Checks and Corrections

One of the most arduous tasks for any writer before going to publication, is to check that all the references and  facts that are used are right and then correcting them if they are wrong.   In the case of fiction that covers the recent past this is particularly important.  It is sometimes quite difficult to remember accurately what happened thirty or forty years ago.  Luckily we now have Google to help us, so there is really no excuse for the more glaring mistakes.

In “Parallel Lines”,  my narrative starts in the Fifties, then moves through the Sixties and Seventies. This is the time that I was growing up, but even so the memory can play odd tricks and it is easy to get confused with the dates of the more memorable events.    However, it is often the background information to personal lives that can be full of errors unless carefully checked.

Recently I have been so busy working with my own writing I have had little time to read other people’s.  However last weekend I read in one sitting “Life after Life” by one of my favourite authors Kate Atkinson.  It is a wonderful book and covers all the topics I most enjoy –  exploring relationships, family life, outsiders and misfits.  I am therefore a little reluctant to be critical in any way.  However, I suddenly came upon a glaring mistake which had obviously been overlooked by both the author and her editor.  In a chapter dated 1926 she refers to a young man visiting from Oxford and in his final year. She says that this man was educated at Stowe.  I happen to know that Stowe School was only founded in 1923, so it would have been impossible for this young man to have been educated at Stowe before going to University.  It may seem a very minor mistake, but it is such inaccuracies every author should try and guard against!

In my next book “Triangles in Squares”  the action takes place in the Eighties.  Although this should be easier to remember, many facts have had to be checked.  For instance,  what was Margaret Thatcher doing and which term of office was she in?  What films and pop songs came out in which year?  What scandals happened?  And so on and so forth.   I hope I have checked everything accurately but there are bound to be things I have over-looked and I am sure my readers will point them out.

I hope they do!