When you know something, should you point it out? That’s more or less what Monica Edinger asked recently on her Educating Alice blog.
I have complained in the past about people who don’t know their own limitations, but this is the reverse. Do you need to state your credentials? And if so, when?
We’re already having an Aspie kind of week, and as this was prompted by a review of an Aspie book, I thought I’d mention it. I find I sort of agree with the reviewer that I’d like to know if an author has specialist knowledge of the topic of their book. But I’m not sure why. As is frequently pointed out by authors; they are meant to be good at making things up.
I have at least once written to a publisher – I’m almost blushing – asking for information about an unknown author. Despite the relevant novel being really good, there were a few things that made me so uncomfortable that I needed to find out why the author had made what I thought were mistakes.
I frequently set my teenage novels in Los Angeles. That’s the novels I started as a teenager and which usually ran to a couple of pages. Los Angeles must have seemed glamorous, and it’s a certain sign I watched too many American television series. Knowing absolutely nothing about LA, the stories would have been abysmally bad.
Even compiling my list of Aspie books here on Bookwitch I feel a bit of a fraud. It’s as if I should know more, or be able to prove something.
Do people ask Mark Haddon what he knows about Asperger Syndrome, I wonder? For some reason it’s as if books on Aspie subjects need the writer to have close personal experience for the book to count. But do we ever challenge Mary Hoffman about her nighttime stravagating to Talia? I suspect she made most of it up.