So yesterday, I found out something very…interesting, and also a little disturbing. I had to do a double take to make sure I wasn’t seeing things.
Sherrilyn Kenyon sues Cassandra Clare for copyright infringement.
I have only recently begun to read The Mortal Instruments, beginning with City of Bones, and of course I’ve been watching the show on Freeform. As I read City of Bones, I admit that it reminded me a lot of the Dark-Hunters, which is Kenyon’s series, first published in 1998. Even so, there are many differences, least of all that The Mortal Instruments are YA and the Dark-Hunters are…not. The Mortal Instruments, from what I’ve read so far, seems more focused on angels and demons, whereas the Dark-Hunters draw heavily from Greek mythology. The core concepts of secret, supernatural protectors of mankind may be the same, but I’d argue overall they are very different series.
I’d like to preface my point with the fact that I absolutely worshipped Sherrilyn Kenyon in high school. I loved her books, I thought she was a fabulous person, a fabulous writer, and I wanted to be Sherrilyn Kenyon when I grew up.
Now I want to be J. R. Ward, but that’s another story altogether.
Just from the initial reports of the lawsuit and what it’s about, and basing my opinion off what I know of both series, which favors the Dark-Hunters more than the Shadowhunters, I think Kenyon is wrong here. Not only that, but she is setting a very dangerous precedent if she wins. The idea that a concept can be copyrighted is a scary thing for authors everywhere. It means that if Bram Stroker were still alive, he could potentially sue Anne Rice. E.L. James could sue the multitude of authors self-publishing billionaire BDSM stories on Amazon. For that matter, Stephanie Meyers could sue E.L. James.
I may have grown distant from the Dark-Hunter universe in recent years, but I still have love for them as a series that taught me a lot as a writer, that fed me as a reader in so many ways. I respect Sherrilyn Kenyon for everything she has done and accomplished and I still cherish the memory of when I got to meet her at a booksigning. But I think she is wrong here, and what is even worse is how quickly this could turn into mudslinging.
I don’t know if many people are aware of this, but Sherrilyn Kenyon had/has a HUGE following. Kenyon Menyons, they’re called. They worship her work and the universe she created and for many of them, it changed their lives for the better. I know, because I was once heavily in the fandom with Menyons. I also know that Cassandra Clare’s fandom is such that they even tell her when they think she didn’t do something right.
These are two huge, mega fandoms that could potentially go to war for their favorite authors on the Internet, and that could dissolve into one huge mess. I’ve been watching Twitter and Facebook a lot in the last twenty-four hours and so far, I haven’t seen any fighting, but I have seen posts where it could very easily start. I hope it doesn’t, but I also believe it could.
I am going to be watching this closely as it unfolds, and I really hope it works out for both sides without too much of a fuss. I have been so excited to get into The Mortal Instruments and the world of the Shadowhunters, and I still keep my signed Dark-Hunter hardbacks in a place of honor on my bookshelf, even though I really don’t follow the series anymore.
For more information on this lawsuit, here is The Guardian link where I first read about this.