Interviewed by OBS Staffer Angie.
Steve Hockensmith, has taken some time to answer a few questions that will help when reading (or explain after reading) his book Dawn of the Dreadfuls. Mr Hockensmith has written several other books as well and you can find a complete anthology on his website at www.stevehockensmith.com.
You can read Angie’s review of Dawn of the Dreadfuls HERE.
Now, on to the good stuff!!
Your book is a prequel to a book that had already been written by another author. How did knowing the plot/theme/style of that book influence your writing style?
Not as much as you might think! When I first started talking to Jason Rekulak, the editor at Quirk Books who dreamed up the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies concept, it became clear pretty quick that he didn’t want a pastiche — a slavish attempt to copy someone else’s style. Which was fine by me, because I wouldn’t have taken on a project like that. What was important, we agreed, was matching the tone, not the style. Meaning I had to be funny in more-or-less the same way as the first book, but I didn’t have to sound like the first book. So that liberated me to write a novel with a more contemporary vibe and a new sensibility — my own.
Without giving away too much of the story, Elizabeth and her sisters have to put aside proper conventions of their time and really become warriors. How much time did you spend researching the era to get the time period down?
I took a few weeks to brainstorm and research before I started writing. And of course I kept on looking at all kinds of reference material throughout the writing process, which took several months. So in a way I never stopped researching. Every day, I had to look up all kinds of little details — what people would say or do or wear in a given situation — and that kept me in touch with the period.
How were you able to accurately reflect the conflict that some women have when trying to be feminine and strong at the same time?
Good question — because that is, at its core, what the book is about. It’s hard to come up with a good answer for you, though. I’ve always liked women with strong personalities. Not divas. Individualists. So I suppose I drew from that, as well as with my research into the constraints women had to live with in Jane Austen’s day. Plus I’ve got a good imagination!
Would you like for your books to follow the same process? If so then which actors would you want to play:
A 20-year-old Winona Ryder.
A 25-year-old Colin Firth.
A 25-year-old David Tennant.
A 50-year-old Michael Caine.
What future projects are you working on? Can you tell us anything about them?
Thanks for asking! Writers love every opportunity to plug their stuff. I’ve spent the last few weeks putting together my first e-book — a collection of humorous holiday short stories that originally appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. It’s called Naughty: Nine Tales of Christmas Crime. Hopefully, anyone who found Dawn of the Dreadfuls amusing would like it. I’ve also been writing historical mysteries for St. Martin’s Minotaur. The fifth book in the series, World’s Greatest Sleuth!, comes out in January. And then in March, Quirk Books is releasing — drum roll, please — Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After. First we did a prequel, so now we’ve done a sequel. Et voila — we’ve got a trilogy! I’m not sure how much I should say about Dreadfully Ever After at the moment, so let’s just leave it at this: Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for four years and they’re not as happy as we all imagined they’d be…and they’re a lot unhappier still after Darcy’s bitten by a zombie.
What is one thing you’d like your fans to know about you and your books?
Hmmmm. I suppose the main thing would be this: I love hearing from my readers. If you enjoy my books, drop by my website, friend me on Facebook, tweet me, e-mail me, whatever. Just let me know you’re there! Writing for a living is a tough, tough gig, and every time I hear from a satisfied customer it makes it a little easier to keep forging on.
Who are some of your literary influences?
My favorite author by far is Kurt Vonnegut, but I don’t know how much I can call him a “literary influence.” It’s hard to see him in my work…at least what I’ve done so far. Maybe I’ll grow more Vonnegutty as I get older. I’m also a big admirer of David Sedaris, Catch-22, Raymond Chandler, Little Big Man, Michael Chabon, Charles Dickens, Ursula K. Le Guin, Philip K. Dick, the Coen brothers, Orson Welles, screwball comedies of the 1930s and ’40s, Douglas Adams, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, A Canticle for Leibowitz, Mark Twain and, of course, Jane Austen. Wrap all that up together, throw in some zombies (or at least a few dead bodies), and I guess you’ve got me.
If you could spend time with any author (alive or dead) who would it be and why? What would you expect to gain from that experience?
I would chose to hang out with the men who wrote the Bible. I have a lot of questions for those guys….