Today we welcome Wayne Josephson, author of this month’s selection Emma and the Vampires. Here he shares how he brought the vampires to Emma’s world. Be sure to enter for a chance to win an autographed copy at the end.
I’d like to tell you how I came to write Emma and the Vampires and why it’s different from all the other mashups. I always loved to write creatively, and I loved reading Jane Austen in high school and college. A few years ago, I began writing as a second career. I cast about for a story idea just as the first mashup was published–Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I thought it would be fun to try writing one. The first question was: Which classic would I mash up?
I always liked the story of Emma. She’s a beautiful young lady who thinks a bit too much of herself, and fancies that she has a talent for matchmaking. She goes about trying to pair up the young ladies and gentlemen in her village of Highbury, with hilarious and disastrous results. And, like any good story, the character of Emma changes and grows. She learns humility and kindness to others, and comes to understand her own heart. I thought Emma had a great message, especially for young adult readers.
The next question was: What would I mash Emma with? My teenage daughter, who was a fan of the Twilight series, suggested vampires. I thought–how perfect. Emma could be surrounded by gentlemen vampires. She is clueless about everything, so she wouldn’t be aware of them. And besides, everyone in England is pale anyway. Then I created a second group of vampires, the villains in the story–wild, vulgar creatures who menace the young ladies in the village. Emma could prove her courage and valor by helping to vanquish them.
I set about to write my book. I picked up the original Emma and started reading, and was reminded how difficult a book it is. I worried that other readers, especially young adults, might be frustrated with it. Then I remembered many of the readers’ comments on Amazon about the first mashup: “I loved the Zombie part, but I couldn’t understand the Pride and Prejudice part.”
So I decided to rewrite Emma to make it more readable. I wanted young readers to enjoy Emma and be introduced to Jane Austen at a young age, so that maybe they would appreciate the classics for the rest of their lives.
During the next three months, I gently edited the original text of Emma, word by word, sentence by sentence, and page by page. Laboriously, I replaced arcane words with more updated ones–for example, approbation became approval. I streamlined the prose and rearranged passages to flow more smoothly, removing the stumbling blocks that caused readers to become frustrated.
But I retained Jane Austen’s original voice, so that my Emma feels like Jane Austen’s Emma–because essentially it still is. I just made it more readable. Then, with the addition of vampires, I created my mashup Emma and the Vampires that invites readers, especially young adults, to enjoy the classics and more importantly not to fear them.
Wayne Josephson began writing as a second career, after twenty years as a financial analyst on Wall Street. His first published book was a mashup, Emma and the Vampires, based on Jane Austen’s Emma. He then created a series of books called Readable Classics, in which he gently edited great works of literature to help students and young adults better understand and appreciate the classics. This series presently consists of Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, The Scarlet Letter, Moby Dick, and The Odyssey. He has also written a second mashup, Pride, Prejudice and Moby Dick. Wayne received his BA from Emory University and his MBA from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He lives in Virginia with his wife and three children.