We are living in the age of fan-fiction and the genre mash-up, where a new story can be forged simply by changing character names, genre, or location… or by putting zombies into a pre-populated Regency drawing-room.
Meanwhile, authors who at least believe they’re writing something new are struggling more than ever to be heard in the popular chorus.
As we all know, there are no new stories, only old stories told in new ways. And given recent history, we could say that the new way of telling old stories is simply to deny that the old stories existed in the first place. It occurs to me that this is an untapped goldmine for authors. Why bother scraping and striving to create something new, when you can just rework a former blockbuster and pretend it’s all yours?
Just look at Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice alone spawned Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Death Comes To Pemberley, Longbourn, Austenland, and Eligible, amongst others. But not all derivative fiction has to be based on one Jane Austen novel, nor does it have to be so obvious.
What if The Bourne Identity was rewritten as a lifestyle guide? Or Stephen King as YA romance?
Go forth I say, and prosper. If they want us to be sheep, we’ll give them sheep.
- THE BOURNE IDENTITY by YOU
Repudiated Author: Robert Ludlum
New Genre: Lifestyle Non-Fiction
Having become lost in IKEA, Jason Bourne wakes up from a protracted nap with no memory of how he has decided to decorate his achingly cool bachelor pad. He must race before closing time to rediscover and reconstruct an entire lifestyle trend, with only a dog-eared catalogue and two mysteriously popular Instagram accounts to guide him.
- THE DA VINCI CODE by YOU
Repudiated Author: Dan Brown
New Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Friendly scientist Robert and his best friend Sophie go to Europe to learn about the very first Christmas. They have lots of fun in an art gallery before running away from some monsters and somehow earning lots of money.
- THE DARK HALF by YOU
Repudiated Author: Stephen King
New Genre: YA Romance
Until loner Thad Beaumont met Elizabeth, he always felt like something was missing. Thad’s parents always claimed it was because he had his dead evil twin living inside him, but Thad has other ideas. Can Elizabeth convince Thad that love conquers all homicidal tendencies?
- OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO! by YOU
Repudiated Author: Dr Seuss
New Genre: 2017 Self-Help
No idea what you want to do when you leave your school/college/job/home/country/senses? Having trouble imagining your future in the current political climate? Top tips for navigating the unnavigable. This book is a must-have guide to the impending lack of future enjoyed by us all.
- THE HUNGER GAMES by YOU
Repudiated Author: Suzanne Collins
New Genre: Diet Cookery Book
Unable to shift those stubborn Christmas pounds? Sick of fad diets? Join celebrity fitness guru KATNISS EVERDEEN as she takes you on a survivalist’s path to clean eating and unprecedented thinness (with just the teensiest chance of brutal starvation at the hands of a corrupt regime).
- THE TRIAL (renamed as THE ELECTION) by YOU
Repudiated Author: Franz Kafka
New Genre: Political Thriller
A candidate finds himself standing for the highest office of the land, but has no idea what he’s running for. He keeps going in order to validate himself, but finds that no matter how bizarrely he behaves, it makes no difference to the election process. Everyone hates him, and they all die.
- ONE DAY by YOU
Repudiated Author: David Nicholls
New Genre: Crime Fiction
Each year on the same day, Dexter and Emma commit a crime. It’s not a very big crime, and to be honest, it doesn’t seem to have much impact on the lives of anyone around them or anything. Mainly petty theft, being drunk and disorderly, blaspheming, that sort of thing. But it happens on the same day every year, which is apparently gimmicky enough to carry us through.
- TWILIGHT by YOU
Repudiated Author: Stephenie Meyer
New Genre: Literary Fiction
Edward has spent a long time thinking. He is young, but has thought a lot. A whole lot. Especially about death. Some day he hopes to form a connection with somebody who thinks about death as much as he does. If only everything wasn’t so pointless. Like food. Food is pointless, because death is inevitable, and never-ending. Death is life. But so is love. Thinking is hard.
- THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO by YOU
Repudiated Author: Stieg Larsson
New Genre: Historical Fiction
Special Counsel to the Swedish Royal Family, Sir Mikael, has been ruined by false allegations made by jealous courtiers, because he is very attractive to women. When King Vanger asks him to find missing Princess Harriet, who would totally fancy Sir Mikael if she hadn’t vanished thirty-five years ago, Sir Mikael has an opportunity to redeem himself. But who is the mysterious orphan with the dragon tattoo? And why, having been abused by men all her life, does she totally fancy Sir Mikael?
- GONE GIRL by YOU
Repudiated Author: Gillian Flynn
New Genre: Dystopian Fantasy
After his wife Amy disappears, Nick Dunne finds that nothing was as it seemed. Soon it turns out that not only was Amy lying, but Nick too, as well as everyone else, and others besides. When did the entire population become an unreliable narrator? What does this mean for society? Who is really to blame, and even if we knew, is it too late now to do anything about it?
That’s all folks. Let me know when you hit the no.1 spot. Feel free to leave further genre-mangling ideas in the comments.