Sunday, January 22, 2012

You got that from...

When I attended GMXv3 last October something horrible happened. No, the convention was not horrible - it was amazing. Something that happened there was horrible: when I was in the dealer's room I saw a t-shirt with the slogan "Winter is coming" emblazoned across the front. I was both excited & confused, then quite worried, because it's a big theme/tagline in my War of Seasons novels. I knew my books weren't anywhere close enough to warrant seeing random shirts popping up at vendor's booths yet, so I had a very sinking feeling that this same line was big in another series... Well, come to find out, it's a huge theme/tag line in the George R.R. Martin, Game of Throne books. In fact, I've been seeing t-shirts all over the place with it now. I've never read the Game of Throne series (or watched the show, which came well after I'd written my first WotS novel), so I obviously didn't copy the line. In fact, I thought I was being a bit clever when I wrote it, "Winter is coming," and that it was a good foreboding line in my books (key to the overall plot of the 3 books). Unfortunately for me, several years ago George R. R. Martin thought the same thing (granted Winter is both a different type of "thing" in our books and poses a different "threat"). So my question was this: Do I remove the line from my forthcoming books (it's already in The Human, released June 2011) and instead use something that sounds not nearly as good (like "winter approaches")? Or do I leave it in, and if people want to think I copied Game of Thrones they can? I've found that people already tell me after reading my books "Oh, you got that part from Lord of the rings" or "You got that part from Harry Potter," which if it seems that way, I can say it was never done purposely. I scour my books for "lifts" or anything that sounds too much like something else (i.e., I really wanted a faerie character of mine to sparkle, but due to a certain popular series with another sparkly main characte [...]

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1 comment:

  1. I don't know anything about Game of Thrones either, so I wouldn't have caught it. Seems like if Winter is different if both your books, then it's fine to use. You can't copyright a song title, so I'm not sure you could copyright a phrase like "winter is coming".

    As far as getting stuff from Harry Potter/LotR/etc - there are only so many original ideas out there - it's what you do with them.

    Using a season based mythology isn't new - but your take on them is what is original.