Jane Austen fans know that Elizabeth “Lizzy” Bennett is a quick-witted, spirited gal. But did you know her favorite musical acts include Siouxie and the Banshees and The Wu Tang Clan? And that her movie of choice is This is Spinal Tap?
All this and more is on Bennett’s fictional Facebook page, managed by Quirk Books — the independent publisher that struck gold last year with Seth Grahame-Smith’s goofy, genre-bending smash Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The book, which reimagines Jane Austen’s classic novel with the addition of hordes of the undead, was a surprise hit, spending 50 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list and spawning both a prequel (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, by Steven Hockensmith) and an in-the-works movie adaptation produced by Natalie Portman. Now Quirk is harnessing social media sites for an innovative, tongue-in-cheek marketing campaign in anticipation of a sequel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After (also penned by Hockensmith), coming out in March.
“We saw how Jane Austen’s characters fared in the midst of a zombie uprising, and we thought, how would they do in a digital sphere?” says Quirk rep Melissa Monachello, who credits branding company 160over90 with the original idea. “It’s just a different way of telling the story.”
Lizzy Bennett isn’t the only one braving the web. Fans can follow Mr. Darcy on Twitter, flirt with Lydia Bennett on OkCupid, and read Mrs. Bennett’s official blog. There’s a master plan at work here, too; Monachello says a narrative will unfold on the characters’ sites in the lead-up to the sequel.
As irreverent as the idea may be, Monachello thinks Austen would approve. “People always say she had a sense of humor,” she says. “I can’t see how she wouldn’t be into seeing this story unfold online.”
Get in on the fun by checking out Quirk’s hub for all P&P&Z related pages — then let us know what you think in the comments below.