by Helen Woodall
With the advent of Google Maps I am astounded how many books still have glaring mistakes of geography.
A few years ago there was the famous case of a book that won a bunch of awards. In it, the heroine and her child escaped across the border through a mountain pass – between two countries that do not share a border. Nowhere do these two countries meet!
I am not sure how the author, the editor and the people who judged the awards all managed to miss this, but I can assure you the readers swooped on it. And yes, the awards were withdrawn.
Not all examples of geographical errors are as dramatic as this one, but readers do notice mistakes. And these days of instant maps and atlases on the internet there is absolutely no excuse. Besides Google, there is always:
and dozens more that can answer your every query from the temperature in Cairns, Australia, in the middle of winter (20-30C = 68-86F) to how much rain falls on the plain in Spain. (http://www.iberianature.com/material/Spain_climate/Rainfall_Spain.htm)
These sites have all sorts of fascinating weather details:
There are even historical sites that can tell you whether or not your hero and heroine would have been snowbound in London in 1709. (Yes they would have been. It was a very cold year.)
And before your heroine flees to another country, please check to see whether or not she needs a visa or inoculations or an international driver’s license. It would be a real plot destroyer if she got barred at the border or deported as an illegal alien or caught Dengue Fever instead of kissing the hero on the last page.
So, what are the worst/funniest geographical errors you have seen in a novel?