from Vampires, Scones, and Edmund Herondale, by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan.
Wow, this is not my week. ;)
So… I wrote that, and apparently it’s in the Hunger Games movie. No need to blame Cassandra Clare.
I’ve always said I wrote it.
I’ve only seen the Hunger Games movie once (I don’t know if it was in the books, if it was, my bad even more, I have read that first book more than once and consider myself a fan) and it was in the cinema with several non-book-reading friends whispering ‘Does she get with Peter or Dale?’ I don’t remember any lines from it except for the ‘I volunteer as tribute’ line, and that’s because it’s on tumblr so much. I bought the movie… because it was great, and I intend to watch it and parody it, but in seven months I haven’t had time, which sucks out loud, especially if I’d watched the movie again I wouldn’t have written the line.
I wrote most of that whole scene, which is a scene about politics between an angel-blooded community with strict laws and a loose assortment of different vaguely demon-y people they don’t get along with. Because I (always on the side of the vaguely demon-y) wanted to write stuff about how said politics would be, slightly based on the fight for Home Rule in Ireland at the time. Hello, my name is Sarah and I’m a history nerd. Cassie went over it and added more werewolf/vampire romance.
I made the joke because well, it’s a joke construction that’s pretty common. The Hunger Games did it, so did Friends and Sex in the City and a ton of other things. Someone’s destroying stuff, and the other person’s like ‘Oh dear God no, you vandal, that was Armani/a Ming vase/WATCH THE MONET/they’re Manolos!’
Seemed natural to do a similar joke in a Victorian setting, because werewolves in a Victorian parlour could do a lot of damage if they got agitated.
I also made jokes about Queen Victoria giving birth to her ninth kid, and how everyone at the time was like ‘Chloroform? Why would the Queen use THAT, when ladies totally love giving birth and it’s so awesome?’ I’m a history nerd, and that means era-appropriate jokes. ;)
At the time, a bunch of expensive furniture was made of mahogany. Mahogany exists (the Hunger Games didn’t make it up) and is expensive (quote: “… and the notary consistently appraised mahogany furniture at higher amounts than other kinds of furniture.15 like dussolier’s inventory, the “Miscellaneous announcements” section of newspapers only distinguished wood if it was mahogany.”) So, I thought of mahogany, as I might’ve thought of Wedgwood bone china.
I also thought of mahogany because I really love mahogany. I am into interior design, I love old furniture and old houses, I think it’s a beautiful kind of wood, so that’s why it came to mind.
But actually… I have more to confess on the subject of mahogany. (NOBODY EVER KNEW THERE WAS THIS MUCH TO CONFESS ON THE SUBJECT OF MAHOGANY.) Okay, please prepare yourselves for some secondhand embarrassment, because I am about to be such a nerd, you may not even be able to take it.
I have loved mahogany since I was fifteen, when I was reading a book series called The Secret Circle by L.J. Smith, and one of the characters… the one who I had a crush on…. had eyes that were described as the colour of mahogany. I didn’t know what mahogany looked like, but you better believe I looked it up. And then I went ‘wow, pretty.’
I… actually have proof of this. And I think you should know, after I have shared this proof, I am going to have to go under my bed and live there forever. Please send all my messages to SRB, Under the Bed. (Um, deliberate book/movie reference.)
I liked the L.J. Smith books so much that… my best friend and I… set up a website about the books and the cute boys in them. We called ourselves Hellewise and Maya (I was Maya) after other two characters in the L.J. Smith books? (Please put me on an iceberg and send me out to sea where nobody can laugh at me.)
This website still exists:
As does the page where the character from the Secret Circle is extensively described and quoted from, and his beyootiful mahogany eyes particularly.
So… yup. Mahogany. I’m into it. Maybe too into it.
(Now, when I was writing it, I was just like ‘I have written a joke. Now another! Now another! I LOVE JOKES!’ All this is me thinking back to what was behind the joking. I didn’t think about it much at the time.)
