Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Pointing at Harry Potter
I received a few new reviews during this past month, for both Finding Angel and Seeking Unseen, and during those flitting moments I've given thought to some of the common concepts in them. The main one being the fact that several readers looked at the premise of Finding Angel and assumed it would be just another Harry Potter rip-off. But they all agree that my story does stand on its own.
I will admit, I was worried when I was writing it. I did NOT want Finding Angel to feel like Harry Potter in any way. (And it drove me NUTS that I would tell people I was writing YA fantasy and their response always seemed to be, "The next J.K. Rowling, eh?") But the HP books have all the elements I already loved in fantasy, which is why I fell for them so hard. It's not like J.K. Rowling was the first person to think up all those things--she was just the first to put them into a story the exact way she did so and make it into a blockbuster. (And to do so with killer writing skills).
Finding out I had magic or came from some amazing secret place was a common fantasy of mine as a kid. My back yard was an "enchanted forest" and there was a "secret passage" in my closet... I watched all kinds of shows with magic, like Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, and wanted so badly to find out I was like little Tabitha, with my mom just waiting to see if I developed powers. And anyone remember H.R. Pufnstuf? Magic flutes and talking dragons on an enchanted island! Not to mention books like A Wrinkle in Time, or The Phantom Tollbooth.
The point is, while I certainly am not saying "I thought of it first," there is nothing that says "young teen finds out he/she's magic" or "main character discovers secret magical world" are original ideas owned exclusively by J.K. Rowling. It's just a cultural thing, a result of her being the big name in that arena, that makes anything along those lines point to her work.
And while Finding Angel has been assumed to follow suit with the HP novels, it's actually been compared to many others, such as A Wrinkle in Time, Fablehaven, and The Spiderwick Chronicles--all three of which are favorites of mine. The fact is, writers draw from what they read, whether it's intentional or not. The stories that capture our hearts make a home there, and they influence us. We just have to make sure that influence stays at a reasonable level, and find our own voice. Which, judging by reviews, I've managed to do.
(And, just as an update--there is one day left in my month off from writing. And I have one more room to super-clean. Funny how that just worked out, eh? Here's to diving back into writing with a clean house around me!)