In which I nip things in the bud

I’ve been feel­ing on top of the world lately. I’m writ­ing full-time, I’m mov­ing to a beau­ti­ful local island with a Mediter­ranean cli­mate (yeah, it exists in Canada!), my part­ner is leav­ing his thank­less job and tak­ing over a busi­ness. My books are sell­ing well, The Dex-Files con­tin­ues to win over read­ers (well, sort of…so many still on the Dex fence!). My agent is going to start pimp­ing EIT to pub­lish­ers come the fall. Things are good. I’m happy.

I’m just keep­ing my head down, deal­ing with the cover for Into the Hol­low, plus cool posters and graph­ics for The Devil’s Metal. I’m writ­ing it every day and think it’s really com­ing along. I love Dawn. I love the 1970’s. I love the music and the creepy aspect and I love Sage. I have my doubts, of course, as every writer does. Am I good enough? Will peo­ple want to read this? Why do I have to write things that aren’t straight-up com­mer­cial fare? Is this going to suck? You know, nor­mal doubts.

Then I get kicked in the fuck­ing gut.

A book comes out a month before mine is set to. It deals with pretty much the exact same thing as The Devil’s Metal. And it’s already #66 on Ama­zon kindle.

You guessed it, I’m talk­ing about The Mighty Storm by Saman­tha Towle.

So, with a bleed­ing heart, I look at the reviews to see how sim­i­lar the books sound and the results shat­ter me. Like, make me feel like jump­ing off a bridge. How fuck­ing rot­ten is my tim­ing. How am I com­pete with this book? Why would peo­ple want to read mine when they can read one that is highly-acclaimed? And seems to be almost the same! And how on earth am I going to stop read­ers from com­par­ing the two when I’m doing it myself?

Now, I know there are dif­fer­ences between the books. But the sim­i­lar­i­ties are there. Both are about a young female music jour­nal­ist who goes on the road with her favorite band and falls in love with the hot, tat­tooed bad-boy rock­star. There are shenani­gans with bad behav­ior and groupies. There’s angst. There’s sex. There’s music. Etc.

As I noted, there are dif­fer­ences. Mine is hor­ror. It’s set in 1974. I was/am a music jour­nal­ist and many of my own sto­ries have found their way into the book. In Storm, the two lovers were child­hood friends and sweet­hearts and are reunited. There’s another man in the mix. In Metal, Dawn is a fish out of water and Sage is one of her idols. There’s no other man. Mine’s not erot­ica, it’s horror/romance (I’d say para­nor­mal romance but that has strange con­no­ta­tions with it).

For all I know they are totally dif­fer­ent books. As a friend pointed out, you can’t com­pare Cujo and Old Yeller because they both have dogs with rabies. And I know that. I hear Towle did a fab­u­lous job with The Mighty Storm, mak­ing it the next Beau­ti­ful Dis­as­ter and I do intend to read it.…one day, when mine is all done so that I don’t get wrongly influenced.

But the prob­lem I am hav­ing — the one that makes me afraid to pub­lish this book — is the accu­sa­tions that I might get, the ones that say I’m jump­ing on this book’s band­wagon and that I’m copy­ing it.

Not true. Coin­ci­dence is a funny thing but I can say with utmost hon­esty that The Devil’s Metal came from my lit­tle whacked head.

For one, I am a music jour­nal­ist and I, one day, sick of deal­ing with real-life groupies of another band, thought wouldn’t it be great to write a period piece that dealt with this stuff, but had a demonic, scary spin on it. I wanted to put my expe­ri­ences down but make it fun, sexy and enter­tain­ing. The Devil’s Metal came to me in sum­mer of 2009. I even tweeted about it and called it The Devil’s Death Metal, before a friend sug­gested that The Devil’s Metal would be better.

I wrote the book into the fourth Exper­i­ment in Ter­ror novel, Lying Sea­son. It’s a hol­lowed out book in Dex’s office that Perry finds.

I started talk­ing pub­licly about the book at the start of the sum­mer of 2012 and even talked about it in an inter­view here:

I’m just about to start a book called The Devil’s Metal, which I am hop­ing for a Sep­tem­ber release date. It’s a 2–3-book series, adult para­nor­mal romance. A lot of it is based or inspired by my work in the music indus­try. It’s set in the 1970’s and it’s: Almost Famous but with demons instead of groupies. I’m super freak­ing excited to start it.”

And August 2nd, I wrote the blurb for it here:

I know this all seems like a bit much, but I feel it’s best to nip this in the bud before read­ers, or god for­bid, the author accuse me of pla­gia­rism. Not that I think the author would because she seems like an awe­some and tal­ented lady who is soar­ing into best-sellers list, but speak­ing from expe­ri­ence, I know what it feels like when you see books that come out after yours that read a lit­tle too much the same (don’t get me started on a para­nor­mal YA book I saw about a light­house on the Ore­gon coast and a mys­te­ri­ous guy called Declan or “Dex” because that one did my head in). I’d hate for any author to feel that way.

So there you have it. This is my dilemma. I’ve spent most of my day grap­pling with whether I should still release the book or not. I still don’t know. I know if I do, I’m going to get some back­lash, even with this blog post. I know peo­ple will com­pare my wee lit­tle horror/70’s piece to a book that’s not only sell­ing well but get­ting 5-star reviews across the board. My book will be com­pared and it will not mea­sure up. It’s not what peo­ple want — it’s not straight-up romance and it’s not a tear­jerker. I have my work cut out for me and there’s a chance this book will flop…all because of bad, rot­ten timing.

Of course, it could flop because it flat out sucks but that’s some­thing I was wor­ried about anyway.

Sigh. I don’t know what to do. I might not pub­lish. I might post­pone it. Or I still might release it on Sep­tem­ber 21st and hope for the best. Plug my nose and take the leap.

I will keep writ­ing it though, because it’s a story I always wanted to tell. I just hope my muse is gen­tle with me and that every­thing hap­pens for a reason.

I’ll keep you posted.