MJ’s Musings: If Her Nora-ness Can Write…

I have been reading Nora Roberts’ Chronicles of the One and enjoying every word. Can’t wait for book three, The Rise of Magicks to come out in a couple of weeks.

Book one, Year One, reminded me of Stephen King’s The Stand on so many levels. Of course, every other reader of The Stand said the same thing. That doesn’t make the trilogy any less compelling. After all, there are only between six and 1,462 plots in the world (depending on who’s speaking). Everything else is a variation on a theme.  Story ideas, especially from the best, are going to overlap.

A couple of years ago, I had a disturbingly vivid dream. Upon waking I transcribed  the  dream as the opening scene of a novel and read it to my RWA chapter’s critique group later that morning.  One member said, “It sounds kind of like A Handmaid’s Tale.” I had heard of this book, but hadn’t read it. The series had not yet been shown on TV. It may have been in production at the time, but if so, I wasn’t aware of it.

I wrote the book in a couple of months. It’s a dystopian tale that went through several title changes before I settled on The Eleventh Sybil.  I thought the story was powerful. My critique group agreed. I started shopping the book to agents.

By this time, A Handmaid’s Tale was airing. Sales of the novel surged.  A sequel was in the works. I read Atwood’s book while I was writing mine. They are not the same story.

Yet one agent wrote back: “I’ve read this before.”

If I were Nora Roberts, submitting Year One, would the agent say the same thing?

Okay, I get it: she’s Nora,and I’m not. But that doesn’t mean my story doesn’t deserve a fair reading.

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