So this morning I gave into temptation and finally dove into Ken Follet’s World Without End.
I was a little more than freaked out to see that many of the elements of that book–including characters’ names!–are either identical to or similar enough to my own work to be indistinguishable. Granted, Follet’s the better writer by far.
A part of me is really enjoying reading the book, because it’s like having someone else having done your homework. He’s telling the story of a young girl in medieval England who wants to be a doctor. I was telling the same story–set in Wales.
For years I had wanted to name my daughter Magdalen Carys. The “Magdalen” part is for many obvious reasons, not the least of which is that I admire that woman who was so openly devoted to Jesus. She stayed at the cross after all the men left. She was the first to hear of the resurrection. I’d like to raise a daughter devoted to Jesus in such a way and so the name was fitting. “Carys” is Welsh Gaelic for “Grace”. I’d originally wanted to use the name “Grace”, but that’s become so commonplace a middle name for girls that I sort of break out in hives when I think about it.
When I made the decision to accept God’s ruling on my childlessness I also made the decision to use the names I had saved for my children (Owen Elijah if he were a boy) in my fiction. Hence a heroine named Carys.
Unfortunately that’s the name that Follett has used. I guess part of me should be disappointed, but really, I’m not. This all goes as evidence to support my belief that ideas live in the DNA of mankind like viruses. Eventually more than one person will come down with the same affliction of story. In a perverse way I’m kind of flattered to see an author I admire execute a work using ideas so similar to my own. Of course I’m also kind of disappointed that his name gets to be on the bestseller list while my book–in its present state–is destined for my mouldering “ideas” folder.
This isn’t the first time this has happened to me. A short story I wrote based on a dream I had about a ghost and the woman he had loved in real life was written and binned a full year before the movie “Ghost”. One of these days I’ll get my stuff out there before someone else. Right now I have to come up with a new idea.