An original idea?

October 13, 2014 at 4:02 pm

One of the most frustrating things I have experienced as an author is to find another novel that is similar to the one I am writing.

There’s nothing more deflating than realising someone else has beaten you to the punch with your supposedly original idea.

The novel I’m working on the moment is a classic example. I originally wrote How Far Forgive? back in 1998 and I have kept it in mind all this time because I’d never read another book like it.

Then I started to work for Rochelle Manners at Wombat Books/Even Before Publishing and she gave me a copy of Paula Vince’s Picking up the Pieces to read. What do you know? The two stories have a lot in common! Fortunately, there are still some significant differences as well.

I’m more accustomed, these days, to seeing similar books to my own works and recognising that what I am writing can still have a place in spite of those similarities.

The Heir has a lot in common with Twilight and one of my favourite TV shows, Roswell. However, while there are similar themes, I take them in different directions from both of these works. In fact, when writing The Heir I tried to avoid as many similarities as I could.

I think there’s a limit to how original any of us can be. My publisher occasionally reminds me that there are only about seven stories in the world and every story we see or read is a variation on one of them.

I think most authors know this but some of our readers may not. A few months ago a friend of mine contacted me in a panic. She had seen the trailer for the upcoming movie by the Wachowskis called Jupiter Ascending.

‘They’ve stolen your story from The Heir!’ she said. ‘I just thought you needed to know.’

I reassured her that I was sure the Wachowksis were unlikely to have read The Heir and stolen it from me. A quick google search revealed the premise of Jupiter Ascending, and although there were clear similarities, there were plenty of differences as well.

Are you an author? Have you ever discovered a book eerily similar to one you were working on? Are you a reader? Have you ever read a book that had a lot in common with another you had loved? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.


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