Sunday, 15 April 2012

Fair Play, Ms Author!

December 2010 saw me discover the author Kate Quinn and her lively, entertaining and quite juicy historical novel, Mistress of Rome – and I loved it!  The only historical novels I’d read to this point were by CJ Sansom (also fab, but very very different!), and a couple of non-starters by Phillipa Gregory (I know, I know, she’s supposed to be brilliant – but just not for me, I’m afraid), so Kate Quinn’s book took me out of England in the 1600s and back to ancient Rome...

This post isn’t a book review of any kind – I romped through Mistress of Rome over that Christmas and though I entered it into my Reading Journal, I didn’t write much ’cause I hadn’t taken the time to think critically!  I love being so immersed in a story that you feel it, you don’t think it – and this sense of indulgence lends itself to the re-read very well, as you tend not remember details, only how it made you feel and so you rediscover it as you go along!

Mistress of Rome opened a trilogy and I’ve bought the second book, Daughters of Rome – I began it last year but wasn’t in the best mood to be reading, to be honest; I was restless, sidetracked, and remember thinking I wasn’t getting the best out of Daughters, and it wasn’t getting the best of I put it back on the shelf to come back to.  Oops, I haven’t yet – but I will!

Looking on Kate Quinn’s website –  – I found that the last book has recently been published and is a sequel to Mistress, whereas Daughters was a prequel.  Empress of Rome is out in the UK on the 19th July so I’ll have to wait to see what happens...allowing me time to give Daughters another go!  While I was having a nose, the ‘Whoops’ link grabbed my attention...and a quick click found me saying, “Fair Play, Ms Author!”

See, the thing about writing historical fiction of any era is that it is about history – we weren’t there, we weren’t living their shorthand of society...and so some things will be an honest oops, written in error.  Yet there are always people who notice and complain...  My Dad does this with TV shows – he loves spotting the continuity errors, moments when someone is holding a mug in one hand then it swaps to the other, that kind of thing.  Me, I’m usually so deeply into the created world that I don’t notice, and find it distracting (and often amusing, to be fair!) when he crows about it.

But, unlike so many, Kate freely admits these oops moments on her website – and invites those mistake-spotters to let her know if she’s missed any...!  Have a look and enjoy her confessions – .  I particularly like her in-joke of a pun on the Roman word ‘vomitorium’, it being anything other what it sounds like – this literary nudge-and-giggle is something we writers like to do, but it seems that not everyone finds it funny...!

I continue to say “Fair Play” to Kate, though, and thank her too – I’ve learned a trick for my (published!) writing future, as well as for general life:

Aim to get things right but when the inevitable happens, admit your wrongs in an open, amusing and accepting way, for we are all human and no one is perfect...


  1. Tis very true! Sometimes mistakes happen and you have to live with them, authors are no different. I imagine many can look back & see 'errors'. Some can be glossed over of course! Zo xx

  2. ...historical fiction seems a loaded genre from the onset...fiction as you know allows your imagination to venture in any direction, but history, in my book you have to do your research and then research your research...I have to say I've not heard of Kate Quinn but then I don't read history...inviting others to point out her mistakes/errors allows them to do the work for her...I'd be so disappointed in myself to have gotten as far as a published piece of work only to find I'd gotten my history wrong...but hey writing is far harder than it looks and my mere 40,000 word count has not been added to for many months now....oh the joy of words... Mel :)


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