By Keith Staskiewicz
Updated May 14, 2010 at 04:35 PM EDT

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the bookstore…here come more literary monster mashups! You can drive a stake into its heart, shoot it full of silver bullets and bury it under six feet of dirt, but this publishing trend Just. Won’t. Die. Now it’s Little Women, Louisa May Alcott’s classic tale, that’s getting monsterized. And not just once, but twice. Available now, Little Women and Werewolves by Porter Grand and Little Vampire Women by Lynn Messina take the well-known tale of Jo, Beth, Meg and Amy and add in a healthy serving of the unknown. Last week, Grand and Messina held a discussion with Alcott scholar and Pulitzer Prize-winner John Matteson about the book, the supernatural and mash-ups in general.

Both authors said they were impressed with how much the original text stood up to their fiddling. “When writing it, the biggest thing was realizing how strong the book was on its own,” said Messina. “I thought that adding vampires to it was going to change everything, but I was amazed at how little it actually changed.”

Grand spoke at length about Alcott’s own supernatural and blood-and-guts proclivities. Writing under the nom de plume A.M. Barnard, the otherwise demure author published a number of adventurous and murder-filled novels and stories, although these weren’t discovered until years after her death. “My goal when I was writing Little Women and Werewolves was to stay true to Alcott,” Grand said. “I really wanted to write it the way I think she would have written it if she had decided to insert werewolves into it.” While she admits that some rabid fans may take umbrage at their work (Matteson recounted a story of his own in which a certain Little Crazywoman sent him an 11-page letter calling him a heretic and threatening to burn him at the stake), Grand thinks Alcott herself would be “flattered, amused and delighted” at these tweakings of her most famous tome.

Messina admitted that she knows the mash-up craze won’t last forever, but she’s happy to get while the getting’s good. “It’s going to run its course,” she said. “I thought it was going to eventually tap out with Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter, but I Googled it and it was already a movie!”