A new book based on classic characters – does that work?

Quite some time ago I finished reading “Rhett Butler’s People,” a sequel of “Gone with the Wind, written by Donald McCaig and I was disappointed.

 

Like many other romantic readers, I had waited for a continuation of this story when Scarlett, who had just discovered her love to Rhett would find him again and they both get together into a “heart-exploding-soul-warming-smile-magic-star-raining” Happy End.

 

I think the more modern language the book has been written in had taken me the ‘gusto’ of the history within the story. Besides: I had been a huge fan of Rhett and the life he adjusted to during his time “after Scarlett” confused me. He was described as a free spirit, and may it as it was, but I had to re-think my liking for him.

I am only expressing my opinion at this point. Some other readers might not share my taste at all and will be enthusiastic about this book. But to me, it wasn’t the right thing. 

Picture courtesy of Amazon.com - Click the picture it will take you to the book.

click the picture to be taken to the book

 

I started thinking. A new book, based on classic characters. Could this ever work? We read the original, and we love it. Why would we love another story, written by another author? Could this work? Would we recognize the characters? Wouldn’t’ the new novel only be a weak copy of what we loved?

 

A while later I got another book recommended. “The Phantom,” written by Susan Kay. In this book the author had chosen to write about an existing character: The Phantom of the Opera, written by French author Gaston Leroux early last century. As compared to taking the story any further, which was hardly possible since Leroux’ story ends with the protagonist’s death, Susan Kay has developed the past for the Phantom of the Opera. She showed the protagonists parentage, early child- and manhood. In a way, it is more a “completion” to Gaston Leroux’ story which describes more or less the last few months in the Phantom’s life.

Susan Kay writes vividly, interestingly and webs a fascinating past around the man. I am a huge fan of this book and would recommend it to everyone.

 

click the picture to be taken to the book

click the picture to be taken to the book

  

I as well read “Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride”, a book written by Helen Halstead. It tells the story of Jane Austin’s Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. I like the book and think it is a cute sequel. There are a few sentences that are not formally written with the expressions one would expect, and the plot isn’t a plot but it is more like the soft dabble, caused by a series of occurrences, but it is nevertheless to me a charming story with characters we were once introduced to by Jane Austen.

 

 

click the picture to be taken to the book

click the picture to be taken to the book

  

These two examples show me that it is possible to write a novel, using characters which had arisen from another authors’ fantasy. Whether the original author of the book would recognize his characters again or had ever planned on having them developed in a particular direction is a different matter.

 

What books have you been reading that contained other authors characters? Did you like the book? As an author, what is your opinion about basing a novel on another author’s characters? If you could chose characters to write a novel about, who would you pick?

I’d be curious to hear your thoughts. Thank you so much.

movie_collage

 

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15 thoughts on “A new book based on classic characters – does that work?

  1. Screenwriters doing well with comic book super heroes but just saw Gods of Egypt – lotta lousy dialogue in film. Seems Hollywood resurrects a lot for sequels but most of the time the characters are too modernized and PC correct.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think in many ways the authors of these “sequels of classic literature” might be quite devoted fans to the original authors and/or the characters they created.
      (After each Harry Potter Book you could tell within shortest time there was some fan fiction published online. Some of them were really cute pieces to read. But still most of them lacked of the original author’s “finesse”…)

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  2. I have recently read three separate attempts to continue on characters after authors have died. Vince Flynn, Mario Puzo, and Stieg Larsson. I was disappointed in these efforts for the most part as they seemed to be focused on making money and not quality.

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  3. It’s a hit or miss proposition at best. I’ve seen books where writers tried to take up the reins where the original authors left off like Dorothy L. Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey, or Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe and they just don’t feel the same. The only cases I can think of where a new writer took over for an original author are the ones who actually were working with the creator of those beloved characters.

    The Myth Books by Robert Asprin is a case where Mr. Asprin decided to return to his beloved characters with Jody Lynne Nye. Together they completed several books in his series before his unexpected passing. Luckily having learned worked with Mr. Asprin, Miss Nye has successfully kept the series going, while growing the characters and still making them feel like the old friends we’ve come to know and love.

    August Derleth was one of many authors who took up HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos successfully, but he had actually known Mr. Lovecraft and had gotten pointers from the man himself.

    As Don Massenzio pointed out in a previous comment, it comes down to how dedicated the author is to actually keeping faithful to the spirit of the original works or money. The audience wants quality when well established characters are being used by a new author, not a new take on them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your much appreciated comment, Allan. What you delivered is valuable information on these books, series, characters and authors.
      In particular I’m curious about the Myth books you described. I haven’t had another one in my hands after I heard Mr. Asprin had passed away.
      Thank you!!

      Like

  4. Movie John Carter of Mars was ridiculed by critics. I thought it was spectacular and characters/actors well crafted much as I imagined them. Perhaps it is because as a young teen over 50 years ago I read all 11 books in the series by Edgar Rice Burroughs and it was thrilling and captivating to see my mind’s visions as I read way back then on the big screen. I really appreciate how you support my blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I experienced pretty much the same thing with “Lord of the Rings”. I first of all didn’t think there would ever a movie be made out of these books because they’re so complex. Then I saw the series and I’m fascinated. But some “hardcore fans” of the books hate the movies.
      And it’s my pleasure to check your art on your blog. I love it. 🙂

      Like

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