once Hollywood takes them upstairs to show them its etchings. So talking about the cast or director or best boy that you, The Author, would prefer...? It’s not just pie in the sky, it’s usually pie somewhere beyond the orbit of Pluto.

My sky-pie is just a wee tad closer to Earth than usual, however, for this reason: I’ve written the sequel to a novel that might (or might not) be turned into a film very, very soon (or 35 years from now). I’m waffling on the timeline because the adaptation in question hasn’t had a smooth road to the screen. The road, in fact, seems to be mined. Here’s the deal.

My new book is Dreadfully Ever After. It’s the sequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which has been in development as a feature film since shortly after the invention of celluloid. I think the first director attached to the project was Buster Keaton. Eventually, Flirting with Disaster/Three Kings auteur David O. Russell was brought in to write and direct, and Natalie Portman was set to produce and star. But then Russell left, and Portman left, and a replacement for Russell (Year of the Dog writer/director Mike White) came and went so quickly it felt like a weird dream afterward. (“And then a pony was driving a fire engine, and a giant dog ate the tires, and my mom got mad at the dog and chased it with a newspaper, and Mike White was hired to direct Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and the dog sat on a...hey, wait. Didn’t that Mike White thing really happen?”)

As I write this, word on the street has it that Craig Gillespie (director of Lars and the Real Girl and the upcoming Fright Night remake) is taking over the project. Could be. Sometimes the word on the street is something one really should pay heed to. Like when it’s STOP, for instance. The rest of the time one should just treat it like NO DUMPING. DRAINS TO BAY. (You ignore that one, too, don’t you? Please tell me it’s not just me. I mean, what else am I supposed to do with all the toxic sludge that’s left over after I’ve brewed up a batch of homemade anti-freeze?)

Any day now (meaning any day between today and the moment our sun goes supernova), it’ll be announced who’s going to play Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy and Disemboweled Ball Guest #4 and so on in the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies movie. And that’ll determine what actors I get when my novel’s brought to the screen three-ish years later. Assuming the first film’s a hit, of course. If it’s not, when/if my book gets filmed it’ll star refugees from WB dramas of the early ’00s and will premiere on Netflix Instant View.

So, to recap: My novel is actually closer to having a real, live cast than most books, even though “closer” means half a step forward on the high road to China. With that in mind (“that” being the utter futility of this whole thought experiment), I herewith offer my casting picks for Dreadfully Ever After: The Motion Picture.

Elizabeth Bennet: Betty White

Fitzwilliam Darcy: Samuel L. Jackson

Lady Catherine de Bourgh: Lady Gaga

Anne de Bourgh: Adam Lambert (Really. I think he’d nail it. And wouldn’t this whole thing be better as a musical anyway?)

The Dreadfuls: The Kardashians

Disemboweled Ball Guest #4: Me
Visit Steve Hockensmith's website.

Writers Read: Steve Hockensmith.

--Marshal Zeringue