When I finished reading my Aunt’s new story outline, I have to say that I was completely disappointed. This wasn’t my story!! The work that she had done was nothing like what I had in mind. I felt as if she had just taken my idea and twisted it into a foreign stranger that I could barely recognize. I could feel this feeling starting to bubble up in me and there it was…BOOM! The fireworks started…I was so angry…!
I ran to my mother, feeling betrayed and needing to speak with someone about my feelings. Being the protective mother she is, she called my Aunt ready for war. As my Aunt felt she had helped the story which previously didn’t work, she didn’t understand why I was so upset. I guess it didn’t dawn on her that it wasn’t okay to completely change most of my ideas!
But then a new problem arose here. My Aunt claimed that she had fallen in ‘love’ with her new version of the story; and that she was somehow ‘meant’ to write it this way. She and my mother had a huge argument, one of the biggest ever. But after a few days of stalemate and silence, we finally all came to our senses as we realized that our life-long bond and relationship as Aunt and Niece needed to come first…we needed to compromise.
After this, both my Aunt and I were determined to work together to find a solution. Since her story was really a completely new story and only utilized some of the characters that we had developed together, it was fairly easy to now separate my original story from hers, so ultimately we agreed to do this. Since I didn’t have the time to write now and she was eager to continue developing the story that she had outlined, we decided that our compromise would be to each write our own stories as distinct and unique books.
In some ways this was very easy, as my Aunt’s story involved a Sci-Fi twist on Greek mythology, which didn’t really interest me then. She was also fairly flexible, as she was willing to change elements of her story or similar characters to something completely different than what we had developed for my story. I, on the other hand, had specific ideas of how I wanted my story and characters to be, and due to my deep passion and love for Greek Mythology, I felt like I couldn’t change these things about my story. For example, my story was more true to the myths with an ancient, fantastical twist; whereas my Aunt’s story, which later became Protogenesis™, was focused on using modern-day technology and science to add a realistic twist to the creation story of the gods.
There were many things that needed to change so that our stories would be unique enough from each other to both become successful. As both my Mom and my Aunt have been really successful in business, we all decided to create a written “treaty”, kind of like an unofficial legal contract, to agree on what would be included in my book versus what my Aunt could include in hers. What we found, through this process, is that the stories and topics regarding Greek Mythology were vast and plentiful, so there is plenty of room to write both completely different stories with success.
The key issues for us were that both of our stories were about the same goddess, with the settings within similar cities in the United States. I was not about to budge on this goddess, as she was a key inspiration for me during my childhood, which was the whole reason that I wanted to write my book in the first place. At first my Aunt had a hard time with this, because she felt like I was ‘stifling her story’ by making her change it too much, but after some research, we both agreed that Artemis could be better for her story. She was a very strong, powerful goddess and somewhat of a blank canvas, as many have not written about her. Once this was resolved between us, my Aunt and I went back and forth about possible locations for her to set her story. That’s when she came up with the idea to set the story in Greece, since these myths were created there? She was interested in what was going on there now as well. After that, it was pretty much smooth sailing between us, with only a few waves here and there. Each of us supported the other’s book and helped each other along as the stories developed further; and interestingly enough, we discovered that the forced need to make our stories ‘different’ really made us think way outside of the box.
I truly believe that both of our stories are much more original and unique now due to this effort. We also learned a lot about putting family first, resolving conflict and compromise, making us both stronger people and giving us the strength and ability to now work really well together.
I am proud of how much work my Aunt has put into her book series and glad to support her as much as I can as her Young Adult Editor.