A Strange Custom by Ann Evans

Some of you might remember that my April blog was about my visit to the London Book Fair with author Karen King. We weren't sure if anything would come of the conversations we had with various publishers but I thought I'd just report back to say that we've both got work from it. It's not mega-bucks and it's writing to their guidelines, but every little helps, as they say!

Karen has a commission for some picture books and I'll be writing some non-fiction to do with local customs and cultures.  This subject is something I've done before - and it brought back an an amusing little tale which I thought I'd share with you.

Years ago, when I was just starting out in this writing business I was approached by a publisher to write a little book on British customs for the Polish market. So I included things like Valentines Day, Shrove Tuesday, Bonfire Night and that sort of thing, describing what we Brits get up to, and what each occasion was all about.

No problem there and off the manuscript went. Eventually, back came my author copies of these cute little books.

 Most of them were fine... but oh dear, one or two of the books had been collated wrongly.

Page 22 had become page 2.

The first custom I'd written about was Burns Night which was fine until you got to the bottom of page 1where it should read:

Traditionally a meal of Scotland's most famous dish, the Haggis (a savoury pudding made of minced [turn page] entrails, cereal and very hot spices to cover the strong taste) is eaten on Burns Night...
[incidentally, the publisher added the description of a haggis - not me! And I never got to see the proofs]

While over at page 21, the subject was Guy Fawkes, and the ending of the last paragraph went like this:

Effigies of Guy Fawkes ("Guys") are made from old clothing and taken around the streets by children asking "Penny for the Guy?"
But when you put page 22 where page 2 should have gone, it produced this delightful snippet of information:

Traditionally a meal of Scotland's most famous dish, the Haggis (a savoury pudding made of minced

No wonder some countries think us as the crazy English!!

Have there been any surprises in any of your books when they came back from the publisher?

Out now (with no faux pas) Become a Writer - A Step by Step Guide. 


Kathleen Jones said…
Thanks Ann - made me laugh on a cold grey morning!
Lee said…
Magical realism, anyone?
Bill Kirton said…
'Naked' (as opposed to 'Baked') beans. Luckily caught at the proof stage.
Jan Needle said…
i don't quite understand, Ann. You mean they DON'T eat minced children in Scotland? Boiled basted bairns is also a dish i've been offered.
Karen said…
How funny,Ann:)I remember when I wrote for children's magazines and the illustrations were done by Spanish artists. You had to be very careful what you wrote in the artist suggestions. A remark that the character 'looked like their heart was in their mouth' would be taken literally!
madwippitt said…
Don't start me off ...
Ann Evans said…
Jan, probably quite tasty - as the saying goes, I like kids but I couldn't eat a whole one!!
And Naked beans, Bill - not too saucy then.
It's good to have a chuckle on a damp old day!
Thank you for your comments everyone.
Lydia Bennet said…
thanks for a good laugh Ann, quite scary for a control freak like me, though, the thought of books coming out unchecked by me and possibly being faulty. I've had typos the publisher put in and didn't correct when I told them, which is v annoying.

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