Is the Remix Genre Exhausted?

By Jason Boog Comment

Author Alan Goldsher sold another remix book to Thomas Dunne books last week, mashing-up The Sound of Music, vampires, and Nazi zombies.

We caught up with the author of Paul Is Undead: The British Zombie Invasion to ask a single burning question–is it possible to do anything new with the remix genre?

Goldsher replied:  “Absolutely.  My latest, My Favorite Fangs, tries to be very different. The one-sentence, high-concept pitch is The Sound of Music with vampires, and that sounds pretty simplistic — and some might say silly, even — but it’s way more than that.  I’ve taken elements of the movie, and the real von Trapp family history, and undead myths, and jammed them together, then gave it a Monty Python or Family Guy vibe, which has — fingers crossed — created an entity until itself.”

He continued: “I’m also working on a project called The Titans of Rock Save the World, a collection of short stories in which I give paranormal powers to the likes of Bruce Springsteen (The President of the World, of course), and Daltrey and Townsend (crime fighters in a big city, kind of like the TV version of Batman and Robin), and Joni Mitchell (the Good Witch who battles the Evil Witch, Janis Joplin).

“That’s a new approach, in part because it’s short stories, and in part because rather than taking an existing text and adding the paranormal stuff, I’m putting individuals that we all know and love in invented situations, incorporating the known and loved aspects of their music and personalities, all while making certain I balance the horror, the humor, and the history.

“My agent, Jason Ashlock of Movable Type Literary Group, and I have high hopes for finding the perfect publisher for the project, because I feel like that’s the one that might break wide and define the term “remix” for the publishing industry once and for all.”

Q: You call what you do “remix” instead of “mash-up”. What’s the difference?
A: In my head, it’s a pretty simple distinction.  A mash-up is taking a classic novel and adding in paranormal elements — which, if done well, is still a viable entity — whereas my remixes are not beholden to, well, anything.  I’ll use movies, music, and pop culture as source material, as well as actual living, breathing people.

Take Midnight Movie, for instance, my forthcoming collaboration with Tobe Hooper, the man behind The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Tobe and I are both characters in the book (which Crown is publishing in July), and the primary plot points stem from real events in his life, most notably a trippy film screening at the South by Southwest Festival, and a car wreck that almost killed him.  So given the opportunity, I’ll gladly remix your life the way I remixed Tobe’s.

Q: Why has this genre continued to flourish?

A: To me, the number one reason is because the horror/humor combo has proven to be irresistible, the most obvious case being Stephen King, who’s creepy as hell, but also just a damn funny dude.  There’s an enthusiastic, eager audience for stories that mix those two traditions.

(Anecdotally, I was at The Body Shop yesterday, and I’d just found out that the audio version of my Beatles/zombie remix Paul Is Undead had been nominated for an Audie.  When I called my friends and family to share the news, nobody was around, and I had to say something to somebody, so I spilled the beans about the nomination to the woman behind the counter.  When I told her the premise of the book, her eyes lit up, and she said, “I love zombie books.  And I love the Beatles.”)

Ultimately, it’s about picking the logical paranormal/pop culture combo–it’s that juxtaposition that inspires readers–then executing it with enthusiasm, heart, and an original spin, which I hope I’m doing.  And the fact that the week after the deal for My Favorite Fangs was announced publicly, we received about a dozen inquiries about the film rights for the book makes me feel pretty good about the whole thing.