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Writing Wizards in a post-Potter World
Last year my first novel The Tethering was released by Silence in the Library publishing.
All sixteen-year-old Jacob Evans wants is to win the heart of Emilia Gray, but with order in the magical world crumbling, war threatening, and Emilia’s boyfriend living across the hall, he may never have the chance.
Jacob Evans loses everything he has ever known and is tossed into a world of magic. The Dragons, a group of rebel wizards, are threatening to expose the existence of magic to humans. Jacob is determined to find a way to fit into Emilia’s family, but as his powers grow, so does the danger. With the death toll mounting, Jacob is accused of acts of rebel terrorism and must fight to stay in a world he’s only just beginning to discover.
When Emilia’s life is threatened, Jacob must risk everything to save her. Does he have the power to rescue her in time? And what could their survival cost?
As you can see, The Tethering, a Young Adult Fantasy novel, centers around a male protagonist, who is a wizard, and yes, he ends up with a wand. So naturally, the first thing I hear from readers is, “Well, it’s a lot like Harry Potter.” Please insert face-palm moment here.
I mean, sure, I have a male who uses a phallic object to do magic. But that’s really as far as the similarities go. And a boy with a wand was not a new J.K. Rowling discovery. What about Merlin? Shouldn’t we say that all wizard stories are derivative of Merlin, who didn’t even start out as Merlin but evolved from other legends? Jacob Evans also has to be trained to be a wizard. Jacob goes through an apprenticeship. No, not like in the Sorcerer's Apprentice, and the woman who teaches him is not like Dumbledore.
Coming of age stories often incorporate learning from a teacher. And having to go away from home in order for the adventure to begin is a trope so common, Boarding School Stories are practically their own genre.
Then I ran into the “It’s a little unfortunate that the name of the main character has already been associated with a YA franchise.”
So now the name Jacob is off limits in all YA books? I mean, I would understand if I had named my protagonist Harry Potter, but Jacob? The name Jacob was in no way invented by Stephenie Meyer. It’s as old as the bible! I didn’t choose the name for biblical reasons, but I feel pretty confident in saying that the name Jacob had been around for a couple thousand years at least and therefore should not be taken off the literary table because a werewolf named Jacob tried to steal the glittery vampire's girlfriend.
Other fun "they’ll call you derivative" discoveries that I have encountered while discussing the works of others include:
- If you have a doctor in your series, always call them by their full name (i.e. Doctor Smith). Never "The Doctor," or people will start humming the Doctor Who theme immediately.
- If you have a zombie book, halfway through the conversation, people will start calling your zombies "walkers."
- A girl with a bow and arrow will always bring with her a reference to Katniss, unless she has red hair. Then you’re getting Merida.
- Having a character ride a dragon will earn you Eragon comparisons, which is funny since my mind always goes to The Dragonriders of Pern.
- Mild incest will get you City of Bones, though I think Oedipus’s "go big or go home" attitude was a stronger choice.
Tales have been told for thousands of years. And currently there are millions of books in circulation. Everything could be considered derivative of something else. Rugged cowboys have been winning the heroine for years! Does that mean there should never be another western romance?
Of course not! It means that your telling of the age old tale will have a unique take only you could ever find. It will be written in a voice only you have. Your hero will think differently, react differently even if they are in a gun fight after a bad poker game in a saloon. How that fight ends makes the story, not the spurs on his boots.
And the same goes for the story of a boy wizard. His wand is his own. His story is his own. And his love for the girl called Emilia Gray is all he needs.
Megan O’Russell is thrilled to have her premier novel The Tethering published with Silence in the Library Publishing. Book two in The Tethering series, The Siren’s Realm, is currently available for pre-order. Megan’s work can also be found the anthology Athena’s Daughter’s 2.
Originally from New York, Megan is a professional actress who spends her time traveling the country for different shows. When not on stage or writing, Megan spends time with her beloved ukulele and her wonderful husband. To follow Megan’s writing adventures, you can
visit her website at meganorussell.com.
The Tethering Buy links
The Siren’s Realm Buy Links