Part of me looks forward to the day when a reader gets in touch to complain of a factual mistake in one of my books. Not, you understand, that I like to trip up and be found out. It’s more that this will signify that a) a large number of people are reading my stuff and b) they care enough to notice.
Image thanks: all photos unrestricted from freeimages.com
But this doesn’t mean I’m playing fast and loose with reality, in the hope of baiting someone into protesting. I’m actually a tad obsessive about fact checking. Saffron Sweeting is a fictional village, but it’s close to a real city (Cambridge) and soon-to-be-named Book 2 includes actual events from the summer of 2010, plus scenes set in northern Scotland. Hence, my compulsive checking includes:
- the months when clematis and daffodils bloom
- locations of disused Scottish airfields
- who knocked England out of the 2010 (soccer) World Cup
- how to spell Michelangelo and Mary Celeste
- the order of pre-flight checks in a Cessna
- whether fireworks are still held at Midsummer Common in Cambridge
- what parrots like to eat (and should eat)
- the prevailing take-off direction at Cambridge airport
- who won the 2010 Oxford-Cambridge boat race
- the age at which puppies can leave their mother
- what time sunset is, in Cambridge, on the summer solstice
- …and… well, you get the idea!
Of course, there are many famous books (and movies, and TV) where mistakes occur, and fans seem to enjoy noticing and discussing these. Author Emily Giffin had to put a note in Where We Belong admitting inconsistency in a main character’s age, and I thoroughly enjoyed this list of mistakes made in Friends.
How about you? Do mistakes in books drive you nuts, or do you enjoy spotting something the author missed?