Tips on Tuesday: Something Old Yet New: Mashups

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

On 4/17/14, Brian A. Klems, Online Editor for Writer’s Digest, hosted a guest post by Paul Cicchini — a nationally-certified school psychologist, humorist, sports journalist, coach, and specialist in character education. Cicchini was inspired to write while convalescing from being “Godsmacked,” as he said, with kidney stones in the summer of 2009.

Prescription painkillers and exposure to “too many badly-coiffed televangelists on daytime cable TV” fueled his imagination and sense of humor yielding a work of farcical fiction — a humorous vehicle to spread his message of integrity, responsibility, and hope: Godsmacked, described by reviewers as the world’s first Christian mashup novel.

And this is what got my attention: mashups seem to be “one of the hip, ‘in vogue’ things these days, although in actuality the idea is not new at all.”

I was intrigued because I’ve been describing the fairy tale I’m working on as a “mashup” of two different, old-time fairy tales (plus a little splash of Greek mythology and various fairy tale memes). All of my mashup is drawn from one basic genre: ancient fairy tales, but the term indicates a more specific range than I’m using.

Cicchini explained “a ‘mashup’ is when you take two or more established styles of anything and mix them together to make something completely new and unique.” He claims mashups popularity really gained attention in the “American cultural scene a few years ago with the television show Glee [where] it may mix a ‘70’s era rock song with, say, a ‘90’s pop song to come up with a surprisingly fresh sound.

Yet he points out creative artists of all kinds have been doing mashups some time. “Ever hear of fusion cuisine? Fusion Jazz? Yep, they’re mashups. Heck, even my son has been a mashup artist since the age of 8; especially when he’s at the local convenience store soft drink fountain: two splashes of Mountain Dew, three of Orange Fanta, a dash of blue whatever¼voilà, nasty mashup Slurpee.” And what kid wouldn’t beg to do that?

So, in writing, he claims the concept is still fairly new. I rather doubt it. It’s probably just takes on a little different twist than in the past, smooshing two or more different literary genres together and mixing them up “for a fresh, entertaining story.”

Some examples: Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, also made into a movie. Even in non-fiction, two intertwined story lines can be in this ‘genre’. He suggested the Devil in the White City by Erik Larson — a favorite of mine as well. The chapters “alternate between the story of how the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair was built, and the true-life story of a sociopathic killer who used the Fair to prey on victims.” Add to that list Cicchini’s own Godsmacked, a combo of Greek mythology characters, Sci-fi fantasy, pop culture and Christianity. Haven’t read any of those mashups?

Well, get cracking, for a real understanding of what “mashup” can mean. You might even want to try writing one yourself!

See you next for Thinkin’ on Thursday!

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1 Comment

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One response to “Tips on Tuesday: Something Old Yet New: Mashups

  1. Pingback: Thinkin’ on Thursday: Still Thinkin’ About Mashups | The ABC Writers Guild

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