I mentioned in a blog post a few weeks ago that I would explain the story of Imago and how I found out about The Butterfly Hunter, and how I almost died thinking I’d possibly (unknowingly) copied the story line.
*takes deep breath* So, here it is…
A few weeks back when I was in Sydney, I met up with another author friend for coffee. We were discussing our WIP’s and I gave her a very brief plot rundown of my first draft of Imago. An Australian Lepidopterist. A parks and wildlife officer. A search for a butterfly that supposedly doesn’t exist.
She gave me a strange, slightly horrified look and said, “that sounds familiar.”
She quickly Googled this other book. The Butterfly Hunter by Julie Bozza. And yes, I agreed wholeheartedly that it sounded like Imago. Or, rather, Imago sounded like The Butterfly Hunter.
I, of course, died.
An Australian Lepidopterist. A bush guide/parks and wildlife officer. A search for a butterfly that supposedly doesn’t exist. How could this even be, right?
The first thing I did was bought a copy of The Butterfly Hunter. The second thing I did was contact Julie Bozza. The third thing I did was put a call out for prereaders, who had also read Julie’s book.
My first contact with Julie, where I explained what had had happened was more a panic-stricken rant that went like “OMG I’ve just written a book and I think I copied you but I can’t have because I have never read your book but I’m just diving into it now, and I would DIE if anyone thought I’d plagiarised you. Please send help!”
To which Julie replied, with a lot more sense and less panic than me.
I asked if she would mind reading my first draft to see if she was comfortable with what I’d written. Julie very graciously, very generously, agreed. I told her I’d be happy to re-write anything she found too similar. She only had to say the word, and I would.
Julie replied a few short hours later with a long, detailed response that boiled down to her final conclusion:
I think there are a few superficial similarities, but it’s a very different kind of story, and I don’t think you should change anything. To me it’s perfectly obvious it’s all your own work.
Relief, thy name is mine.
Yes, there are superficial similarities. That’s never going to be denied. It can’t be. It’s there for the world to see. But each story is different in the details, in the telling. Like Julie pointed out, it’s not unlike the thousand same Billionaire CEO/struggling intern stories, the vampire/vampire hunter stories, the werewolf alpha/beta stories, the bad guy/good policeman stories, the overweight person/fitness trainer stories… The list of similar tropes/plot devices is endless.
I also sent the book to five pre-readers who had also read Julie’s book. I needed external opinions from people with nothing invested in either story. Every single pre-reader said the same thing. The similarities are superficial, the stories are very different. Don’t change a thing.
For the record, and full disclosure, after reading The Butterfly Hunter, I did change two very minor details in Imago. One, the type of car/4WD that Lawson drove (it was a Land Cruiser, like Dave from TBH – Julie’s comment was that Dave would be horrified if Lawson drove anything but a Cruiser LOLOL but alas, Lawson now drives a Defender). The second minor change being, Jack’s best friend Remmy’s husband Gino was Italian (like Dave from TBH’s best friend’s husband, Vittorio). My character is now Nico and he’s now from Portugal. Neither detail (car make/model or secondary characters’ nationality) was important to the plot development and were very easy to change. But while they were very small minor details, all together added/helped to paint a bigger picture of unintentional similarity.
Of course I take plagiarism seriously. Very seriously. I’d be horrified to think anyone thought I’d be reckless (read: stupid) enough to publish a book without all due care and respect to another author’s work. Which is why I’m so very grateful for my friend who pointed out my plot had parallels to another book. Because at that point, I hadn’t read The Butterfly Hunter. I had no clue such book existed. I would have died if I found out only after I’d released Imago.
Knowing beforehand gave me the opportunity to contact Julie and get her seal of approval first. I’m truly grateful Julie responded warmly and she welcomed my approaching her. She could have very easily told me she didn’t want Imago published, but she took time from her busy schedule to read my first draft and offer feedback. I’m forever grateful. I should also mention a special thanks to Manifold Press. <3
I’m also grateful that readers are wary and look out for another author whose work might possibly be plagiarised. Plagiarism is a very serious issue in this industry and I’m thankful readers are vigilant.
If you haven’t read Julie Bozza’s The Butterfly Hunter, I strongly urge you to. It’s a gorgeous book, filled with gentle prose and elegant, intelligent storytelling. I know you’ll fall in love with Dave and Nicholas, just like I did.
You can find Julie’s Amazon page HERE.
You can check out her Website HERE.
So, there’s the long story short. Yes, I’m aware of The Butterfly Hunter. Yes, Julie’s aware of Imago, she has read it, and has NO issue with it. (Edited to add: Julie wrote a blog post on Imago. You can read it HERE) I have, however, in finding Julie’s writing now added a whole bunch of her books to my TBR list. LOL If you’re new to Julie Bozza, like I was, you’re in for a real treat. She sure knows how to write!
I’ll be doing more guest posts with Julie and giveaways in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!
Thanks for reading! Until next week…