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SO WHAT EXACTLY IS THE GENRE OF YOUR BOOKS? They've been called mash-ups, but I tend to think of them as revisionist. Certainly Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a mash-up in the pure sense. It's two completely disparate things mashed together: zombies and a pre-existing work of literature. I think Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is just a gothic treatment of an existing life. But [my newest book] Unholy Night is no more a mash-up than Wicked is a mash-up. You're getting into a well-worn story through a different prism. In Unholy Night I'm taking it through the imagined lens of the Three Wise Men in telling the Nativity Story.

HOW DID THE GIGS OF WRITING THE SCRIPTS FOR DARK SHADOWS AND ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER COME TO YOU? I wrote the Abraham Lincoln one first. The novel was done, and Tim [Burton] approached me. He had heard about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and he wondered, "What'll this guy do next?" He found out about Vampire Hunter, and bought the rights to it early on. So I worked on the script for that, and out of the process of working with Tim as a producer on that one, and him seeing my draft on Lincoln, he offered Dark Shadows to me. I was still doing revisions on the Lincoln script while I was writing Dark Shadows.

THE LINCOLN SCRIPT WAS AN ORIGINAL ONE BY YOU, FROM YOUR OWN BOOK. BUT THERE WAS ALREADY A DARK SHADOWS SCRIPT BY JOHN AUGUST [WHO WROTE CORPSE BRIDE AND CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY] THAT YOU WERE HIRED TO TAKE A SECOND SWIPE AT. HOW DID YOU GO AT BOTH PROJECTS? With Lincoln I was sitting with producers and the director, and we had general conversations about the tone and the approach. Certain things were very evident. The book doesn't have a central villain, so we had to create that. The book doesn't have, for better or worse, a thrilling climax. So we needed to create a thrilling and satisfying climax. And it all needed to make sense and not be arbitrary. I took a lot of different stabs at that movie before we settled into something that worked. As far as John's script for Dark Shadows, he's a great writer who had written a very straightforward, dark take on it, that was more of an ensemble, and not so Barnabas-centric. But we wanted to shift it back to Barnabas's point of view, and infuse it with some fun. Those were my marching orders from Tim and Johnny. I did preserve some of John's draft, but I added the humor.

>> REVIEW: "Dark Shadows" by Peter Keough <<

I HEARD THAT ONE OF THE PERKS YOU GOT WHILE RESEARCHING ABE LINCOLN WAS GETTING TO ACTUALLY HOLD A HAND-WRITTEN COPY OF THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS. TRUE? I did get to hold it when I was at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois. It was in the basement, in a tightly controlled sealed vault. I had to wear white gloves, and it was in a slip case. I also got to touch his top hat that still had the finger marks from when he would take it off and tip it to people. That was amazing!

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