Fan-Fiction Without Knowing It?

I’ve known for a long time what fan-fic is and what it’s not. I know what channeling is too. And we know what plagiarism is all about. Fan-fiction is an honored tradition of carrying on a single book, series or saga with well-known and loved characters in a similar setting to the original. 50 Shades of Grey actually started out as Twilight fan-fiction, and then developed a life of its own. Channeling happens when you’ve written something very similar to a book or story that has already been published. Channeling can happen unconsciously, an innocent retelling of a story that is dear to the author, with many of its aspects reappearing in the second version. Some say there is deliberate type of channeling, kind of a preemptive mini-theft of material. But that’s splitting hairs. Plagiarism is just outright theft of material.

But what if you have written a story that bears a remarkable resemblance to something already out there? When I say remarkable, I mean surreal or uncanny. A likeness that can make you uncomfortable. Because how in the Chuck Dickens could you ever explain yourself? My Planet Janitor was compared to Firefly, and I had no problem taking that it stride. I knew nothing about Firefly and it’s characters until I later investigated.

Now it seems I have another, more intricate doppelganger. On three different occasions over the past years my characters in Screamcatcher, Jory Pike and Choice Daniels have been called all but dead ringers for Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark. For the sake of chronology, my book was written in later days of October in 2011,  It was just recently published on 4-23-2019. It took so long to see print because my agent suggested I make a trilogy out of it. It bombed out at the Big 5, but was offered contracts by 10 small presses within a 12 month period. We took Melange Books because they were so lenient and adaptable to our contract conditions.

The first Hunger Games book was published in 2008, then another in 2009 and the last one in 2010

The third time I was told about my book’s similarities to the characters in The Hunger Games was early 2018. I didn’t know who Suzanne Collins was, but I had heard of the enormous success of her trilogy. I’d only heard she was a TV exec or something, and that her series was pulling second rank just under Harry Potter, or had been doing so for a long time. I decided to investigate. Curiosity drove me to it, even though I was so dang busy with my own books and editing at that time.

I read the books first, then watched the movie series on a free channel. 

It smacked me right between the eyes. The last thing I wanted was to be compared to The Hunger Games. I had an oh joy! moment. Then I had a feeling of utter dread. Not only was Katniss unbelievably close, but I’d written Peeta, and his association wtth Katness, too. 

Jory’s similarities to Katniss.

Both are young teenagers, separated by a few years.
Both have Olive skin.(Jory is of Native America lineage)
Both have straight black hair (sometimes braided)
Both are graceful and surefooted.
Both are attractive 
Both are expert archers, with lightning fast reflexes
Both are unassuming and avoid the spotlight.
Both are independent, solitary but reluctant leaders.
Both have top-notch survival skills, knowledge of plants and animals
Both are avid hunters
Jory has a long bow, whereas Katniss has a high-tech composite compound bow.
Both have great intuitive senses.
Jory does have brown eyes, opposed to grey eyes and she is tall and lanky unlike the smaller Katniss

Choice and Peeta

Average height
Stocky, a bit muscular.
Same length hair, different color
Nearly same age
Loyal
Courageous 
Athletic

Attraction:

Choice’s attraction to Jory is intense but very subdued. He has a hard time not showing his attraction to her, and when he does he is rather embarrassed, sometimes internally infuriated.Jory is indifferent to him, not really in-like or in love. She’s not above using him to achieve gains. Her eventual commitment and love for him is a very slow romantic burn that culminates in their bond at the end of series story-line

My web world strings are called sectors, whereas in THG the state or territory divisions are called districts. Each sector has a deathly challenge–a true life or death trial before they can continue to the next sector. Likewise in THG they must advance to the next task or challenge. 

I could go on and on, because it just doesn’t stop. However, there are vast differences that keep these two stories from clashing into each other. I’m floored by how well THG was crafted, both in print and in video. It was truly one of the best books and movies I have every seen. I could never measure up to such standards as Suzanne’s craftsmanship. I can only say we were thinking about the same FMC and saw a place for her in her own tome. Katnes HAS to be fondly loved by Suzanne. I’m proud to have brought Jory to life. 

Has this ever happened to you, dear writer? Deja vu anyone? Could you swear that somebody else has ripped off your plot or characters? Or have you ever felt despair and felt like slashing your wrists because somebody beat you to the punch? Stephen King had a “Oh, damn it to hell!” moment when he heard the Simpsons had done a domed city story. Yet he raced on with his own story and it was well received. 

Am I going to compare my book to THG? Nope. The reviewers can do whatever they want. Besides, I like my premise BETTER. Bwahahahahahaha!

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