Except I’m too weenie.
There are some things I don’t let myself read when I’m writing. J.D. Robb is one; her voice is too strong, and I find myself writing in certain ways that are too close to her style for comfort. Other authors, no problem. Even Nora Roberts. But Robb? Nuh-uh.
And although Shinn’s books are much, much different from what I’m writing, I am afraid of being influenced too much by her…not style, necessarily — but the approach she uses to talk about some of the same things I am. Although my books aren’t about faith, I can’t entirely ignore it, either. I’m playing with Milton, and taking ideas from other parts of Western literature (Dracula and The Vampyre, for example, along with bits and pieces from a billion other places) in my mythology, and Christianity and the Bible are inescapable aspects of Western lit and culture, and each of my Guardians has to decide what that means (okay, I have to decide how each of my Guardians — and non-Guardians — accept (or not) the story of their creation, and how much they question it). Hugh was a knight. I can’t pretend that faith wasn’t a huge part of his life when he was alive…and that it affected how he approached his role as a Guardian.
And although I probably won’t be too explicit about their beliefs, I think it comes through: some of my characters believe in God, some don’t, some believe in gods, and some just don’t know.
It’s not just Shinn, though. I’m avoiding most romances that are popping up that deal with demons and Lucifer — even comedies. Some, I don’t really have to worry about: Emma Holly’s demons, for example, aren’t demons in the same way.
Part of this is so that I don’t beat myself up — over two things: the moment of “damn, I wish I’d written that!” and the moment of “dammit, I wrote that, too!”
The first is damaging, because then I feel like a hack. Worse, even if it’s something that I might have thought of anyway in the course of writing them, I won’t use it. Even if it’s right for the story…and that’s not right. It’s better to write the story the way it should be told, and not worry about whether it’s derivative.
The second is damaging, because then I think: should I go back and change it? For example, I just read The Vampire Who Loved Me, and there’s a line the hero says to the heroine about his reflection and mirrors that kinda-sorta sounds a little like a very, very important line Colin says to Savi. And when I read it, my knee-jerk reaction was: “shit, now some reviewer on Amazon is going to say I lifted that from Medeiros.” But to change it would be wrong. Wrong wrong wrong, and it would make whatever new thing Colin said
a lie not as in character. So I might still get that review on Amazon…and deep down I know, “so what?” and that I didn’t…but still, it’s a moment of ARGH.
Jeez, how nonsensical was that?
Anyway, I find that I’m reading more and more outside of my subgenre to avoid that (not completely, because there are some authors I can’t not read, and not a lot of demons are out there yet, but still, a lot of vampires (and I’m about to add more, woot!)). Which means, yeah, there might end up being overlap and maybe I’ll do something that Sherrilyn Kenyon did and not know it because I’ve never read her, and then find out when someone says “she’s a Kenyon wannabe!” …but I also think that’s unavoidable. I mean, crap, I’m not working in a universe that I created all on my own. It’s the result of reading romance and classic lit and a bunch of other genres and putting it all together into a story. I have been influenced by other work…but it is more of a mish-mash in my head right now.
So, Sharon Shinn, who wouldn’t be a mish-mash at this point…I’m just going to wait a little longer for. Sigh.
But just a little.
And this is just because I’m in a romantic mood.