Seth Grahame-Smith’s latest battle involves himself, a contract, and zero zombies: The author of Pride And Prejudice And Zombies is being sued by his publisher, Hachette, for breach of contract. According to court documents posted by Publishers Marketplace, Hachette filed the lawsuit last Friday and alleges that Grahame-Smith has failed to deliver on the terms of a 2010 book deal in which Grahame-Smith promised to deliver two books by June 2013, and received a $500,000 advance for each.
The first book was supposed to be a sequel or spinoff to Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, Grahame-Smith’s follow up to Pride And Prejudice And Zombies that blended actual biographical content about the 16th President of the United States with a horror-action vampire story. (Like Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter was also turned into a movie.) The second book included in the 2010 contract had vague specifications, but was supposed to be “comparable in style, quality, and broad appeal to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” Grahame-Smith delivered on the first book, writing the sequel The Last American Vampire, which came out in 2015. But the second book specified in the contract never materialized.
According to the lawsuit, Grahame-Smith asked for two extensions on the second novel, but when he failed to deliver by April 1, 2016, Hachette sent the writer a letter notifying him that they were terminating the agreement and that he had a 60-day grace period to either deliver a manuscript or pay back the advance. Grahame-Smith turned in a manuscript on June 6, but according to Hachette, this draft he churned up was “not original to Smith, but instead is in large part an appropriation of a 120- year-old public-domain work; materially varies from the 80,000-100,000 word limit fixed in the Agreement; is on a subject that was never approved by Hachette in writing, as required by Paragraph 1(b) of the Agreement; and is not comparable in style and quality to Smith’s wholly original bestseller Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.”
So did Grahame-Smith phone it in? Hachette seems to think so. But publishing contracts can also be nasty beasts akin to the monsters Grahame-Smith loves so dearly. The lawsuit does not explicitly name which public domain work Grahame-Smith appropriated, but Entertainment Weekly’s best guess is that it could be H.G. Wells’ novel The Island Of Dr. Moreau, which came out 120 years ago in 1896.
[via Entertainment Weekly]