Thursday, July 16, 2009

You'll Hear About It!

“Eastern dragons don’t have FLAMES! They are water beings.”

The Warlord's Puzzle, my first mathematical adventure picture book set in medieval China, had barely been shelved in bookstores when my sales rep called to tell me a woman in New England questioned its veracity. Second to a bad review—and I was smarting from several of those—nothing scares a newly published author more than being told she’s gotten her facts wrong.

Thank God, Nicolas Debon, the Warlord’s series artist and I based our picture and description of “red flames” curling around the legs of “painted golden dragons” on a photograph of Tang Dynasty artifacts! I subsequently learned Eastern dragons are indeed water creatures, bearers of thunder. They have flames coming from their joints, not from their mouths like St. George’s western dragon. I should have known all those things before I dared mention a dragon!

In his introduction to Bells and Grass, Walter de la Mare cautions, “I know well that only the rarest kind of best in anything can be good enough for the young.” These words (and my fear of a certain New England reader) keep me in constant fact-checking and research mode. Do I make mistakes? Sure, but not for lack of trying. You probably will too, and you can be sure your readers will let you know.

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