'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' Author Sued Over "Appropriated" Novel

Hatchette Book Group claims Seth Grahame-Smith's submitted novel is nothing more than an appropriation of a 120-year-old public-domain story.
Courtesy of Grand Central Publishing

The man behind Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is facing a lawsuit that can be summed up by a common four-word phrase: too little, too late.

Hachette Book Group is suing New York Times best-selling author Seth Grahame-Smith, and his company Baby Gorilla Inc., for breach of contract. The publisher claims he turned in a subpar project three years after it was contractually due, according to a complaint filed Friday in New York federal court. 

Grahame-Smith was paid $1 million as a combined advance for two books due to Hachette, and now the publisher wants half of that back.  

Hachette claims their 2010 deal specified that the first book would be "a sequel to or spinoff of" Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and the second would be on a topic to be determined by the author subject to Hachette's written approval. The deal also gave the publisher termination rights if any manuscript was delivered more than 60 days after it was due.

In 2015, Hachette published Grahame-Smith's The Last American Vampire, but the second promised novel proved to be problematic, according to the complaint. 

"At the request of BGI and Smith, Hachette twice extended the delivery date for Book #2 from the original contractual date of June 3, 2013 ... totaling in all an extension of 34 months," writes Hachette's attorney Alexander Gigante.

After that, Hatchette claims, it terminated the agreement — starting the clock on a 60-day grace period in which Grahame-Smith could deliver the manuscript.

That manuscript, however, wasn't what Hatchette says it was promised. The publisher claims it was "in large part an appropriation of a 120-year-old public-domain work," materially varies from the agreed-upon word limit and is on a subject Hatchette never approved in writing.

Grahame-Smith has not yet commented on the lawsuit. 

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