In April 2009, Seth Grahame-Smith created a monster when Quirk Books released his literary/horror mashup Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, in which the author infused Jane Austen's classic tome with "ultraviolent zombie mayhem" (which, frankly, is the only worthwhile kind of zombie mayhem). The book became a surprise smash hit, spending 39 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and spawning a litter of genetically enhanced successors including Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, Android Karenina and Pride and Prejudice: Dawn of the Dreadfuls.
Since then, Smith signed with Grand Central Publishing in a two-book deal , the first of which, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, hit shelves this week with a hefty 200,000 copy announced first printing, and a film option from master of the macabre himself, director Tim Burton. And with all due respect to e-readers, the book's ghoulishly inventive packaging reinforces the notion that old-fashioned printed books should never go out of style (let's just say you'll have to see for yourself what Honest Abe is holding behind his back).
With the release of his new book, Smith took some time to offer his Top 10 Horror Inspirations--the movies, music and books that set him down this dark literary path.
Seth Grahame-Smith's Top 10 Horror Inspirations
1. "The Shining" - Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's novel has owned me since I was ten. It's one of the movies that made me want to make movies. And the book's not too shabby, either. True story: I had a paperback copy of The Shining in my hand when I saw my first dead body at age 13.
2. "Jaws" - I know, I know. But I'm a child of the 80's (yes, the movie was released in the 70's, but thanks to top-loading VCR's, I saw it in the 80's), and like it or not, this movie is the sole reason I can't go swimming in deep water to this day.
3. Ghost Recordings - Whether it's in movies or on one of those shows on the Discovery Channel, audio of whispering ghosts freaks me the hell out. Witness the scene in "The Sixth Sense" when Bruce Willis plays that cassette tape. The hair on my arms is standing up even writing about it.
4. "Aliens" - Even though I love Ridley Scott's 1979 original, this was the VHS I wore out as a kid. It's got all the ingredients you could want in a movie: faceless monsters with acid for blood, spaceships you're allowed to smoke on, and the coolest-sounding machine guns in the galaxy.
5. It by Stephen King - I'm an unabashed King worshipper (thus the multiple references on this list - and I'm restraining myself), and this more than any of his books in the 80's scrambled my brains for breakfast.
6. "Night of the Living Dead" - Compared to movies like "28 Days Later" and Zack Snyder's "Dawn of the Dead" remake, Romero's 1968 original looks like a scratchy black and white film school project, but it's still incredibly watchable, and (like good horror does) it has something to say.
7. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury - Bradbury's tale of a small town visited by ancient evil, our fear of growing old and dying, and to me - the sad fact that our parents are unable to protect us from the wickedness of the world. A beautiful book.
8. The Main Title Music of 1984's "Children of the Corn" Movie - You laugh, but go ahead and try listing to those creepy singing kids in a dark room all by your lonesome. I still write to this cue all the time. And yes, this counts as three Stephen King nods.
9. "The Exorcist" - It's not the monster in my closet that scares me, it's the monster in me that scares me.
10. Anything Backwards - I don't know what it is, but the minute something is backwards it becomes terrifying to me. Music played backwards, written backwards, walking and crawling backwards in movies...