Wednesday, 13 February 2008

A Universal Truth About Sequels and Zombies

Okay, I have to get washed and dressed and polished in 15 minutes to attend the reception for winners of the Undiscovered Voices competition run by British SCBWI.

But blog I must because this is too important to put off.

The wise and worldly Maureen Johnson recently dispensed some free Awesome Advice to writers gnashing their teeth over writing sequels:
Advice One: Remember What You Wrote in the First Book

Advice Two: Add At Least One Zombie
To demonstrate Advice Two, she presented this revision of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen:

“What think you of books?” said he, smiling.

“Books? Oh! No, I am sure we never read the same, or not with the same feelings.”

“I am sorry you think so; but if that be the case, there can at least be no want of subject. We may compare our different opinions.”

“No. I cannot talk of books in a ballroom; my head is always full of something else.”

Hearing this, a nearby zombie turned, lured by the prospect of whatever was contained within Elizabeth’s head. He was within striking distance of her when the other dancers caught him up and swept him away by accident.

“The present always occupies you in such scenes, does it?” said Darcy, throwing a look of doubt at the still-flailing zombie as he was pulled down the line.

“Yes, always,” she replied, without knowing what she said, for her thoughts had wandered far from the subject. Elizabeth’s distraction was not related to the zombie. She had not seen it, and was only vaguely aware of the fact that the time of the dance had been thrown off by the newcomer’s awkward shuffling and the panic that ensued.

“I remember hearing you once say, Mr. Darcy, that you hardly ever forgave, that your resentment once created was unappeasable. You are very cautious, I suppose, as to its being created.”

The zombie once again made his shambling way toward Elizabeth and the delicious promises of her coconut-like head.

“I am,” said he, with a firm voice designed to scare away the interloper.

“And never allow yourself to be blinded by prejudice?”

“I hope not,” Darcy replied, noting with satisfaction that the zombie had once again been dragged into the action by the remaining dancers who had not yet observed his presence in their midst.

The zombie, confounded by recent events, tired of the chase for Elizabeth. He instead ripped off the head of the nearby Sir Watkin Smiley-Franklin and commenced in the eating of his brain, which pleased Mr. Darcy even more. Sir Watkin was a terrible bore on the subject of farm taxes, and Mr. Darcy was much relieved to see all of his thoughts on the subject being consumed by the zombie’s loose, grinding jaw.

The zombie thing was such a hit that she has launched her Insert a Zombie Win A Prize competition which attracted a celebrity entry from Scott Westerfeld based on Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities
It was the best of apocalypses, it was the worst of apocalypses. It was an age of brain eating, it was an age of shotguns. It was the epoch of damaging the head, or of removing it from the body. It was the season of light infantry weapons, it was the season of dark pursuits through abandoned sewers. We had everything at the local mall before us, but there were too many zombies in the way. In short, the period was so far like the present period—except for, you know, all the frickin’ zombies.
Needless to say Scott has been promptly disqualified for being married to one of the judges.

The deadline is tomorrow!

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