Wednesday 27 March 2024

But the detail is right.

 I've had a few discussions with groups of writer friends recently about books set in made up locations. Quiet a few writers I know, me included, use familiar real locations but re-invent them, with new features if necessary, to suit the story.  

One thing that I have noticed though - that even if the location is made up other details have to be as correct as possible. Which is why a fellow author has carefully researched a medical condition experienced by her heroine and why I spent half an hour earlier in the week checking out what long distance trains leave from Bristol Temple Meads station. The devil is in the detail.

Does it matter to readers? I think it does. 

I've just completed two fabulous on line courses offered by Cardiff University on historical gardens so that I can get my facts right in the WIP. For the most recent in the Riviera series Masquerade on the Riviera  I researched all things Egyptology (well, maybe not all, but a lot) because my hero was an Egyptologist and the plot turned on a cursed necklace that may or may not have been genuine. The same friend is off to Greece shortly with a list of questions to answer so she can be sure that the details of real places in her latest WIP are correct before she submits it to the publisher. Hmm - that piece of research may not be that much of a hardship - but you get the picture! 

Authors who write romance, any variety, are often accused of peddling illusions. Encouraging unrealistic expectations of life and relationships. Seeing the world through rose coloured glasses.  I think romance readers are better than that. Books are escapism. I'm unashamed of saying that about the ones I write. I think that readers understand, within certain parameters, that what they are reading is not necessarily a complete mirror of life. But the details matter. And so do emotional truths. Love, betrayal, pain of separation, joy of reunion, uncertainty, grief, achievement, simple happiness. Okay - probably not many of us are going to experience that meet-cute that sets up the romance or love at first sight, or even a marriage of convenience, but the feeling accompanying falling in love is exactly the same, whoever you are and whoever the object of your affections. If authors can get the detail right then the book is valid, however escapist the subject matter.  

Which is why we do our best to get the details right.

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