Coincidences

So it never fails.  As soon as I finish a book, I beta for someone and, whoa, some of their details look similar to some of the details in my book.  Now sometimes, this is slightly expected.  “You have a robot book, I have a cyborg book, let’s trade.”  Sometimes it hits me out of left field.  For example, robot and cyborg books both have the robot and cyborg breaking down directly or indirectly out of their love for a girl, both have important scenes on roofs, etc.  Or my book about the spirit of trouble and your book about Egyptian gods both have similar climax scenes.  That kind of stuff.  It never fails.

When I finished Hero/Villain, I expected that.  Especially when I read Perry Moore’s Hero (not a beta read, obviously).  But there were very few similarities beyond superheroes and Leagues between Hero and H/V.

So imagine my surprise when I start listening to Paranormalcy by Kiersten White.  I chose this book in a line of books I previewed starting from Beautiful Creatures (which I just listened to) and going to the next recommended book that looked sort of interesting, and then the next, and then the next.  When I got to Paranormalcy, I pictured the narrator as Veronica Mars doing her fake extra-girly act, and… that’s pretty much what the MC in Paranormalcy sounds like.  The reader even sounds like her vocally.  I decided to listen to this book, even though I was iffy on the book’s description the first time I heard it, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by it so far.

Except for a couple of things.  The MC is named Evie.  The LI is a shapeshifter (and invisible in his natural form for most people).  And the kicker for me, Evie is obsessed with a show called Easton Heights.

Now let’s review Hero/Villain.  One MC is named Evie.  One MC/LI is a shapeshifter and the other MC/LI is invisible.  And Evie and Ace are obsessed with Apollo Easton and Dr. Easton.

Now, I’ve noticed that Evie is a pretty popular name lately in queries.  And since every fantasy creature is in this book, the fact that there’s a shapeshifter isn’t too surprising (although bummer that he’s so important).  But I think that Easton thing is just one coincidence too many.  What were the chances?  I mean, it doesn’t seem to be used as daylight imagery like my Eastons are (Apollo Easton vs. Evie Dark?)

But I think I’ll keep it as it is, and if an agent or editor has a problem with it, I’m totally willing to change Evie’s name.  Well, maybe “totally” is a bit much or I’d be doing it now, but I’m willing.  For now I’ll keep it.  I might change Easton to something else East-y.

But I wonder what the source of these coincidences are.  I can understand how certain trends become trends before people even start talking about “the next trend.”   Several writers read a book, watch a movie, hear about an event, and it inspires us to write something related.  (“Sigh, I want to write about a dreamy fantasy creature love interest too.”  “Down with the Capitol.  I want to write about overthrowing authority too.”)   But what about the ones that seem to come from nowhere?  I know that when I wrote DownLoad (the aforementioned cyborg novel), it started out as a dream, and much of the inspiration came from two animes.  But the writer who wrote the robot book hadn’t watched those animes and certainly hadn’t had that dream.  Why do we both have emotions breaking down our mechanical or semi-mechanical people?  Why are there romantic scenes on the roof?

Why did Kiersten White and I name something “Easton”?  I doubt it came from the same source.  I needed “East” in the name, and there’s a nearby place called Easton.  Maybe there’s an Easton somewhere near her too.  Maybe she knows someone in Easton, MA or Easton, PA.  Maybe she does archery and gets her bows and arrows from Easton Archery or she gets baseball bats from Easton-Bell Sports.  (Yes, Google is fun :))

Well, guess I’ll just chalk it up to one of life’s little coincidences.  Er… three of life’s little coincidences.

Currently on iPod: I Don’t Feel Like Dancing by Scissor Sisters

Lots of love,
Sage

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4 thoughts on “Coincidences

  1. Wow. That’s so weird. I’d be a little freaked out. But besides that, I’m always a little annoyed. Not at the person or at myself, but just at life. I always feel a little disappointed when something someone published has some (major) coincidences with my novel. It makes me feel like I have to be the one to change it even if I might’ve had it in my work longer. Oh well. I guess that’s just how the game works.

    Honestly, I have no idea how these things happen. They happen to me all the time, and I’ve long since stopped trying to figure it all out. Sometimes it’s cool, though. Sometimes it’s more like a “whoa” thing instead of an “aw, man” thing. Depends on the situation, though.

    Anyway, this was an interesting post. As for the East-y thing, what about Easting? Doesn’t have the same ring as Easton, but it’s just an idea.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Easting’s cool. Someone suggested Eastman.

      I originally was like, “I need Easton, so I have to change Evie?” and fortunately someone-not-me had the brilliant idea of keeping “east,” but changing the rest of the name.

  2. Oh gosh, i hate weird coincidences like that.

    Someone at my writer’s group read the opening pages of my WiP, and said it reminded her very strongly of a book by Mary Gentle (aaand now I can’t remember the title – something about bats? hmmm.)

    The catch, I’m not much of a Mary Gentle fan, I think I read one book by her only I never finished it, and it definitely wasn’t the one mentioned. And yet this person insisted that the books had a very similar feel and suggested I read it so I would know what to do differently.

    Except that makes no sense to me . I’m not copying it, since I’ve never read it, and if I did read it with the intent to make my story as different as possible, then I wouldn’t be telling the story I want to tell.

    Anyway, my take on it is that the muses are just firing off multiple copies of the same idea, and so more than one person gets hit with the same concept or name or idea.

    (okay i don’t really believe that. Maybe we are all part of a human hive and we’re collecting stray thoughts from the queen?)

  3. Pingback: A Tale of Two Audiobooks: Paranormalcy « Like Fireflies in the Brain

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