You guys can, of course, call me a plagiarist if you like, or decide I suck, though I think three words of a joke is… not plagiarism.
'It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission' is something I've seen several times, and I've noticed that. By Lois McMaster Bujold, by Christopher Paolini, it was originally said by Grace Hopper… I've been like 'Oh, same line. Tip of the hat or they just came up with it?' No way for me to know, but I didn't go 'Stealin” or decide they sucked. (Lois McMaster Bujold, a long way from sucking. I love Lois McMaster Bujold's writing.)
I’m writing an online short story for my lovely readers right now, and I was reading over it as I wrote more and saw that the bratty hero at one point when told he couldn’t do something says 'I do what I want.'
I am fairly certain it is something I’ve seen people say a lot on tumblr. Um, maybe it comes from somewhere? Maybe it’s just tumblrspeak. In any case, it obviously got into my brain, and I wrote it down. This happens.
Going through my books or my fanfiction (I know tons of people have a file, because I made one and gave it to them ;))… well, guys, feel free to do it. I simply don’t know if there would be a line here or there that you could find in another book or a movie or whatever. I don’t google every line as I write them, you end up reading your own book forty thousand million times so every line seems weirdly familiar on re-reads, but I think it’d be pretty clear that there isn’t a pattern, and that I think I can come up with my own jokes myself. Whether my jokes are any good… that I leave up to the reader!
Had I decided to start stealing jokes, I would not be ninnyhammer enough to go ‘the big YA movie franchise of 2012. That’s where I’ll go first. Am a criminal mastermind. Nobody will EVER SUSPECT!’
So, to wind this up: Cassie, I’m sorry about this! It’s my fault, and while as this massive post suggests it was massively unintentional, I feel really bad, especially about the assumption you wrote this when I did. The Bane Chronicles is meant to be about fun, and about celebrating the popularity in YA of a bisexual Indonesian dude who dresses flamboyantly and does magic and is a hero, and not to cause hassle like this for you or anyone.
To my past self: Sarah, I’m mad at you: I don’t love internet drama and it sucks to have to do another round of it, specially in my capacity as ‘that girl kind of adjacent to Cassie.’ (While obviously Cassie is my friend and I like her…I like all my friends…I’d much rather people thought of me as ‘Sarah Rees Brennan, she writes bangin’ YA books’ or even ‘Sarah Rees Brennan, unfortunate jokes.’ Possibly from now on it’s going to be ‘Sarah Rees Brennan, keep her away from the mahogany.’) Please pay more attention to movies, and I’m especially mad I had to tell people about the Books, the Bad and the Babes site, which YOU, past Sarah, are entirely responsible for.
To anyone who felt thrown out of the story by that line, I am sorry as well. Can totally change it to werewolves crushing Wedgwood if you’d prefer. ;)
On the subject of internet flak, well, please don’t send me abusive anonymous messages (though I will try to answer non-abusive non-anonymous ones on this topic as I do on others, in my super-behind fashion), but I do think this—if you’ve decided someone sucks (and, just saying, so many people find it easy to say ladies suck, and dudes rock) you examine everything they do, and you believe everything bad that everybody says about them. And nobody’s going to look good if you do that.
I sure wouldn’t.
There is a strange fetishization of the “purely original idea” that seems to exist largely online and is crippling to any honest discussion about the writing process. All writing is in conversation with the writing that came before it, the life experiences of the writer, and the larger world that writer lives in. People draw from that common pool of experiences and influences and often come up with overlapping phrases, overlapping ideas, even similar characters. We do no one a service by talking about any of that as plagiarism. What matters is what each writer does with the stuff the bring to the table. What matters is how they add to the conversation. I highly recommend reading Jonathan Lethem’s fantastic essay “The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism,” especially if you’re a writer yourself or ever want to be.
However, I am not reblogging this essay for that reason. I am reblogging it for the link to baby Sarah’s FREAKING ADORABLE angelfire fan page for the Secret Circle books. I clicked on that link and snorted coffee out my nose.