I’m crazy excited to celebrate the release of The Sleepover today—a book I had a ridiculous amount of fun writing, and hopefully one that will keep readers laughing as they try to solve the mystery!!
The Sleepover is a kid-friendly parody of the movie The Hangover.
C’mon, be honest. When you watched that movie, your first thought was “This should be a children’s book,” right? (If so, I’m a little worried for you!)
But that’s exactly what made it such a joy to work on—trying to take absurd and inappropriate scenarios and twist them into something equally zany and potentially embarrassing in the realm of the middle school world was both challenging and a blast.
It’s also what makes retellings and spoofs so accessible to both readers and authors.
From an author’s perspective, much of the story’s framework is in place and it’s more a matter of putting a personal stamp on it, versus inventing something entirely from scratch. This can make writing especially accessible to newer writers or students, who might find having a road map makes attempting longer-form fiction feel less intimidating. Either the characters, the setting, or the plot itself can stay the-same-but-different in the updated piece.
As an example, in The Hangover, Zach Galifianakis (definitely had to Google that spelling!), as the future brother-in-law of the missing groom, was both a misfit and utterly endearing. He wore his heart on his sleeve and craved the others’ acceptance, much as he also alienated them by blurting out outrageous statements. I followed a very close sketch in creating the character of Veronica in The Sleepover. As the stepsister-to-be of the birthday girl who has gone missing when the guests wake up the next morning, Veronica is all-too-happy to wax on about her passion for unicycle floor hockey, tarot cards, and night vision goggles, (much to other girls’ incredulity), but when push comes to shove, she goes all in to help track down the missing Anna Marie.
I also stuck closely to the plot points of the Hangover (with kid-friendly tweaks of course!) but I won’t ruin any of the mystery by delving into those. Instead I can point out some other examples of modern retellings, where authors followed the story beats of the original source. Take Curtis Suttenfeld’s new adult release Eligible—it’s a faithful update of Pride and Prejudice (which has spawned many great retellings through the years, such as the movie Clueless, Bridget Jones’ Diary, the web series Lizzie Bennett Diaries, and–who can forget–Pride and Prejudice and Zombies).
Some other kidlit books that put a modern spin on original source material or take characters from famous works and set them on their own course:
- Cinder by Marissa Meyer (sci-fi retelling of Cinderella)
- Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis (sci-fi retelling of Snow White)
- The Selection series by Kiera Cass (based heavily on the premise of the TV series The Bachelor)
- Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige (based on the Wizard of Oz; as is the Broadway play Wicked, which was based on Gregory Maguire’s novel of the same name)
- Monstrous by MarcyKate Connoly and This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzie Lee (both based on character of Frankenstein)
- City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (began as Harry Potter fan fiction)
It’s been said there are no new ideas under the sun, but I say we can have major fun with the ones we already have!
What are some of your favorites retellings or spoofs (bonus points for the first person to mention Monty Python!)