Publishers are always looking to squeeze some extra juice out of a successful book by cranking out a spin-off. Wherefore did Four: A Divergent Story Collection appear in our lives, if not for the nerve-wracked publishing executive sitting in their office screaming, “We are running out of Theo James!” Pretty much the second we got to the end of Deathly Hallows, we were all rattling our chairs and demanding a full literary history of Sirius Black. I mean, I get it.
So which characters would we love to see become the star of their own spin-off? OH, JUST A FEW.
Here’s how I’d pitch it to publishers…
The Romantic Endeavors of Mr Collins, Pride and Prejudice
The man of the silver tongue didn’t just appear in a puff of sparkly smoke at the door of the Bennet house to douse Lizzie in a spray of superlative compliments. No, he had lived a whole life before his ungrateful cousin senselessly turned him down. Who was the lady who had the honor of being the first to experience the incredible courtship manners of Mr. Collins? What insights into his self-flattery might we find in the remnants of his days as a swinging single and aspiring clergyman? Just how did he develop such a level of self-assurance about his flirting skills in the face of such miserable failure? How many women were there before he sat down to that incredibly awkward dinner with the Bennet family? WE NEED TO KNOW.
The Re-education of Rubeus, Harry Potter
After the whole Battle of Hogwarts thing, sooner or later, everything had to just go back to normal. There was a lot of clean up, a flood of new students, some brand new gargoyles to replace the ones turned into soot in the wizarding war—it was about time for some calm book-learning, free of Voldemort-related drama. Do you know what else has been long time coming? WE ARE SORRY ABOUT KICKING YOU OUT OF SCHOOL FOR THE WRONG REASONS, HAGRID. OUR BAD. Imagine when, one sunny day in July, Rubeus Hagrid gets his very own special letter, informing him that he has been allowed to repeat his education at Hogwarts. What awaits him? The joy of exchanging his pink umbrella for a nice sturdy wand of oak and dragon’s heartstring, of getting on the boats to Hogwarts not as a supervisor, but as a student once again. Imagine Hagrid eagerly waiting for class and shushing talking students. Imagine him bringing a precariously wrapped box of home-made fudge for Neville on his first day as a Herbology teacher. Walking down Diagon Alley with Harry, getting all he needs for his new school year. JUST IMAGINE.
Buttercup: A Memoir, The Hunger Games
Let’s face it. At least once in your life you had the wild, crazy thought: What would it be like if my pet wrote a super-secret book in which they spill all the gruesome and frankly unflattering details of my life? Well imagine such a book about the life of the Everdeens, from the point of view of resident evil cat, Buttercup.
Prim loved him, Katniss hated him, but he had unique insight into moments in their lives, even at the most intimate and personal moments. How cool would it be to read his point of view? Or maybe not, maybe it would be all “Hate Katniss. Hairball. Did I turn the stove off?”
Detective Chronicles: The Owl Eyes that See All, The Great Gatsby
Hey, remember that guy with googly eyes in The Great Gatsby who sat all drunk in Gatsby’s library, all fixated on the books around him? You probably didn’t until now. Well, being easily forgotten is one of many things that would come in handy while becoming the greatest investigator the world has ever known. He was the only guy who thought to check whether Gatsby’s books were real, later coming to a singular conclusion that though they were real, they were never read(!, but also none of us are so surprised).
We catch such brief but intense glimpse of him (is he a stand-in for the author? How bizarre!), it really makes me wonder what his usual Monday to Friday entails. Who’s to say he’s not gallivanting across New York solving curious cases of buttons and cut-glass bowls? Someone get him on the case of what on earth does Daisy see in Tom?
Luna Lovegood DIY, Harry Potter
I bet those dirigible plum earrings weren’t the only super cool thing Luna made. Secret remedies for nargles? Luna’s got you covered. Your crush finally asked you out and you have nothing to wear? Take a pick out of Luna’s quirky wardrobe and she’ll tell you how to make it! Need some impromptu spectrespecs to zero in on those wrackspurts that have been making you fuzzy? Just hold right there, Luna will tell you exactly what to do. For DIY fans of Lauren Conrad and Martha Stewart alike.
Me and the Bossy White Guy Who Won’t Let Me Eat Men, Robinson Crusoe
Do you remember Robinson Crusoe? The original castaway? We certainly get his point of view of things (a point of view that insists on telling us about how he built a fence for 15 pages), but what about the poor old Friday’s perspective on things? All we get from him is what Crusoe puts in his mouth, forcing him to call him “master” and insisting on teaching him the Christian ways, even though Crusoe was the one out of his jurisdiction.
Racism and colonialism of the period aside, how did Friday really feel about Crusoe? Here’s this man, who just tells him to throw away everything he grew up believing and knowing, a man with a funny god and a funny language and behold, what is he wearing? Actual trousers?! Something tells me things between them might not have ran as smoothly as Crusoe would have us believe in his journal entries.
A Helpful Guide to Having a Crazy Best Friend, Hamlet
A lot has been said in terms of Horatio’s honest character in Hamlet, but guys, it takes some serious skill to put up with a guy as unhealthily obsessed as Hamlet. He hates his uncle, hates his mother, has some weird fanatic love for his dead father and sees conspiracy everywhere. Sometimes we have a crazy day. Sometimes it’s our best friend. And while we love them to bits, what do we do when they’re being just right down unreasonable and perhaps a little dramatic? Preach to us Horatio, we are here for your counsel.
I’m an Evil Mastermind, Not Your Housekeeper, Sherlock Holmes
Sweet Mrs Hudson, an unassuming character in the modern BBC Sherlock, but even more so in the classic novels. In the original adventures of the super-suave detective and his moustached BFF, Mrs Hudson makes few appearances and remains very much a background character (kind of like tapestry or a bucket of firewood), which is actually PERFECT. What’s the best way to avoid detection? Of course, hide in plain sight. The kind of intel Mrs Hudson would be able to gather as Sherlock’s landlady would make her a superb head of a criminal network and while sneakily learning all of her lodger’s tricks, she would know exactly how to elude him. I know I just came up with the idea, but the book is already going on my Goodreads list.
Who Are You? Tori Wu, Divergent
We know that in the world of Divergent, Toni is a badass Dauntless tattooist who likes to live a bit on the edge while staying far away from it. I mean not everyone would help Tris keep her divergence a secret, but the edge was what her brother got topped, so we get why she might feel ambivalent about heights and holes and things. And that’s about as much as we get. WE NEED MORE. Was she always Dauntless? What was her brother like? Did her family know about his divergence? Why become a tattooist of all things? The crumbs of information that we get about her in the series just simply isn’t enough and given that she becomes pretty important, it’s kind of scandalous. Another book!
The Secret Lives of a Guy Called George (Bonus crossover!)
The parallels are undeniable. A guy who is probably, like, centuries old. Long beard, pointy hat, pretty awesome with magic and likes to disappear for a while with no one knowing where he is. Did you think Gandalf or Dumbledore? Well, imagine BOTH.
What if Gandalf and Dumbledore are secretly the same guy called George or something? While Gandalf apparently dies at the hands of Balrog of Morgoth in The Fellowship of the Ring, I get that it might take a guy a while to come back from the dead, but that long? Something’s fishy. I bet he was really in Hogwarts, calmly asking Harry whether he threw his name into the Goblet of Fire. And in The Half-Blood Prince, who’s to say that he was really off looking for horcruxes the entire time? He could have totally popped out for a minute or two to return as Gandalf the White, save the Middle-Earth and get back just in time for pumpkin juice and cookies at Hogwarts.