The mash-up – is the genre already dead?

We’ve all seen the mash-up novel in our local bookshop. For most of us they came to our attention with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but is this more than a few novels mixing horror elements with classic text? Is it a genre? Has it already been and gone?

Should you try to write a mash-up or is it a waste of time?

Why write a mash-up?

Clearly it could be an attractive proposition. Grab some public domain text from a well-known novel, blend in something selling like hotcakes and you have your name next to a famous author on the next best seller! Well maybe not!

The attraction in my view is that it might be simple to do, fun and possibly an easy way to add to your portfolio.

Is the mash-up a real genre?

Probably at the moment it is a style. Hip-Hop / R&B to an extent covered analogous lines by rapping on top of well-known segments of other records (and there is a study to be written of how music and writing are out of phase with each other on occasion) but is now a genre as it has its own section in the music shops and web-stores. When mash-ups get the same status then yes.

There is also a sub-style problem: originally they were Gothic / horror mixed with nineteenth century novel (mostly) now I find that Fifty Shades has inspired Jane Eyre Laid Bare. I believe that this answers my ‘is it dead?’ question with a ‘no, not currently’ but also points to a brand problem.

The mash-up brand problem

I believe that there is more opportunity to blend other styles. Take science-fiction for example, that could give us (and I copyright all these titles!):

  • A Tale of Two Martian Cities
  • Return of the Native Venusian
  • Oliver Twist – Space Commando!

We could then move further back in time, let’s go large and go for Shakespeare himself (all copyright me!):

  • Romeo and Juliet – the star crossed lovers, and Androids!
  • Macbeth – death lord of the galaxy
  • Comedy of Computer Errors
  • Coriol of Uranus.

Science-fiction has already given us a short story called The Merchant of Venus and of course Forbidden Planet is entirely based on The Tempest.

We could also mash-in other genres – there must some western versions of all of these for example.

What not to do

Sherlock Holmes is tempting though already very alive as a set of ongoing novels so I would leave alone. Copyright makes us stick to pre-1900 (probably a bit later) and I would avoid overworked authors. We have seen Jane Austen mined to death so it must be time to move on.

What Next?

I fully intend to give it a go and get something complete by Easter 2013. I will set this up as a new project and let you track my success. See you on the best-seller list!



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