I have written non-fiction (articles, textbooks, reports etc) as well as fiction and if I put an error in a textbook it could affect generations of students. But fiction writers too have to get it right.
Years ago, I was fascinated by Roman history. I not only ploughed through Gibbon’s Decline and Fall (an abridged version), I soaked up fiction set in those times. I mention it here for the memory of hurling one particular book out with the rubbish.
Its irredeemable sin? Two characters were conversing in the bath house and one of them said, ‘Pass the soap.’ For all that the first known use of soap precedes the Romans by a long way, they did not use it in their baths.
That one brief comment ruined the whole book for me. How could I trust it to be a credible account of ancient Rome if the author didn’t even know the basics?
It comes down to research, and I have corralled a few facts, some cartoons, and a reference or two over on my blog in pursuit of further clarity on what is a vital and often neglected component of everyday life. Please call in and join the discussion: