As a writer, when I find a great book, I enjoy studying the craft behind it. Characters, setting, dialogue, pacing—all that. Rarely do I wish I had written that book. I am content to admire it as someone else’s work of art, even if it was a phenomenal bestseller. But every now and then, something comes along, some idea which is so in tune with my sense of fun and adventure, that I slap my palm to my forehead and cry to the heavens, “Why didn’t I think of that?” (Okay, not really, but I might flap my hands a bit.)
The Familiars is one of those head-in-hands books. Three animals, familiars of their young wizard friends, set off to rescue the kids who have been captured by the evil wizard queen. The thing I love about this would-be-typical fantasy featuring kid wizards is that the story is told from the animals’ point of view. What a fun twist!
Kenneth Oppel’s Darkwing is another of those concepts I wish I had thought of—animals on the cusp of evolution.
And of course, Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book (I know—the link is superfluous), a ghostly twist on Kipling’s The Jungle Book, one of my childhood favorites.
Then there are great books whose overall concept I don’t envy, but which have certain aspects, such as a dynamite character or setting, that I wish had been mine. One of these is the character Wolf from Michelle Paver’s Chronicles of Darkness series.
Fortunately, I have plenty of my own stories to write. So, writers, are there any book concepts out there (other than your own) you wish could have been yours?