First off, in the last couple of days, Mistress of the Wind has climbed from #6 on the iTunes Sci-fi / Fantasy Breakout Books list to #2, as of the last time I checked. I get a little nervous each time I check, will it or won’t it be higher or lower. It’s been higher each time, and if I reach #1 (hey, I’m only one away! :)) there’ll definitely be a woohoo coming from my house.
Then, this afternoon I got two parcels in the post. The first, a box of books – in fact, my author copies of Mistress of the Wind. I can’t tell you how excited I was, because they just look so beautiful.
I also got a parcel containing two pieces of what we in the historical research business call primary sources – two travel catalogues for tours of Europe in the summer of 1927, printed in 1927. Yes, that would make them nearly 90 years old.
I’m writing a book set in 1927, and in it, my hero and heroine go from New York to Switzerland, by ocean liner and then by car through Europe. I wanted to know how long it took to get from place to place by car, where they would be likely to stay, what the sights were in those days that people were interested in seeing and how much things cost.
These two slim volumes have that information for me. I’ve peeked inside both and I am really so glad I ordered these books. And so grateful that I found them online. Thank goodness for the internet and online purchasing. I just can’t imagine how I’d have had access to these catalogues before the internet came along. Or it would have taken me months and a lot of time I could have better spent writing the actual book to track them down from secondhand bookstores.
I love the pictures in these books as much as the information. The styles of dress, the tourist shots without any modern buildings in them, of a Europe still recovering from the First World War. Literally priceless for a historical fiction author like me who is a bit obsessive compulsive when it comes to getting the facts right.
And this kind of thing just boosts my enthusiasm for what I’m writing and sends me back to my computer all fired up and eager to get on with the story.
As readers, do you care if an author goes to a lot of trouble to get all the little facts right? I have to say here, as a reader myself, I’m less concerned about factual accuracy in other people’s books than I am in my own. I just have a deep-seated need to be accurate, but I’m much more forgiving of other people’s books, as long as I’m enjoying the story.