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What I Don't Read
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Mary and I write historical mystery novels set during the late Roman era but we don't read similar books.

Don't I want to keep up with the competition? To be honest, no. I don't much like competition and I fear "keeping up" would just discourage me. Other people's ideas always seem more interesting than one's own.

More importantly, I'd rather not know what authors using similar material, are up to. I don't want to be influenced (as I probably would be) and I don't care to leave myself open to any suspicion of being influenced. So I recuse myself from reading other Roman mysteries. Should anyone ever accuse me of copying something by Stephen Saylor or Lindsey Davis, I've got an airtight alibi.

Someday, when I'm writing something different, when it's safe, I'll likely go back discover what I missed.

What about keeping up with other authors to avoid duplicating their efforts? Isn't there a danger of doing what's already been done long ago or, even worse, coming out with a book having the same plot, or puzzle, or setting as another current novel?

I don't consider that a risk.

It isn't the plot or puzzle that makes a novel...unless it is a very poor novel. Novels are interesting precisely because of what individual writers bring to them. Two different writers, using the same ingredients, will write entirely different books. As long as Mary and I are doing our job, bringing our own unique viewpoint to the work, it won't matter if we do end up using a plot twist that someone else used. Not that it is very likely to duplicate another's work in any truly significant way. Consider the trouble Borges' fictional writer went to to rewrite Cervantes!

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