Anyone who writes historical romances knows how much research can go into developing and creating a story. Since I am a voracious nonfiction history reader, this is one of my favorite parts of the process, but it can be tough. History in broad strokes is easy to discover. It’s the small details of daily life that can be elusive. Sometimes I can find the details, other times I have to take some artistic license based on my knowledge of the period. And then there are times when, despite my research, my careful fact checking, I still manage to get it wrong
I was recently editing my manuscript for Mask of the Gladiator, my ancient Rome novella, and double checking my facts when I discovered I had made not one, but many mistakes. I would read a sentence and something about it didn’t seem right. Off to the internet or a research book I would go, only to find out it was incorrect. Then I’d ask myself, “How did I miss this during the umpteenth times I’ve read this story?” or “I know I looked this up before. How did I get it so wrong?”
Since catching mistakes and making changes is part of the editing process, I can’t be too hard on myself. Also, after listening to a recent interview with Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian David McCullough, I know I’m not alone. When asked about his research methods, he admitted that he continues researching right through the copyediting process. I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard this. If a noted historian of his stature can keep researching until the last minute, then so can I. After all, in the end it doesn’t matter when you get it right, as long as you do.