PDA

View Full Version : Dieselpunk inspired by Evita?



Morwen Edhelwen
12-27-2011, 03:13 AM
A while ago, I started rewriting an old piece that can basically be described as a "YA dieselpunk thriller which is loosely inspired by the musical Evita." A very loose take on Evita. I had an idea that it was going to be set in Belize or Nicaragua, or one of the other Central American countries which used to be considered "banana republics" for their involvement with the United Fruit Company in the 1900s, and for their political instability.

The story's protagonist and narrator's called Che (like the chorus figure/narrator from the musical, for those who aren't familiar with it) and he starts out as a servant boy in Eva's house, and eventually becomes a revolutionary when he becomes suspicious that Eva's becoming slowly corrupt. My question is, anyone read or seen something like this (without Evita being an angle, of course)? Could a writer work this idea in a way which wouldn't have unfortunate implications? For example, if the Evita stand-in only had a few similarities to the historical figure, might people still recognise who the character is based on? (I'm not returning to this idea until after The Downeaster Alexa is finished, but I'd still like some thoughts. I'd also really like it if someone didn't try and derail the thread by starting a discussion on Lloyd Webber and the musical and aware that the topic of Eva Peron is controversial. Because whenever someone talks about her, everyone seems to either love her or hate her. Also, if this thread belongs in another forum, could a moderator please remove it? Thanks.) BTW, I am familiar with the fact that the Che character's original to the musical.

Morwen Edhelwen
12-27-2011, 05:50 AM
A while ago, I started rewriting an old piece that can basically be described as a "YA dieselpunk thriller which is loosely inspired by the musical Evita." A very loose take on Evita. I had an idea that it was going to be set in Belize or Nicaragua, or one of the other Central American countries which used to be considered "banana republics" for their involvement with the United Fruit Company in the 1900s, and for their political instability.

The story's version of Che (the chorus figure/narrator from the musical, for those who aren't familiar with it) is the narrator and protagonist, who starts out as a servant boy in Eva's house, and eventually becomes a revolutionary when he becomes suspicious that Eva's becoming slowly corrupt. My question is, anyone read or seen something like this (without Evita being an angle, of course)? Could a writer work this idea in a way which wouldn't have unfortunate implications? For example, if the Evita stand-in only had a few similarities to the historical figure, might people still recognise who the character is based on? (I'm not returning to this idea until after The Downeaster Alexa is finished, but I'd still like some thoughts. I'd also really like it if someone didn't try and derail the thread by starting a discussion on Lloyd Webber and the musical and aware that the topic of Eva Peron is controversial. Because whenever someone talks about her, everyone seems to either love her or hate her. Also, if this thread belongs in another forum, could a moderator please remove it? Thanks.)
This is in Roundtable because I want to discuss the bolded question.

Cyia
12-27-2011, 06:19 AM
Your problem isn't so much the "controversial" aspect of Eva Peron's life, but that you're basing this on someone else's property, namely the musical Evita. "Che" in particular isn't a real person, so not someone you can just put into a story of your own. He's "loosely" based on Che Guevara, but he's a fictional character and the property of the rights' owners who control the rights to Evita.

Morwen Edhelwen
12-27-2011, 06:59 AM
So, having a character named "Che" is an issue? And Eva is a relatively common female name. The plot really has almost nothing to do with the musical, beyond the names "Eva" and "Che" and the political element of Eva being a social climber. In the musical, Che isn't even really a character. Strictly, maybe the use of the word "version" isn't technically accurate. (BTW, apologies if I sound defensive. I'm just really curious about the name thing). Is having a protagonist named Che, a former street kid, working for a woman named Eva, who used to be poor and is now a politician, an issue? Oops, just gave away part of my planned story.

Morwen Edhelwen
12-27-2011, 11:41 AM
Anyone want to weigh in on the name issue? The "Che and Eva" thing?

Polenth
12-27-2011, 02:49 PM
It's not a good idea to name all your projects around someone else's intellectual property. I know it isn't what you want to hear, as you didn't want to hear it with your Alexa book either. But the more you keep from the thing that inspired you, the more likely it is you'll infringe on someone else's rights and won't be able to take the project anywhere.

If you absolutely have to base your projects on someone else's work, try looking at public domain stuff.

Morwen Edhelwen
12-27-2011, 02:54 PM
So does that mean you can't have a character called Che in a novel? I also thought song titles weren't copyrighted. And the Alexa one keeps very little from the song; only the boat's name and the father's profession. It doesn't even keep the setting!

firedrake
12-27-2011, 03:03 PM
There are plenty of other Latino names to choose from. Why fixate on those?

Originality is what counts in writing. Move as far away from those things that influence you as you can because if you don't they will stifle your creativity and imagination.

Just my advice, take or leave as you wish.

Morwen Edhelwen
12-27-2011, 03:05 PM
Yes. Originality is important. No-one would deny that. I certainly don't! Che is a Garifuna name though. It means "don't do it." Seriously. It's a name, and that's what it means. But he does have a Spanish name. Many Garifuna people in Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala have legal Spanish names. Another question is "is it still unoriginal if there's a character-related justification for keeping something from the source?"

