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Q: Do you mind books with similar ideas to other books? Similar concepts, backgrounds, retellings or pulled-to-publish fanfic?
Yes and No.
Similar concepts and backgrounds only bother me if they aren’t different or original enough, if I feel like the author was trying to use one source of inspiration too much. I think there will always be books with similarities to other stories just out of coincidence –it is how the idea is developed that makes a difference. People are inspired by the world around them and may not have any idea that something has been done first. I could take a handful of similar books with similar descriptions and line them up. Once opened, however, these books could branch off in tons of different directions and be truly different. I loved Matched by Ally Condie and I did notice similarities to The Giver by Lois Lowry, but not enough to make me feel like the author ripped it off. She took a similar setting and did her own thing with it and made it hers in a wonderful way.
Retellings don’t bother me as long as the source material is older and well known, like fairy tales or classics. It’s taking an idea I feel like we’ve all grown up with and thinking, “what if?” I suppose these older stories are ones that we don’t question much. They just are. And by questioning them and doing something different with the setting or changing up the characters is interesting to me. While I didn’t like Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, the idea made me laugh out loud and the author really was able to weave a zombie side plot into the original text. Retellings of this nature remind me of our ability to question the world around us, since fairy tales and classics can have this air around them that they are perfect and should only be interpreted instead of questioned.
Retellings of new stories and fanfiction bother me quite a bit, though. I suppose I feel like the source material is too new. Because the source material is so new, I feel like changing the way the characters are or making things happen that didn’t happen in the original text is wrong. It’s not so bad if it’s for yourself and your work never gets published and you never attempt to go down that avenue, but the idea of someone piggy backing off an author just makes me cringe. I guess I see a difference between taking a book that’s been around centuries and wondering “what if?” and taking a book that’s been around for 5 years and thinking it didn’t turn out how you would have wanted and it’s better if this, this, and this are changed.
Apparently I’m unable to answer questions anymore without being extremely long winded. LOL.