Last year, I finished the Nanowrimo challenge and sad to say, I haven’t touched my novel since. Of course, I have a bunch of creative uses but I’m not going to bore you with those. Needless to say, life sometimes just makes me too lazy to write. For example, I promised myself I will update my blogs every week but I haven’t been. At least I can say that I have not totally gone off writing. I am an Amazon Vine reviewer and I do have to read books and write reviews. And because I’m a movie addict, I write reviews for those, too. So I am at least writing something.
Anyway, what I wanted to write about today is a book I recently read as a reviewer. Amazon Vine tells reviewers not to criticize the grammar or the typos but the content of the story. Okay, no problem there, since most of the books they send me are proofs or advance copies. But this particular book was not and it’s published by Harlequin, written by an established author.
I’m not going to mention the name of the author or the title because I don’t want to malign. The reason I am mentioning it in this blog is because it can serve as a warning to other writers.
The main characters in the book are Russian. Unfortunately, the author made a mistake in naming them. In East Slavic naming customs, a daughter inherits her father’s last name and adds an –a, for example: Petrov = Petrova. The same is true when she gets married. If her husband’s name is Yeltsin = Yelstina. In this book, the female character last name was Linley-Kirov (her mother is English) and other than her Russian surname being wrong without the –a, it is also uncommon to combine surnames of married couples. As for the male character, his last name is Tipova, which makes it a female’s name, as in daughter of Tipov. (See Wikipedia article on East Slavic Naming Customs)
Another mistake that I’ve noted was she used the term Caliph as an equivalent for prince. I just had a nagging suspicion that this was wrong and it is. A caliph is a religious leader, a follower of Muhammad. And this character was by no means that.
My point is research is important when writing. I am by no means a Slavic or Islamic expert but I noticed these mistakes. I don’t know how this slipped by the copy editor. To me it is a reminder not to be nonchalant about research and although writers have the benefit of creative license, I don’t think mistakes are included under that umbrella. So let’s all be careful.