Polenth
12-27-2011, 04:11 PM
So does that mean you can't have a character called Che in a novel? I also thought song titles weren't copyrighted. And the Alexa one keeps very little from the song; only the boat's name and the father's profession. It doesn't even keep the setting!

From a copyright perspective, a song title and a character name aren't copyrightable. But if your work could be seen as trying to claim to be an official product, you will end up in court. The more distinctive the name you want to use, the more likely it is someone will try to bring a case against you. Big brands take protecting their brand very seriously.

But legal issues are only part of this. You don't want readers to think your work is an unoriginal carbon copy if it isn't anything of the sort.

Using an example that isn't your work might make this easier to see, so imagine I've written a paranormal romance for young adults. I call my characters Bella, Jacob and Edward. They're all common names, I've set my story in Scotland, and I made Jacob a selkie instead of a werewolf. Do you think I can publish this book without any issues from the Meyer estate and from readers?


Another question is "is it still unoriginal if there's a character-related justification for keeping something from the source?"

There are times when you want the link to be clear. Fairytale retellings are one of those. It's fine to use characters from the original fairytale, name and all. But it's not fine to use a character created for the Disney version. No one owns the original fairytale, but Disney own their retellings.

In this case, you want to link it to a historical person. But you want to use a character from the Andrew Lloyd Webber version. No one owns the original historical fact, but Andrew Lloyd Webber owns his retelling.

In both these cases, readers do tend to be harsher on judging originality when the source is very clear.

Morwen Edhelwen
12-28-2011, 02:12 AM
No, you wouldn't. But the thing is, couldn't the use of the name Alexa for a boat be taken of as a reference to the song? Is it a matter of context as well?

Cyia
12-28-2011, 02:43 AM
That's an allusion; it's done all the time.

It's like Disney taking a real wreck in Port Royal (the HMS Swan) and naming the character of the daughter of Port Royal's governor in Pirates of the Caribbean Elizabeth Swan. It's a reference someone familiar with the source will get.

Morwen Edhelwen
12-28-2011, 02:47 AM
So, Cyia, are you saying the use of Alexa as a boat's name is an allusion? Or that it could be taken as one? I don't want to get into any problems in the future. :(

Sage
12-28-2011, 03:14 AM
It really doesn't matter if you use one name for anything because you liked it. Alexa is a common name. Che and Eva are fine on their own.

But if you start naming multiple characters after characters in someone else's story, you're going to run into problems. If you're naming characters after someone else's characters and you're making them very similar, you're going to run into problems. To take a popular example, the next author who writes a vampire named Edward is going to have issues, and any book with an Edward and a Bella will also have problems. Will the author get sued for it? They might. And readers might be turned off by it.

Morwen Edhelwen
12-28-2011, 03:18 AM
Thinking over this. To Polenth; Apologies if I sounded like I was "slapping the messenger".

Morwen Edhelwen
12-28-2011, 03:34 AM
It really doesn't matter if you use one name for anything because you liked it. Alexa is a common name. Che and Eva are fine on their own.

But if you start naming multiple characters after characters in someone else's story, you're going to run into problems. If you're naming characters after someone else's characters and you're making them very similar, you're going to run into problems. To take a popular example, the next author who writes a vampire named Edward is going to have issues, and any book with an Edward and a Bella will also have problems. Will the author get sued for it? They might. And readers might be turned off by it.

"Any book with an Edward and a Bella will also have problems?" Does this apply even if Edward isn't a vampire and Bella has a spine? (/hijack Sorry. I hated that book. I read it just to get a sense of what it was all about, all my friends were talking about it, and it's really bad. IMO anyway.)

Sage
12-28-2011, 05:41 AM
"Any book with an Edward and a Bella will also have problems?" Does this apply even if Edward isn't a vampire and Bella has a spine? (/hijack Sorry. I hated that book. I read it just to get a sense of what it was all about, and it's really bad. IMO anyway.)
Yes. That was the point. Any pairing of the names will still have problems, whether legal or just with readers rolling their eyes and putting the book down.

Cyia
12-28-2011, 06:24 AM
I can't tell you that there won't be problems, no matter what you do. I don't know anything about the legalities in your area, and AFAIK, copyright and trademark are on a country-by-country basis.


To take a popular example, the next author who writes a vampire named Edward is going to have issues, and any book with an Edward and a Bella will also have problems. Will the author get sued for it? They might. And readers might be turned off by it.


A better example is for series already in existence. I've seen complaints by twi-fans about JR Ward's use of Bella for the name of one of her (multiple) heroines. Having a Bella fall for a vampire (we'll just call the fact that his name is Zsadist an amusing irony) rubs them the wrong way.

B.D.B. was first published in '05, the same year as Tw1light, meaning that there's no way either of them was influenced by the other.

Ditto Charlaine Harris' Sookie being able to read all minds other than that of a vampire, which is "a total rip-off of Edward and Bella, in reverse!!!".

The Southern Vampire Mysteries were first published in 2001, meaning that Ms. Harris would have to be psychic to know enough about Eddie and Bells to steal and reverse their super special relationship.

Morwen Edhelwen
01-01-2012, 04:51 PM
Another thing, slightly off-topic; in a way Billy Joel's song "Don't Ask Me Why" reminds me of Evita. "Fool them all, but baby I can tell/You're no stranger to the street" I love that song.