By Linda Ingmanson 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