Did you ever have to create a Venn diagram in school? If you haven’t, this is all you need to know–you have two (or more) overlapping circles. In the area that overlaps, you write all the properties that are similar about both items you’re comparing. On the areas of the circles that don’t overlap, you write the differences. This post is about my own Venn diagram of sorts…
The creative process is a funny thing…for me, at any rate. I get to know my characters really well. They become my friends, my enemies. I live with them in my head for a long time. I laugh at them, cry with them, get angry with them, mourn for them. They are as real as can be, even if it is just in my head.
Let’s talk about my next book, Savage, which comes out 3/31/15. I had the first inkling of an idea for this book back in December 2013 (I wrote about it in this blog post), but I didn’t really start giving it some deep thoughts until later in the summer of 2014. I had to put off writing it (over and over and over) because of other projects, but I wrote the blurb and prologue in September and a teaser scene in October. I began writing it in earnest in January.
Soooo…let’s just say that the characters Nina and Kevin have been “living with me” for some time. Now, I’ve had to change character names late in the game for various reasons (some of you who followed me in late 2012 know that the character Zane in Bullet started out with the name “Jed”). But I was able to change the name pre-publication…and even before I was done writing the book.
Well, here’s the news. Most of you know that I’ve sent out copies of Savage to both beta readers and reviewers. I had to do them at the same time because I spent a lot of time on the book, perfecting it as much as possible before sending it out. It’s a huge book (and “real life” has taken its toll of late), so it took me longer than usual. One of my beta readers was able to begin reading the book today (after ARC copies were sent out) and she messaged me after starting. I got the message later today and my heart sunk deep in my chest. Why? There’s a zombie book series out there (and apparently book three of this series is being released very soon) and guess what the main character’s name is? Yep, you guessed it. Her name is Nina. If it wasn’t a zombie book, I wouldn’t even worry. Names are used and reused all the time. There’s no getting around it. Hell, it’s real life. But what a coincidence.
Would it be easy to fix? Yes, on paper, absolutely. I write in Microsoft Word. Find and Replace is a nifty little tool and easy to use. What would be harder for me would be the adjustment in my mind…but even that is doable. What can’t be changed is all those ARCs that have already been sent. Even if I could say, “Oopsie. Can you please read this one instead?” how would you feel if you had started reading one story with a character named one thing, only to have it switch in the middle of your reading? Or if you finished reading it and wrote the review and had to change the names? My blurb’s been sitting on Goodreads for months and I and my Street Team have been pimping the hell out of this character named Nina.
I discussed what to do with one of my other beta readers and my Street Team admins…and we all came to the same conclusion. It really sucks, but it’s already done, and it’s too late to change. No one else who has seen the blurb or the teasers, until now, has said anything, so the hope is that they’re such different genres that most readers won’t confuse the two books or wonder what the hell I’ve done To repeat: that’s the hope. 🙂
So…with all due respect to the other author, I am keeping my character name. That said, if she or any of her readers find this post, I want to right now say that I apologize. Had I known earlier, I would have changed it, even though I love the name and it “feels” right. For those of you who are curious, the series in question is Odium The Dead Saga by Claire C Riley—my beta reader said it’s not my genre (it’s more straightforward horror). I have not read it (but maybe I should–maybe it’s fate!). I just want to clear the air before the release of my book so that folks understand it was not meant to capitalize on her success. It’s just too late for me to change it, and that really bums me out. I’ve had similar things happen to me as the author on the other side…and I’ve learned that sometimes it is inevitable.
At least she and I both have good taste in choosing women’s names. 🙂
I get the feeling that the only similarities between our books are zombies…and the name of the main characters. From that point, all bets are off. To my readers, I hope you love the book. One of my other beta readers said she thinks this is way beyond anything else I’ve ever written. Wonder what she means? Guess you’ll have to read it yourself to find out.
UPDATE, 3/24/15: Some of Claire’s readers contacted her and let her know about this here post…and she blew me away with her gracious attitude. She was incredibly cool–beyond cool–and I can’t tell you how much better that makes me feel. I wish her loads of success with her continuing saga…and guess what’s next on my TBR? 🙂