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Betcha Didn’t Know…

By On Aug 19 2012, 10:21 pm

Pop quiz! Do you know what a nixie is? How about a kelpie? What part of a pistol is the muzzle, and which is the barrel? Did Civil War-era doctor’s offices have exam tables? You might think an editor’s job is all about fixing grammar and punctuation, but we also have to fact-check, and sometimes that can be fun!

I’ve learned more about mythology reading romance novels than I ever did in my college Philosophy classes. Apparently, there’s an entire hierarchy of angels, from Seraphim to Cherubim, any one of whom can make quite the kick-ass romance hero. I’ve learned that selkies are seals who can be trapped on land if you hide their fur. If it hadn’t been for romances featuring lonely seal-shifting heroines, I’m sure I’d never have discovered that particular creature. Mythology provides a wellspring of ideas for the fertile imaginations of romance writers.

But it’s not just the names and habits of make-believe creatures we editors need to fact-check. Do you know what a Prince Albert is? Well, let me tell you, before I read Cherrie Lynn’s hot contemporary Rock Me, Prince Albert was the guy you made prank calls about when you were a kid. When you’re talking body piercing, it’s quite a different story. Go Google it. I’ll wait. You’re back? Ah, see what I mean? Let’s just say that was an eye-opener for me! But these things need to be, umm, confirmed, lol…

And then there are the historical novels! Hoo boy, I hate to get things wrong in those because historical fans are extremely knowledgeable, and they will catch you. Hence the need for an email to the caretakers of Edinburgh Castle to confirm a certain structure had actually been built by a particular year for Sandy Blair’s Scottish romance, The King’s Mistress. And a phone call to the curator of a Civil War museum to find out if indeed doctors of that era had exam tables (they did!). The wonderful thing about fact-checking is that there are people who are extremely happy to help you out. And in the process, you learn more than you ever thought you would.

So the next time someone curls a lip at your love of romance novels, think about all the things you’ve learned from them (interesting sexual positions aside, ahem…) and maybe give them a little quiz. I’ll bet they don’t know what a Prince Albert is. And if they don’t, now you can recommend a book to them for their enlightenment.

Linda Ingmanson, Editor


11 Responses to “Betcha Didn’t Know…”

  1. LOL! So glad to have someone else double-checking the facts, can I tell yah? Research is one of my favorite things, but talk about getting side-tracked…I can start out looking up Viking housing and end up (somehow) reading Inuit mythology. *shakes head* But it’s all useful, especially when playing trivia game :D

  2. Renee Wildes says:

    Hmm…that selkie heroine sounds an awful lot like Finora in Lycan Tides! Those were some great legends to play around with. Loved them so much that I’m bringing Matteo back – in Moonwitched. The boy you loved to hate, b/c redeeming villains is an interesting challenge!

  3. I agree with Anya I love doing the research too, but it is easy to get so caught up in historical research that you turn around and find the whole morning has gone. I admit when I read historicals I find it very frustrating when authors get glaring facts wrong.With the internet research is so much easier now.

  4. I’m so grateful to have an edior (YOU!) who knows about horses, because I don’t and I’m writing Westerns.

  5. Tina Donahue says:

    Research can be brutal. I wrote historicals for awhile. One I had pubbed was set in Spain in 1504. Try finding stuff on that period. Murder. There were tons of books about what people in England, Germany, France, etc. wore in those days, but not Spain. Ugh. I finally had to look at portraits from that era to describe the clothing. Writing is never easy, if it’s done well.

  6. Sandy Blair says:

    Oops, I forgot about that phone call to Edinburgh Castle :)

  7. Cherrie Lynn says:

    Yes, I had the *most* fun doing the research for Rock Me! :D

  8. Phoebe Conn says:

    I get so many wonderful new ideas from research that once I open a great research book, I’m unlikely to come out!

  9. Tina Leonard says:

    Great article, Linda! Just reading your blog made me want to go read some history. It’s always been one of my favorite subjects–although in college, I dreaded writing the papers. Funny how that turned out since now I write books and research a lot! :) I really love reading a book or watching a movie when I can tell the research is well-done!

  10. JL Merrow says:

    Yes, people who dismiss romance novels don’t realise just how much research is often involved! I love the way research can lead you down avenues you hadn’t even considered – an interesting feature of a building, or a scrap of history, can shape a whole plot! :)

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