Wednesday, 2 July 2008


A part of my w-i-p involves the fantasy of a child who wonders if the Thomas Simmons she knows is the one who flies of into space in the sphere at the end of H G Wells' The first Men in the Moon. This is quite a strong strand of the child's fantasy life. I have been informed today by the agent who administers Wells' estate that I cannot do this.

Without a massive rewrite, the project is screwed. At the moment, I don't feel up to it.

As I have no other fiction on the go, I no longer feel I have the right to be here, especially if there are others waiting to join. I am happy to do my two coffee mornings to avoid the hassle of re-arranging, but after that (unless I come up with a miraculous solution), I will step down and make way for someone else.


Cathy said...

No, no, no you can't leave us!

My novel is also on hold for now for other reasons and I suspect that when I start writing it again I may actually decide to start on novel two instead, which I am planning in my head now.

This is a huge blow, but new inspiration will come, perhaps in Oct when our new OU course starts??

Graeme K Talboys said...

Aw. Bless you.

I'm going to get advice from the Society of Authors on this. I only contacted A P Watt as a courtesy and explained that my character is not the Wells character, just that Charlie thinks the two might be the same.

B.E. Sanderson said...

I would think use of that premise would depend on how much you use of Wells' actual writing. But then again, I'm not a lawyer and I have no clue how things work over there. Talk to a lawyer before you give in. (Unless you already have, then ignore me.) I would also think any mention of his book in yours would increase knowledge and sales of his work, which is a good thing.

Okay, I just checked and this book isn't copyrighted in the US (in fact, you can download it at Project Gutenberg) - which means it falls under our public domain. Write the book and try to publish it here. (But again, check with a lawyer first.)

You aren't screwed. You're just hitting a speed bump.

Leatherdykeuk said...

In that case, my books must be shot down too, because I use other people's characters. Not just mention them but actually bring them in as walking talking characters. My source book is out of copyright, too. I can't help wondering how much other people have used HG Wells' work without permission. I recall a Cthulu mythos tale which used Wells himself as a protagonist.

Write it anyway, then take legal advice. I think you'll be pleased.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

What about Jasper Fforde? He uses untold numbers of literary characters in all sorts of different ways. I don't think the agent can be right about this. They probably don't understand what you're doing. Don't give up, Graeme. And please don't give up on us, either (unless you really want to, of course).

Anonymous said...

Graeme, do not despair. There are many things you could do to save your project from being assigned to the scrap heap. Admittedly you'll have to do some work on it, but I think many of us have had major plot re-workings in at least one of our projects.

For example, you could contrive your own SF story to replace the HG Wells one. As far as the reader is concerned, it doesn't have to be a famous author and story in real life: it just has to be famous inside your story. That's just one idea, and probably not the miraculous solution you're hoping for. I'm sure there are many other possibilities though.

Why not just take a break from it for a while, stew things over in your mind for a while, then see what you come up with. Let us here at NR know if we can help.

One of my own projects has a potential legal difficulty. My co-author and I are using background settings and ideas that were created by someone else. The actual story and characters are ours, but this "backdrop" is his. We haven't decided what to do about it yet, but options include a contract to split the IPR and any potential royalties (probably just wishful thinking anyway...) in some way. Alternatively we could just re-write and use our own backdrop: My personal preference, but more work for us.

Whatever you do, don't leave us! We value your input.

ChrisH said...

Don't give up and don't leave. All the best.

liz fenwick said...

The SOA should be able to help on this.......from what described I can't see how they can object as you - it is a classic work and these things get referenced all the time.

See what the SOA has to say and who they advise you to speak with.

You don't need to bow out unless you want to - I know if you drop this project at the moment then fiction will creep back into your life and we all appreciate what you bring to our group.


Lane said...

I can only agree with everything the others have said. Graeme - you contribute regularly and invaluably to this group so please reconsider. Also you've come so far with Charlie, I'm sure she's not going to let you leave her in a drawer for long!

Debs said...

It's horrible receiving a horrible shock like this one but do contact SOA and see what they say.

Don't leave, maybe you can do what captain black suggests.

Graeme K Talboys said...

Thanks everyone for your suggestions and support. You are a wonderful group. It knocked me sideways, but you have all dusted me down and pointed me back in the right direction. Big kisses back at you all (or a pint if you'd prefer).

I'll let you know what the SoA have to say on the matter. It just knocked me sideways

Fiona said...

No, don't go. You're a writer and a good one. You CAN get through this.

L-Plate Author said...

That's what this group is all about Graeme, support. I've found it invaluable with my ups and downs and I have been spurred on loads of times instead of giving in.

It'll pass. Doesn't it always?! You'll work a way around it and through it, there are some good ideas up above my comment.

Chin up and stay with us. Hope you'r feeling better soon. Mel xx

B said...

graeme, speaking as someone on the waiting list, i don't want to get a place because someone has to give up on their WIP because of legal difficulties :)

i hope you find a way round them.

Annieye said...

Hear Hear B. Ditto.

I think this is awful Graeme. How many people refer to, say, Dickens's characters in their work? I'm sure this can't be right.

Helen Shearer said...

I have no idea what the legalities are but there has to be a solution. Keep your chin up.

Anonymous said...

Not much to add apart from I hope this works out. I will be interested to find out what happens.

Best wishes, CJ xx

NoviceNovelist said...

Graeme - Hope you stay with us and that you get past this hiccup!!!
Hang in there!

Rowan Coleman said...

I come late to this - but I can't believe you can't use the name of another character, its not as you are plagerising?? Please don't give up and leave! I am sure there is a way round your problem.

Clare Sudbery said...

Definitely SoA might be able to help. But if you get truly stuck, I was going to recommend exactly the same as Captain Black, namely "you could contrive your own SF story to replace the HG Wells one. As far as the reader is concerned, it doesn't have to be a famous author and story in real life: it just has to be famous inside your story."

I think you could probably accomplish this with minimal changes.

Good luck, and don't leave us - you're still a writer!

wordtryst said...

Wow. A totally unrelated character in your book can't even imagine stuff about a character in another book? Doesn't sound right to me.

Hope you find a way around this once the shock has worn off, and that you reconsider leaving the group.