In this minisode of So you want to be a writer: Andrew wants to know how Allison approached her world building and which rugby league teams we support! And we discuss a writer’s dilemma about someone who may have stolen her story.
Got a question for Val and Al? Ask at podcast [at] writerscentre [dot] com [dot] au
Review of the Week
I recently started listening to podcasts to help pass the time whilst doing data entry, and I am so glad I stumbled upon this one! I love every aspect of it, especially the Writers in Residence, which I find to be enormously insightful not only in regards to the work of the authors being interviewed, but also in regards to the publishing industry as a whole. Hearing Val and Al talk about their reading and writing endeavours has inspired me to become more committed to my own writing, and this year I undertook NaNoWriMo for the first time. It was such an enjoyable experience, and I want to say thank you to Val and Al for providing us with such engaging material each week. Keep up the good work!
Hi Val and Al, I love your podcast and I notice you answer questions now. This has been bothering me for some time and I thought I'd ask your thoughts. I wrote the draft of a novel in 2010 when I lived in a remote area in a tiny country where people are affected by the issues I chose to focus on. I doubt I ever would have written the story had I not been living in that location seeing first hand some of the issues and getting inspiration and knowledge of landscape and history and problems–and it's rich cultural history of myth and legend that I've used as inspiration while writing my own world myth and backstory. I lived there for almost a decade so it is my other home.
I set my story there and across three other locations globally– it's fantasy based in this world. It's in the future and I created a world that has not been created in fiction before with its own mythology and specific set of problematic circumstances and a unique set of characters.
I haven't discussed it anywhere in print or online and I showed it just to a handful of people connected with writing or the country in 2012 and 2013. In 2014 someone came up to me at a venue where I was giving a talk and we got talking about writing briefly and I learned that they were writing a story and they basically narrated my plot, setting, mythology, world problem and characters to me including some of the specific details and the ideas in my myths and back story and setting and characters that I created. I had no idea then that she knew one of the people who I shared my story with.
I was pretty shocked and I was also busy and had to talk to a lot of people so I couldn't stop to talk to this person who I met then for the first time. I also didn't want to say that's my story and I couldn't remember her name at the time.
I have since found that that person is quite close to one of the people who I shared my story with as a synopsis in 2013, though that person is an acquaintance more than a friend.
Earlier this year I learned through our network that the woman who told me about the story back in 2014 is a freelance writer and is publishing this story–the one mentioned to me.
I feel really hurt by the possibility that someone has for all intents and purposes stolen my idea and world and may be publishing it. I love my story, world, characters. I spent thousands of hours researching scientific issues to get it right for the story universe, not to mention history and travel to places. My life and work experience is embedded in it from particular sectors. What do I do if it is a version of my story that this person has used? What are the avenues in such situations?
If there were no specific things mentioned or it wasn't about a tiny country most people don't go to or I hadn't known of the mutual connection and the possibility my story was read, I'd think it was a coincidence like Liz Gilbert/Ann Patchett story discussed in Big Magic, but it was too similar (and the world is specific) that I believe my story was shared and I don't know what to do. I also really don't know why she told me. Personally I don't care if this person's version is published and it's similar, but I'm worried about if it's the same and/or interchangeable but for names and places–what do I do with all my work and story that I love? What are the ethics and legal issues in such a situation? What if I look like the one who copied, if I ever publish, when in fact It is my original idea– I conceived it quickly after seeing something that shocked me there and it grew from there but almost unchanged from what it is now in essence–and wrote solidly for 2 years in tiny room in a remote area and country where inspo hit. Do I lose rights to my idea if someone uses it first?
I discussed it with published writers who said get my final draft done anyway–keep writing.
Valerie and Allison answer your question in the podcast
I came across your blog in iTunes search a few days ago and I now like to listen to it on my way home from work in sunny Arizona. I have 2 questions.
1. How did Alison approach world building for the Mapmaker Chronicles?
2. Do you guys support any Rugby League teams?
Val and Al answer these questions in this minisode. We hope you find this useful! If you have a question, email us at: podcast [at] writerscentre [dot] com [dot] au
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