When it comes to vampires, reflection just isn’t something they do.

The same is true of Hollywood, which is why it’s unusual — and kind of reassuring — anytime someone accepts the criticism and vows to do better when a movie fails to connect.

Seth Grahame-Smith, the author of the books Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Unholy Night, started the summer with two promising projects, having written the screenplays for Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows and the historical fantasy mash-up Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which was directed by Timur Bekmambetov and based on his own novel.

Then both films ended up underperforming. “On one hand I got to make two movies with some extraordinary visionary filmmakers,” Grahame-Smith says in a surprisingly frank interview with the Los Angeles Times‘ Gina McIntyre. “On the other, the movies didn’t work. So while it’s great to be on the scoreboard, you also have to own the fact that you’re now 0-2.”

So how does he plan to pull things together for his real-life second act?

The writer/producer is still pushing forward on plans for a sequel to Burton’s Beetlejuice, and he’s also developing an adaptation of Stephen King’s epic childhood scarefest It, along with David Katzenberg, his partner in KatzSmith Productions.

He’s also continuing work on a screenplay for Unholy Night, a twisted action-adventure in which the fabled three kings serve as sword-swinging defenders of the infant Jesus, and has plans to begin a new novel that will take him away from the mash-up genre he helped pioneer.

“I believe that I now have to earn back some of that cred with the audience because I think that people are going to look at me a little skeptically,” Grahame-Smith said. “And that’s fine, they should. I want to be judged harshly because that forces me to really sit down and focus.”

Check out the full interview for more details on how a screenwriter picks himself up and dusts himself off after a rough summer.

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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
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  • 105 minutes