Comp Titles and Why

For writers, it’s always important that we are actively reading and making connections between our work to other authors who write along similar themes or styles. It’s not at all an insult for someone to say, “Your writing feels like this author”, or “It reminds me of this other book I read in the past” because, as a writer, your work should, in at least some ways, follow a lineage, or draw strength from thoughts that have been placed in writing before.

When I was just starting out in writing The Goddess Twins, I knew that I was following a path of the type of books I had read and clung to as a child, but then adding my own flavor and mix of other books and themes. In a lot of ways, one of the first books I can see that parallels to The Goddess Twins is a childhood favorite, Matilda by Roald Dahl, I also remember reading Tears of a Tiger by Sharon Draper in High School, which was one of the first books of a young black high schooler struggling with their life and actions that I read and devoured. And finally, Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, was a pivotal moment in showing me the power of unveiling black trauma and turning it into art. And of course, when I was writing, I was also reading Octavia Butler and drawing parallels to her worlds full of black characters evolving and growing in intriguing ways.

While these books hold some of the legacy of my novel, when I was querying agents, I would compare, or comp, my book to Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older. This book is about a passionate Afro-Boricua teen whose art is imbibed with ancestral spirits and who is charged with finding an evil spirit hunting and killing in her neighborhood. I had the fortune of meeting Mr. Older in person while I was writing the Goddess Twins, and it was a wonderful meeting.

I felt very seen as a author, in that the same things I wanted my novel to be for others, Mr Older talked about wanting his book to be. That his book celebrates and highlights the power of a culture that is not often brought up in fantasy storytelling is something I very strongly connected with. I hoped that one day, my book would sit alongside Shadowshaper on a reader’s shelf, and I am grateful for the path his book has forged so that mine can be seen in the literary world.

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Yodassa Williams is a powerful conjurer of black girl magic (70% Jedi, 30% Sith). A Jamaican American writer, speaker, and award winning performing storyteller, alumna of the VONA/Voices Travel Writing program and creator of the podcast ‘The Black Girl Magic Files’, Yodassa (Yoda) launched ‘Writers Emerging' in 2019, a wilderness writing retreat for women of color and non-binary people of color. In 2020, Yodassa's debut YA Fantasy, The Goddess Twins, will be published by Spark Press. She grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and currently resides in the Bay Area.

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