Friday, December 16, 2011

Ripping Off the Masters

Posted by: Jeffe Kennedy
Here be Jeffe!

Hi, yes, I'm one of the newest additions to the Here Be Magic blog. The other Carina fantasy and paranormal authors tried to gently discourage me, but I wouldn't be stopped!

Actually everyone has been so generous and lovely to me. My fantasy doesn't come out until July, but I get to hang out here and yack about it. Which is really just a thrill. I grew up reading fantasy and now I get to contribute something back.

It feels magical.

I've mentioned before on my own blog, how much I loved Anne McCaffrey's books and how saddened I was by her passing. So, lately I've been going back and rereading my favorites. This has been an interesting exercise for me. Though I've read most of her books at least twice, some maybe as many as ten or twelve times, I hadn't read any for at least twenty years.

I went back to the very first book of hers I ever read, DragonSong, which may have been the first ever "real" science fiction book I ever read. (It's labeled Sci Fi on the spine.) I was ten years old and I found it in the school library. (Thank you librarians everywhere!) It was a hard-back copy, covered in that cellophane they use. I can't quite recall the cover, but it was alluring. I've posted the cover of the sequel, DragonSinger, here because it's the original paperback cover. I used to have a copy of DragonSong with similar art, but I lent it to someone and never got it back. I miss that copy. It may have been the first time that I read a library book and then went out and bought my own copy. The edition I have now has a stupid 80s cover. I have no idea what they were thinking.

At any rate, I discovered something shocking when I re-read these old books.

I totally rip off Anne McCaffrey in my own writing.

I know, I know. This is a terrible thing. Except I had no idea I was doing it!

It's maybe not that obvious, but I can see my own favorite turns of phrase were clearly laid into my brain by all that reading. "A keen sense of the ridiculous." "That's an invidious question." And countless other word choices, small and large.

There's more. I recognize my character interactions in her books. The way she combines personal relationships with world politics.

I recall in art class, they said the best way to learn is to recreate the paintings of the masters. You follow in their footsteps and learn how they did it. Growing up with my nose in a book maybe did this for me. The rhythm of all the great stories I read are laid into my brain, guiding my way.

I just hope I can come close to what they did.


  1. Great post. I loved her, too. I have always told my husband he has a keen sense of the obvious but I got it from a law school professor. Lol

  2. Ha! that's a great line, Jillian. I guess we all steal our best stuff.

  3. She was one of my all time favorites and I SO wanted to figure out a way to travel to Pern and Impress a dragon! Great post!

  4. I think a lot of us do that sort of thing without realizing it. Odds are we picked up the phrase when reading and started using it upon occasion. Our friends looked at us funny, so we only pulled it out less and less often until we only said it in our heads. Then we became authors. Over time the origin of the phrase disappeared from memory, but the words didn't. AND we still loved them, so we use them.

    *hugs* I have a feeling Anne McCaffrey would be flattered.

  5. Seleste - that's so insightful. I still remember my friends looking at me funny and asking what the hell "invidious" means!

    And you're so sweet so suggest she'd be flattered. I'm just pissed that I don't get to meet her now.

  6. Was this the cover of Dragon Song?

    I love David Eddings and often see some of his sparkle in my work. I know what you mean, you do it without even realizing it!

  7. I loved these books too back in the day. The creative process is such a weird thing. I actually kind of worry that I'll pick up a random phrase from somewhere and use it not remembering where it came from.

  8. Bonnie!! That IS it! Ah, how lovely to see it again. Thank you so much for digging that up!

    I think you're right, Bonnie and Eleri, we do it without realizing it. I suppose it's inevitable. Nothing new under the sun and all that.

  9. Don't worry, Jeffe. I'm sure you'll still get to meet her sooner or later. (Be careful what you wish for, and all that.)

  10. You mean, she might be born as my next grandchild? That would be super cool!

  11. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? I loved Anne McCaffery's books, too, but if I had to own up to - uhm - having been *influenced* by anyone, it would be Andre Norton. She got to me first. :D

  12. I notice that Dragonsinger is dedicated to Andre Norton. It's a chain.

  13. I agree with Seleste, I think we all do on some unconscious level, especially with classics and ground breakers like Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton and the like. We are influenced by what we love. I think she's be deeply flattered and proud.


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