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Previous TWWF inspiration posts: The Stand and The Forest of Hands and Teeth

After my Forest of Hands and Teeth-inspired nightmare and subsequent decision that I needed to write a plague book, I started picking up novels here and there that featured epidemics. Some authors prefer to avoid books with similar subject matter when they're working on a new project, because they're concerned they'll unconsciously lift ideas, but for me it's the opposite. I want to know what's already been done with a concept, so I can make sure I'm not just rehashing well-covered ground. And similar books often suggest to me avenues to explore in my own, that I feel those books neglect or that I'd like to approach in a different way.

Among the books I read during that period was Doomsday Book by Connie Willis.

I'd first read Doomsday Book a few years earlier, and loved it. It involves two epidemics, an invented one in a near future where historians travel through time to study the past, and one that actually existed, in the past one of those historians travels back to: the Black Death.

It was Willis's portrayal of the latter that stuck with me the most, and that I found most affecting when I re-read the novel. Particularly I was struck by how she and Kivrin (the main character) grapple with the fact that this past has already happened. These people cannot necessarily be saved, regardless of how hard Kivrin tries. So does it even matter that she has tried?

It's a powerful theme, and one that I hadn't see tackled before, at least not in the same way. As I read the novel again, with my own killer virus idea in mind, I realized that my characters were going to be dealing with similar issues. Most of them would be teens, with no medical training and no background in microbiology. There wouldn't be much they could do, to help someone infected with a mysterious deadly disease. In the face of that knowledge, how were they going to find the will to keep fighting? Would they find that will? Should they?

I mentioned not long ago that the most important thing I need from a new book idea is meaning. Doomsday Book helped me identify what was powerful and meaningful to me about Kaelyn's story in The Way We Fall, and I give much thanks to Connie Willis for that.

If you haven't read it before, or have but would like to own it, I'm giving away a copy of Doomsday Book by random draw! Comment on this post (including your e-mail address) before 2pm EST tomorrow (Jan 3) and you'll be entered. Open to readers worldwide.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 2nd, 2012 06:55 pm (UTC)
I adore Connie Willis and have not read this book but with such a high rec' how can I resist? (Oh, and I want to read YOUR killer virus book, too!)

Dawn.Metcalf (at) gmail.com
Jan. 3rd, 2012 08:53 pm (UTC)
I'm a big Willis fan, and this is my fave of her work! So do not resist. :D
Jan. 3rd, 2012 12:38 am (UTC)
Did you see the new Rise of the Planet of the Apes? I found it interesting how they set up the whole series with a virus! :)
Jan. 3rd, 2012 08:55 pm (UTC)
I have not, but I didn't know it involved a virus! Now I may have to check it out. :)
Jan. 3rd, 2012 09:01 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I don't know if the original concept of POTA was virus-related, or even in the original writer's head, but it worked out really well....
Jan. 3rd, 2012 01:16 am (UTC)
I just picked up Blackout because I've heard great things about Connie Willis' work, but this is on the TBR list too. Thanks for the giveaway! for_rainy_days(at)hotmail(dot)com
Jan. 3rd, 2012 08:56 pm (UTC)
I believe Blackout has some of the same characters as Doomsday Book--they're both in her time-traveling universe.
Jan. 3rd, 2012 01:33 am (UTC)
I read that book when I was deathly ill with pneumonia.

I heard the original print run was tiny, and then it went on to win a bunch of awards, and if you can find a first edition it's worth like $500.
Jan. 3rd, 2012 08:58 pm (UTC)
I didn't know that! Glad its greatness was noticed so that more people got the chance to read it. Though I can imagine reading it while deathly ill is probably not the most enjoyable time...
Jan. 4th, 2012 12:18 am (UTC)
Actually it made it really resonate even more than it might have...

And I heard that story from an author escort, who also reported that she's a very nice person.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

My Books

Earth & Sky
(Earth & Sky #1, science fiction YA)
Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2014

The Clouded Sky
(Earth & Sky #2, science fiction YA)
Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2015

A Sky Unbroken
(Earth & Sky #3, science fiction YA)
Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2015

The Way We Fall
(Fallen World #1, apocalyptic YA)
Disney-Hyperion, 2012

The Lives We Lost
(Fallen World #2, apocalyptic YA)
Disney-Hyperion, 2013

The Worlds We Make
(Fallen World #3, apocalyptic YA)
Disney-Hyperion, 2014

Those Who Lived: Fallen World Stories
(Fallen World #3.5, apocalyptic YA)
self pubbed, 2014

Give Up the Ghost
(paranormal YA)
Henry Holt, 2009

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