Plagiarism vs Inspiration

Now see, this is why we can’t have nice things, people. Sherrilyn Kenyon sues Cassandra Clare. Now in case you do not know one or both of these authors:

Kenyon writes a series called Dark Hunters of which I’m a rabid fan. I call it my “Vampire Sex” series. The sex scenes are hot and steamy and fall maybe just a few steps short of porn. (Come ON! The first book in the series is called “Nightly Pleasures.” Pfff, the main protagonist loses his powers when he *cough* FINISHES.) The stories revolve around Greek/Roman mythologies (bonus points) and have a bunch of “not vampires/totally vampires” that hunt down real vampires (it’s complicated).

Cassandra Clare writes a series about Shadow Hunters of which I’ve only read three books that has grown to be quite popular among the YA community and while there are “steamy” teen moments, it really just sums up to a Jace, the protagonist, taking off his shirt a lot. I don’t think he ever makes it to boob-feels (I dunno… is this what kids call second or third base? I’ve lost track.) The story revolves around Christian mythology (angels and demons) and have a bunch of “half-angel/totally-not angels” chasing down demons (everything from werewolves, vampires, to a bunch of other random things).

Ok, I GET IT. Yes. The stories sound SOOOOO similar. Or… do they? I dunno, half of the romps I got from Kenyon’s books were in the bedroom, where as Clare had flying motorcycles, ship-disasters, and cross-dressing magician parties.

Still, I look at Kenyon’s novels and compare the “similarities” and I almost think Kenyon has something against Rick Riordan, too. Camp halfblood, full of half-deities with lots of references to mythology, and they go out and do battle with crazy monsters. Actually, I almost feel Percy Jackson has more in common with Dark Hunters (sans the sex) than the Shadow Hunter novels do.

Which brings us to the REAL discussion of this post. When is it considered plagiarism and when is it considered inspiration? Cuz I’ll be honest, if this is all it takes for a law suit, I’m kind of afraid of Patricia Wrede and my magic system. But then again the fact that I honor her, does that reduce the impact? Considering how different I’ve made my system compared to the meager thing she had in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles books 2 and 4 I can’t imagine there’s room for complaint. Wrede inspired me. I LOVED her magic system. I borrowed her idea and made my own.

If this is wrong then most authors have some major issues. I don’t think there’s a writer that can say they were not inspired by another’s work. Heck, both Robert Jordan and Terry Brooks say they were heavily inspired by Tolkien.

I think even the authors of the Hunger Games and Divergent could have some words.

I would like to think that the writing community and all authors are respectful enough of one another to realize the difference between inspiration and plagiarism. I even LOVE the recent surge in acceptance of “fan fiction.” The community is growing and ideas are evolving. How many agents have I looked up that have on their wish list “we want more books like ____”.

It alarms me that an author I so respect would do something as crass as this. Kenyon I love you and I think your novels are better. This just stinks of petty resentment. “Dark Hunters” is really NOT that original of a name. Let it go. If her book sales are not as great as Claire’s it’s only because Claire has a much broader audience. I would NOT hand Dark Hunters to a fourteen year old (and feel good about myself) while Shadow Hunters was made for that age group.

Besides, the last time I checked: ideas cannot be copyrighted! Which is one of the few beauties that I feel exist within our legal system.

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2 thoughts on “Plagiarism vs Inspiration

  1. bridgettomago says:

    Great post! I’m new here and I stumbled upon your site. Hope you don’t mind if I follow you.
    I think some authors get a little carried away with plagiarism claims. I’ve read both series you mentioned, and to me, they are very different. When I think of plagiarism, I’m thinking of a near identical storyline with the same characters – only different names. In the fantasy genre, their are so many similar books out there. Some are bound to be similar.

    Like

    • Penna Fischer says:

      I don’t mind at all. I hope I don’t bore you with my insane, if not inane, prattle.

      I agree with your ideas of plagiarism. That’s exactly how I feel. Whether it be fantasy or contemporary, there is no original “story” idea. They’ve all been taken. That’s what TROPES are all about. A writer’s job is to take these tropes and concepts, throw them into our own crockpot, let them simmer for a few hours(/months/years) and see what else new pops out.

      Otherwise, Rowlings (Harry Potter) would have to do some explaining to Jill Murphy (The Worst Witch).

      Liked by 1 person

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