One of the best books you'll read this year is the just-released "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," by Seth Grahame-Smith. No, really. It's a clever re-telling of the 16th president's life, only tweaked to include a vast, vampire-led conspiracy in the early life of the United States, through the slavery years and into the Civil War.
We reported a couple weeks ago that Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov optioned the book for a film adaptation, and will serve as producers. Although Grahame-Smith is now preparing a draft of the script for the planned movie, he was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to chat with MTV last week about how the book came together and how it will be executed for film audiences.
"I spent a couple months really pouring into the real history of Lincoln because I wanted as much actual, factual history in this book as I possibly could get in there," he said of his early writing process for the new novel. "There's a lot of real Lincoln history in the book. His letters to people, his speeches, names, dates, places... as much as I could cram in. That was my goal."
Unlike Grahame-Smith's previous book, "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" (also optioned for an upcoming film), "Vampire Hunter" is primarily a work of fiction layered on top of fact. An example he gives is Edgar Allen Poe, who factors into the book as one of the people Lincoln encounters.
"Poe and Lincoln [never met] in real life," the author explained. "But Lincoln was actually a big fan of Gothic literature and a big fan of Poe. At one point in his life, he could quote the entire 'Raven' from memory. So that was kind of the inspiration behind adding Poe as a character. Lincoln was in Washington, D.C. and Poe was in Baltimore. It's not that much of a stretch to me that they might have partnered up or at least met each other."
For the movie, Grahame-Smith is mainly focused on writing right now. He's not thinking about who could play what or anything like that, primarily because the freshly released book is still on his mind.
"It's hard for to picture anybody playing the role [of Lincoln]," he explained. "I know eventually we're going to have to cast somebody and I'm sure it's going to be amazing, but in terms of specific actors it's hard for me because when I was writing the book and when I'm writing the movie now, I can only picture the actual Lincoln doing all these things."
"It's still early," he cautioned. "Right now I'm just worried about getting the script as polished as I can." The only thing Grahame-Smith is really sure of for now is that this won't be his directorial debut.
"There's no official director on yet," he revealed. "I think that this would not be a good first feature for somebody to come in and direct because it's going to be a big movie, sort of an effects-heavy period movie. It's definitely a little intimidating for a first-time director. I'm not ruling out doing stuff in the future but I want to give 'Lincoln' the best chance it has to be really polished and slick. I think putting it in a more experienced director's hands is probably the way to go."