Whilst making one of my frequent trips to my local book store to peruse new young adult novel releases, I espied a new title called Prom and Prejudice. It looked as you would expect it to: curly-girly font for the title, pink background behind an image of a prom dress (whose spaghetti strap is in imminent danger of being snipped by a pair of scissors…spoiler alert, perhaps?).
“Terrible news, indeed,” you may be saying. “A high-school-set retelling of Pride and Prejudice, a book beloved by women everywhere? Unnecessary and an insult to the memories of Jane Austen and Colin Firth.”
Alas no – I cry “terrible news” not because I think it is a bad idea but because it was, in fact, MY IDEA FIRST!
Truly, I felt a mixture of heartbreak and despair when I realized my (not quite brilliant, sort of lukewarm, but definitely marketable) idea had been stolen.
Of course, it has not really been stolen from me, since I am quite certain I never spoke aloud of it to anyone*. What I really mean to say is that someone got around to executing an idea that I had, before my lazy ass could get around to writing the damn thing.
It was something like five years ago when I first conceived of the novel Prom and Prejudice (really – the title and all!) – a young adult, chick-lit style romp into the world of Jane Austen. In my version, we’d do a bit of gender bending: Fitzwilliam Darcy would become Darcy Fitzwilliam: Cheerleader and Elizabeth Bennet would become Bennet Elizabeth: Disenfranchised and Intelligent Youth and so on, etc. They would go to a school called Netherfield High, and maybe Darcy would be a transfer from Pemberley Academy?
Something like that, anyway.
I am pretty sure I conceived of this book after watching a marathon of teen movies like Clueless (that’s Austen’s Emma) and She’s the Man (that’s Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night) and just oh, so many others from the 1990s and early 2000s that took classic works of literature and reinterpreted them for the teenage girl.
On a side note: this is a movie trend I have always loved, and actually even though I am whining a bit about my DOA career as a young adult novelist, this is a literature trend I’d like to see more of. Apart from Meg Cabot’s book Avalon High, (which tells the story of King Arthur as reincarnated at a modern high school [and yeah, it’s about as good as it sounds and completely delightful in spite of that]) I cannot really think of any other young adult books that bastardize classic literature for the pleasure of America’s youth.
Anyway, though: it was going to be a thing of beauty, Prom and Prejudice. Okay, not beauty – it was probably going to be a thing of mediocrity, but it was going to be my thing of mediocrity and it was definitely going to get published.
Of course, like all the other ideas I have had for novels (there are many) I never even came close to executing it. Of course, most of the other ideas I have for novels are now much more exciting and interesting to me and I have not had even a thought of writing Prom and Prejudice for some four years at least.
Still, it smarts a bit to go into a bookstore and see a bright pink monument to your failures at life. Since I was 20 I have wanted nothing more than to be a writer of books for teenagers, and since then I haven’t even tried to be a writer of books for teenagers at all.
To top it all off, last night after seeing Prom and Prejudice on the shelves I became convinced I was suffering from a subdural hematoma when I banged my head super hard on my fridge door. As I was falling asleep, certain that I was probably never going to wake up again, all I could think was: Great. I’ve gone and died and I didn’t even get to be the one to write Prom and Prejudice before it happened.
So, after all that, I still manage to have excellent news, my friends.
No more shall I sit idly by and watch my life pass without any hope of young adult novel publication. I do not intend to find any more of my ideas at a bookstore without having a part in getting them there. Seriously. Seriously, for real. This year. Eleven. It’s the year I write a novel.
Get ready for it.
Also, though – should I read Prom and Prejudice?
Part of me thinks it will hurt too much, but part of me thinks it has to be amazing, right? This is a young adult retelling of one of my favorite stories of all time and I’ve already complained of how sparse that genre is and frankly, I do not think I can resist.
*Unless we operate under the assumption that author Elizabeth Eulburg has one of those Inception-style dream machines and really did steal my idea. In fact, maybe we should operate under that assumption after all. It makes me feel wronged, and therefore righteous rather than pathetic and a little bit sad.