Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Janitors, Zombie Children, and Crossing Premises

by Chad Morris

Before we get to subject at hand, let's talk about 


These days I’m reading “Janitors” by Tyler Whitesides to my kids while they lay in bed at night. 

After each chapter they ask for more. On Monday, after I read an hour plus beyond their bedtime, I finally had to draw the line. I left the hallway with three of my children still chanting “One more chapter!”
I love it, but I stood my ground. I didn’t want to wrestle with sleep-deprived zombie children the next day.


So I finally saw this . . .

Yeah, yeah. So all of you saw it last year some time. I’m a little behind.

I have to admit that Snow White has never been my favorite story. I even find the Disney version less enchanting that most of their other films (Though we’d all have to admit that Dopey rocks!). I also have to admit that I’m not that excited about watching Kristen Stewart for a couple hours (Sorry Twlight fans. She’s just a little too mopy for me.). But the story got me (with an assist from the special effects). It seems like a very original and creative retelling. I’m curious. Hope it lives up to the hype.

The premise for Snow White has obviously stood the test of time. But there is no way I would be intrigued by just a normal retelling. That has been done. But coming at it from more of an epic angle changed things for me. It seems more like Snow White, crossed with Lord of the Rings, crossed with Alice in Wonderland (no surprise on this last one).

I’ve notice this is a trick that can really work. Take an existing premise and cross it with another one. I’m only 16 pages in the Hunger Games (I know. I know. I’m not going to make it before the movie comes out. We’ve got a busy weekend anyway. Maybe I’ll see it next week.) I think I’ve had a little trouble getting into it because the premise is everywhere online and in the previews. So far there hasn’t been anything to really spark me. It isn’t Collins’ fault, it’s the media’s. But it seems like a dystopian cross between The Most Dangerous Game and the Olympics. I’m sure I’ll love it once I get a little further.
I remember going to a class on queries by J. Scott Savage and James Dashner. Dashner said that he pitched Maze Runner and compared it to a cross between Ender’s Game, Lord of the Flies, and Holes. 

Need a premise idea? Maybe mix it up. Cross True Grit and The Giver. Mix King Arthur with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Oh, and these days it seems like you can just throw Zombies into anything and it will get some attention. It just might work. Or not. Crossing The Scarlet Letter and Tron might not be the best idea. (Maybe if it had Zombies.) 

Any good mixture ideas?

Thanks for reading bloggers and blog readers, and people in India who couldn’t sleep.


  1. I've been meaning to read Janitors. Hmm... maybe I should pick that up.

    And I hesitate on re-tellings, but this looks pretty good.

  2. You're right about mixing it up. I've been thinking about that myself, but I'm not sure what kind of combo I'd want to write.

    I got Janitors for my oldest granddaughter. She loved it, blew through it.

  3. I think mixing up concepts is one of the best ways to come up with something original and fun!

    I love that your kids are loving Janitors. Yay for little readers! :)

  4. You know the mix up I want? Harry Potter and Pride and Prejudice!

  5. Oooh! I'm with Angie - HP with P&P. Oh yeah! And I want to read Janitors so bad. My son gave it to my mom to borrow. Can you believe that?

  6. I love the cover for Janitors!
    I'm really interested in seeing this film, in spite of Kristen Stewart. I'm sorry, there's just something about that girl that irritates me. Nothing to do with the Twilight films, I haven't seen any of them.


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