I've been making a living as a writer since 2004. In that time, I've crafted more than a few sentences that gave my editors reason to go out back and cut a fresh switch with my name on it. I can only imagine the size of the paddle that's currently being whittled for Irish author John Boyne, who made a legendary blunder in his latest historical fiction novel, A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom. Pardon, let me correct myself: He made a Legendary blunder. When Googling a recipe for red dye, he fished up—and published–a dyeing recipe from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Writer Dana Schwartz has a snapshot of the page on Twitter. (The original credit for the snapshot, redditor NoNoNo_OhOhOh. seems to have deactivated their account at the time of this writing.) On the page, a character narrates the ingredients needed to dye a dress, including [puts on glasses]: "nightshade, sapphire, keese wing, the leaves of the Silent Princess plant, Octrorok eyeball, swift violet, thistle, and hightail lizard." To make the dress red, said character adds "spicy pepper, the tail of the red Lizalfols, and four Hylian shrooms."
If you didn't even know you can dye Link's clothes in Breath of the Wild, well, there's your ingredient list. There's a fellah in Hateno Village who'll set you up with some cool new threads.
John Boyne—who also authored the 2006 Holocaust drama The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas—sheepishly admits he screwed up and is willing to own his mistake. "Hey Twitter, does anyone know how one would go about dying [sic] a dress red?" he Tweeted today. "Asking for a friend."
Boyne's novels have stirred up (less funny) controversy in the past. The Auschwitz Museum states The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas contains inaccuracies about the Holocaust, and therefore shouldn't be used as a teaching aid about the genocide. Boyne's 2019 novel, My Brother's Name is Jessica, was met with criticism by the trans community for misgendering characters, amongst other problems. Boyne countered by insisting he supports the trans community but rejects the word cis, an inoffensive but somehow controversial term used to describe people who identify with the gender they were initially given at birth.
Today's moral: When doing research, don't forget to examine the context of your sources. If Google drags up a recipe for "red dye" and it's accompanied by a picture of Link, maybe don't use that recipe for your serious historical fiction.