* the following contains spoilers for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, if there’s anyone apart from me who hasn’t read the damn book
So yesterday I was working through a draft of my novel, which I started what, seven years ago? and have been desultorily hacking away at ever since, in fits and starts, leaving it to soak, coming back to it for a good scrub, leaving it to soak some more…I was just noodling through the draft, correcting words here and there, taking my time, enjoying the wonderful originality of my plot, my exceptionally interesting protagonist and my clever use of arcana.
And two hours later I was in a movie cinema watching ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ and biting my fist in an effort not to scream. Or possibly vomit.
Because the plot suddenly included a mention of the Old Testament book of Leviticus, and quoted some passages from Leviticus. And two hours earlier I had been looking up passages from Leviticus to put in my novel. The same passages. The very same, particular, exact passages. Out of all the mad-ass, haphazard, random passages in that especially bizarre Biblical book: the very same ones.
Now, I have spent much of the past few years diligently avoiding Stieg Larsson’s famous trilogy, mostly on the principle (gained while bookselling and in charge of bookclub reading lists) that anything everyone in the world is reading must be shunned, at least for a few years til the fuss dies down. I’ve been told countless times how good the trilogy is and so on, but I managed to avoid reading any of the books, any excerpts, seeing any of the Swedish films, etc. All I knew was that it features a young woman who’s raped and is then very angry about it. That was it. Truly. That was all I knew.
So I go from working on my book that features a pale, misanthropic, boots-wearing, knife-carrying young woman who slips quotes from Leviticus under people’s windscreens before going on the hunt for the killer of ritually murdered bodies covered in tattoos (shut up, it makes sense in the telling)… to watching fucking Lisbeth Solander, a pale, misanthropic, boots-wearing, taser-carrying, much-tattooed young woman on the hunt for the killer of ritually murdered bodies which have something to do with Leviticus.
And no one, no one will ever believe that I didn’t read the fucking trilogy and shamelessly rip it off! No one will believe that I made up my dear character Bailey seven years ago. That I was including Leviticus just because of a vague memory that it contains some hilarious words about mould, had put them in the text but then wondered if there was something perhaps a bit nastier that I could include, and when I checked its text yesterday there were actually some more dramatic and apposite bits about ‘if a woman be a medium or a sorceress…’ which I REALLY WASN’T EXPECTING to find on the movie screen a mere hour and a half later.
FUCK. Well, that’s what you get if you dither and take seven years to write a book. Some dead Swede will write it for you.
Please consider this post date-stamped and evidence that I really, really didn’t know anything about Larsson, the hive mind is alive and well, genre fiction is, after all, a matter of rearranging hallowed tropes, and I can only wish that my Bailey ever becomes the tiniest bit as famous as Ms Solander. That is once I take out all the Leviticus quotes and give my heroine a tan.
The movie, by the way, was pretty good. Unfortunately.