Should authors produce similar content?

similar content

This was one of my problems when I first published an adult novel and then switched to Young Adult.


Should authors produce the same kinds of stories? Personally I loved reading Maria V Snyder’s Poison Study series and then the Healer series and finding them both basically the same kind of story, with the same type of heroine, love interest, and even a pair of allies who treated the heroine like a sister.

The same with David Gemmell’s heroic fantasy novels – mostly starring loner former heroes past their prime (Druss, Waylander, Jon Shannow) or young outcasts (Skilgannon, Gaelen) with a token warrior woman who will still need rescuing, often with some kind of man-beast hybrid that would have to be murdered eventually. I could pick up any Gemmell book and know exactly what I would be getting. There is always a quiet swordsman, a brute, and an archer in the team novels.

John Green writes manic pixie dream girls and boys as love interests.

Rick Riordan writes about descendants of mythological gods.

Cassandra Clare writes thinly veiled Harry Potter fanfiction.

Richelle Mead writes YA heroines who are smart and sassy and go-getters.

Stephanie Meyer specialises in weird love triangles.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Personally I like being able to say, “I feel exactly like a David Gemmell novel” and being able to pick up one that hits all the right buttons.

My own writing

Both of my full-length novels are wildly different.

  • Adult vs teen protagonist.
  • POC vs white ‘goth’ girl
  • Sci-fi vs paranormal.
  • Established relationship vs new love interest.
  • Deep space vs suburbia.
  • Limited characters vs larger cast.

But there are certain similarities:

  • Strong/powerful female lead
  • Diverse cast
  • Feminist slant on the storyline
  • Both heroines overcome their own issues and are the agents of their own stories
  • BUT both heroines need the help of their friends/allies to do so
  • Both characters’ actions propel the storyline forward.
  • I like to think of them as both active heroines, not passive.

That is what I’m aiming for in my ‘branding’.

In all of the stories I write, I want those similarities to be there. I want someone to be able to identify a Lissa Bilyk novel and be able to say, “Yes, I recognise those elements from her other novels” even though I’m writing in different genres with different plots and different characters.

I want my books to be different but familiar.

Write What You Know: Knowing More Than You Put On The Page

knowing more

As a writer, I feel the need to really know my characters, their situations, their props and settings.

For The Edge of Darkness, that wasn’t so hard. It was largely a made-up world, set in deep space on a spaceship and the weapons used were also made up.

Internet-Based Research

I did some research on amputees and prosthetics to try to get a feel for what Max might be feeling as a cyborg with a robotic arm. I researched what kind of food could theoretically be grown on a spaceship. I researched some other science-y things. But when I wrote the story, I probably knew a lot more than I was putting in to the book.

With Winter Witch, one of my characters wears a monocle. I had no idea how monocles stayed put, so I did some research to better understand my character. I found out how someone inserts and wears a monocle, and I felt like I had a strong grasp on the eyepiece and I wrote it into the book.

When I mentioned the research to friends, another author piped up that she was interested in how people wore monocles. I was surprised, because I was sure I’d read one of her characters in one of her books I’d read actually did wear a monocle. I was surprised because this author didn’t know how her character wore a monocle and she clearly hadn’t done the research into finding it out. Maybe she didn’t care. Maybe it wasn’t important. The character wore a monocle and that’s all we needed to know.


Write what you know.

“Write what you know” is probably one of the most repeated pieces of writing advice out there. And it’s true, you should write about what you know. But you can always expand upon what you know by research.

As for me? I didn’t feel comfortable writing about a character who wore a monocle until I knew exactly how a monocle worked. I think it’s an issue with my perfectionism that I needed to research something so foreign to me. But I didn’t want to make some basic mistake that a monocle-wearing fan might point out in the book.

My character doesn’t even take his monocle off or put it back on, so I’m not quite sure why it was so important to me to know these things. Maybe for future reference? I’m sure I only mention the monocle in passing.

The research I did certainly wasn’t earth-shattering, but as a writer I felt like I needed to know more than I was putting on the page.

I think that’s why we’re told to write what we know.

NaNoWriMo Prep in October – The Writing Playlist

Every year I prepare a writing playlist specifically for NaNoWriMo. Sometimes I need absolute silence to write, other times I can do with some tunes to get me in the right frame of mind.

I find that film soundtracks work best of all.

This year I discovered Spotify. It’s a free web player with a massive library of albums. The only downside is that sometimes they put in ads, but that’s OK because they tend to only last for about 30 seconds. It can be frustrating interrupting your music flow, but for a free web player i won’t be complaining.

NOTE – I tried using the Spotify app on my phone, but it’s not the same. Selecting a playlist led to other random songs being played as well. Only on the web player and on tablets does it actually do what you want it to do.

Here is this year’s playlist, thanks to Spotify:

Spotify says it’s about 6 hours worth of music. It’s remarkably different to my 2011 NaNo soundtrack which eventually consisted of one song played on repeat.

Storm of Blood on Amazon and a whole lot of links

Storm of Blood final cover

Storm of Blood is on for 99c. This introductory offer will last for all of May, and then the price will go up.

Also, just a reminder that Storm of Blood can also be downloaded from Smashwords for free using the coupon code EA42K on check out. The coupon expires at the end of May.

The first several chapters are also available to read for free on Goodreads. Check it out if you’re not sure if you want to commit to a purchase. You can also read excerpts on Amazon and Smashwords before purchasing.

Currently Storm Front and The Archive of Lost Dreams are available for free on Smashwords and for 99c on Amazon. I am trying to make them available for free on Amazon as well, but the process and not easy and I beg for your patience in the matter. You can help by visiting their Amazon pages, scrolling down a bit to ‘tell us about a lower price’, and reporting they are available for free on some of the bigger sellers like Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Sony and Diesel. Here, I’ll even make it super easy by providing all the links:

Storm Front:

Amazon – currently 99c.

Free on:

Barnes & Noble

The Archive of Lost Dreams:

Amazon – currently 99c.

Free on:

Barnes & Noble

As usual, The Edge of Darkness is 99c on Smashwords and Amazon.

And We’re Done! (Again)

So after a month and a half of gruelling editing where I have totally shirked my August Camp NaNoWriMo aspirations, I have finally completed the newest, shiniest draft of Storm of Blood.

It’s going off to some loyal and totally fantastic beta readers ahead of it landing in the lap of my shiny editor in a couple of months.

I am so relieved! This year has been so difficult, what with my grandfather dying (I so cannot deal with grief narratives right now), moving to Australia, finding employment, dealing with said employment (some times I just need to relax!), and planning a wedding. I seem to be the kind of person who puts so much effort into what I do, a perfectionist attitude, that I have no energy for anything else other than what I’m working on at the time. I have no idea how other writers manage to do it. Most of the time I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above the water.

But yay! And also, these characters? Tina and Ten won’t leave me alone. They’re already harassing me for a new book. Jeez, guys! I just finished the last one! Give me some time to relax.