All right, it’s time to address the elephant in the room. I mean the sparkly vampire in the room.
Before we proceed any further, I would like to say right now that this is NOT a Twilight-bashing post. I’ve been bashed and bullied enough times in my life to deeply realize how awful it is to ever do that sort of thing. Even indirectly. So you can proceed knowing this will not be a negative post. :)
Okay, here we go:
I suppose it was inevitable. If you write about vampires and/or werewolves, and it isn’t total rated-R adult horror type of stuff, and especially if your book also involves some romance and students at a school . . . your book is going to get compared to Twilight.
For weeks, the Thinklings website’s Bookstore page lacked the end of this sentence: “You’ll enjoy Hunter’s Moon if you’re a fan of . . .” I had spent hours—days—mulling it over and couldn’t think of a well-enough-known book that I felt was anything like my book. As an Enneagram 4, I aspire to be as original as it’s possible to be, given “there’s nothing new under the sun.” (While we’re on this topic, Deborah’s book Bargaining Power is super tricky to pin down too!)
But, eventually, when it was down to the wire and we HAD to complete that web page, I thought, “Well . . . what everyone is probably going to think of in regard to this sort of book is Twilight.” I also added Teen Wolf, a favorite show of mine. (One detail in that show did inspire something in my book. If you figure it out, leave a comment!)
So there it was, right on our site. And then a reviewer who’s well-known, at least in my social media circle, agreed to review the book . . . and when I read what he’d written about Hunter’s Moon, I saw the line “Move over, Stephenie Meyer?”
There it was again.
A bit of background info about me to help you understand: I grew up being compared to someone, totally in her shadow, always unfavorably compared to her. She would get all the compliments, then whoever was saying them would glance vaguely in my direction and move along without another word. Talk about a knife in the heart. Over and over. So I grew up absolutely loathing comparisons. If you’ve read Madeleine L’Engle’s Austin family books, well, I’m Vicky and there’s a Susie in my life. As L’Engle says in at least two of her books: “Comparisons are odious.” I couldn’t agree more.
It’s different, though, with Twilight. It’s not as personal (and I’m slowly getting over childhood traumas). Plus, I have received only positive feedback, so far, on my book. You have no idea how healing that is to me!! I’m slowly taking deep into my soul that I DO have value and worth. To those who have left me a review: “Thank you!!!” just isn’t enough. It doesn’t capture the depths of my gratitude to you, because you’re helping way more than just my career. I’m coming back to life!
Anyway. Mushy, mushy! ;) :P Didn’t quite mean to go down that side path . . . but this is a blog post, and my editor’s not chopping it up. Lol.
My point is: I don’t want to swing from one extreme (“I suck and I’m horrible”) to the other (“My book is WAY better than Twilight!”) and feel totally superior. For one thing, art and taste are so subjective. There are some objective things you can look at: Neither of our books is riddled with typos and poor grammar, and both have a decent plot structure with conflict, rising tension, climax, and resolution—lots of technical details like that. (Not the sort of topic I prefer to write about.) In other words, both books are professionally edited. But there will always be a ton of debate and difference of opinion and preference on top of that.
So maybe a list is in order if you want a comparison:
1. My book doesn’t have a ton of romance. There is some, but it’s a smaller side plot, not the main plot. Like in Twilight, the main character does have two love interests. So you can say you’re “Team Gavin” or “Team Luis,” haha. I do want to hear what team my readers are on, by the way, so let me know in the comments! :D
2. My main character is female, but she’s not “prey” to the male lead (her major love interest—at least he is in book 1). They’re equals. He’s not her idol or her everything. They disagree, and she isn’t afraid to stand up to him and assert her opinion. She takes action to fix her problem instead of curling up in a ball, paralyzed with depression. So I’d say Melanie is a much stronger heroine than Bella.
3. Both take place in a small-town sort of environment near a forested area in the USA. Mine takes place in Pennsylvania, so it’s on the other side of the country from Twilight.
4. My main characters are in college, rather than high school.
5. Hunter’s Moon does not have vampires. (Sorry, they didn’t fit in. Maybe my next series will have them! :)
6. My book has themes of pain and suffering, coming of age, and loss of innocence. Also, a reviewer insightfully pointed out my book has a theme of what it means to be human. The main characters may be werewolves, but they are first and foremost human and don’t think of themselves as wolves or animals. They’re trying to break a curse and get back their full humanity. I can’t remember enough about the themes of Twilight to compare; it’s been years since I read the books or watched the movies. If you want to remind me in the comments, feel free! :)
Those are all the areas I can think of right now, and I don’t want this post to get too long.
Have a lovely almost-spring day! (Hurry up, spring—winter is overstaying its welcome! LOL!!)
Sarah Awa lives in Ohio with two hairy guys and writes books about werewolves.