MANHATTAN (CN) – Blasting the author of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” in a federal complaint, Hachette Book Group says Seth Grahame-Smith should fork over half-a-million dollars because his long-awaited next title is a dud.
Hachette paid the $500,000 in question, according to the Aug. 26 complaint, as part of a $2 million advance in 2010 for Smith’s next two books.
Conceding that Smith fulfilled the first part of the deal, Hachette notes that it published “The Last American Vampire” last year as a sequel to Smith’s hit 2010 novel “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.”
But Hachette says its contract also required Smith to submit another original work by June 2013.
Hachette says it gave Smith several extensions on his deadline, and that his final deadline was late June 2016.
When Smith finally delivered that month, however, Hachette says the manuscript was not the one it ordered.
As Hachette tells it, the specifications for the book were minimal.
The title had to be in the same style as “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” but Smith’s personal-services company Baby Gorilla could pick the novel’s subject, according to the complaint.
Hachette maintains that it wanted to give written approval of the subject, however, and that the book had to be between 80,000 and 100,000 words.
But the manuscript Smith turned in “varied so materially and substantially from that described in the agreement,” the complaint says.
Hachette says it never gave written approval of the subject Smith chose, and that the manuscript “materially varies from the 80,000-100,000 word limit.”
Rather than an original work, moreover, Smith’s offering “instead is in large part an appropriation of a 120-year-old public-domain work,” the complaint says.
Worse yet, the publisher says Smith’s new book “is not comparable in style and quality to Smith’s wholly original bestseller ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.'”
Representatives for Smith have not returned a request for comment.
The writer’s website notes that “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” singlehandedly birthed the “mash-up craze” in 2009.
Books in the mash-up genre reimagine classic literature with new material, such as zombies, vampires, werewolves and other horror tropes. While these novels tend to be inherently derivative, most authors avoid copyright issues by basing their books on texts that are in the public domain.
Though “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” book sold more than 2 million copies, with translations into more than 20 languages, its film adaptation was a dud.
Starring “Downton Abbey’s” Lily James, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” opened past February 2016 to mixed reviews and low box-office numbers.
Smith had not written the screenplay for that movie, however, as he had for the 2012 Tim Burton-produced adaptation of his “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” which reportedly earning $137 million in the worldwide box office.
“The Last American Vampire,” Smith’s sequel to the book, follows Lincoln’s vampire-hunting mentor Henry O. Sturges into the 20th century.
Hachette wants its $500,000 back. It is represented by Alexander Gigante with Cowan DeBaets Abrahams & Sheppard.
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