Rather a cranky thing to say, right? Not to mention rather rude. But for goodness sake, if you’re going to the trouble to write a story, doesn’t it make sense to know that your information is unimpeachable? Researching aspects of your story is vital for many reasons. Blowing out the foundations of your story makes me go all ranty like. So here goes…
I’m almost willing to excuse a small transgression, such as getting a factual person’s middle name wrong, or misspelled – I just look at it as a brain farty thing. It should have been caught, but ooops. However, if your story is in a setting that you know squat beans about, then you better research it to within an inch of your life. It has to be real and factual because someone has been to the place you’re writing about. If you blow it, you’ll receive howls of “bullpucky on an onion bagel!”
And rightly so. And this leads me to one of the worst blunders I’ve seen in a long time. Author Christopher Pike, a bestselling author of forty books wrote a mess of a book that got everything wrong – the characters, the customs, the country’s capital, and the country’s geography. Predictable, readers who knew better were upset and exacted their revenge with their book reviews.
At some point, one would think there would be a moment of clarity – as in, “oops, busted. I totally effed up.” But no – ’twas not to be. Not only did this author make HUGE FATAL mistakes because he was sloppy and stupid (yes, you heard me – stupid), but he didn’t own up. Instead, he created his own sock puppet to defend himself on Amazon. Ouch. It’s not often people can witness an author’s implosion, and Mr. Pike didn’t disappoint.
For starters, how can anyone defend the indefensible? He thinks Istanbul is the capital of Turkey? Holy Rand McNally maps, Batman – that would have taken as much time as tickling Google. Talk about lazy.
As you can see from the exchange, his blunders didn’t stop with blowing the capital of Turkey. He blew the entire foundation of his story. Meanwhile, I’m wondering what his editor is smoking to have not caught this mess. We’re not talking Publish America, where we expect this kind of mess – but this is a Harcourt book.
Just because someone is a bestselling author, they aren’t infallible. And poor, stupid Mr. Pike just detonated a bomb under his quill because he made an ass of himself, insulted his readership, and didn’t apologize.
This type of thing infuriates me because it shows his lack of respect for his audience. He was counting on them either being stupid (achingly unwise), or loving him so much that they’d forgive him for his transgressions.That’s hubris to the nth degree.
I’m miffed because I’m far from being a bestselling author, yet I slogged around the Peruvian Amazon for 17 bug-filled days with a medical team just so I could get the proper background for my second novel. Every bug bite I got, every giant spider I found resting on my shoes, every scabie baby I washed, I gritted my teeth, thinking, “oh, the things you’ll do for a goddamed book, Pricey!”
I went the nine yards to make sure my story will be unimpeachable – even if it cost me three layers of my skin from itching bug bites and the remaining half of my sanity. So when I see someone who’s all high and mighty taking the most heinous of shortcuts AND being a colossal goat manure, I see red.
It doesn’t matter if you’re writing about something as small as a Catholic ceremony or as large as the setting for your story – you better, by gollygosh, know damn well what you’re talking about because readers are smart, and THEY ARE WATCHING.
And really, is it worth risking your credibility?