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In February 2006 I had a book come out called Shock Point. I put "Shock Point" in as a Google Search term, and began to get emails when it was mentioned on the Web. A few months after my book came out, I got this little snippet from Kirkus for a book called The Silent Room. "With a plot that mirrors April Henry's rather shallow Shock Point..." I didn't get any more, just that.
I had three thoughts.
One: "rather shallow"? Kirkus seems to pride itself on snide comments. (Full disclosure: Although I always discount their snideness, if they ever gave me a starred review, I would decide they were the most insightful folks ever.) (Full disclosure two: likelihood of this ever happening? Close to zero.)
Two: WTF? With a plot that "mirrors" mine? From an imprint of the same house?
Three: Thank God mine came out first.
I was desperate to read the rest of the review, but no one I knew subscribed to Kirkus. Finally, I managed to finagle a copy of the advanced readers edition of the other book. It did have some similarities, but there were also many differences. The similarities came about because Walter Sorrells and I had obviously read the same newspaper accounts of this chain of boot-camp schools for troubled teens run by a former used car salesman.
So neither of us copied from each other. It was just a coincidence. That's the danger when you write about something in real life. Some other author may already be writing that story. May already have written it.