March 28th, 2014

2French Swordspoint (EK only)

What I learned writing a Fencing Story for GAMES CREATURES PLAY

When I sat down to write "Prise de Fer" for the new Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner anthology Games Creatures Play, I knew that I was going to have to go begging wide and far for information on not just fencing, but how modern fencing differs from 18th century sword-fighting.  This is, after all, what the plot hinges on - and no amount of Riverside flummery would serve me in a story set in France in 1963, about a young New Yorker with a terrifying French grand-mere, who goes to a snooty summer-school in Normandy just so she can learn fencing from a 1953 Olympic champion . . . . only to encounter an older inhabitant of the château who wants her to do things his way.

The Modern Fencing bit was easy:  remember what I could of my Basic Fencing college classes (where I triumphed - when I did - with my Glare rather than my Form) . . . and pick the very generous brain of competitive fencer and fellow-author Kat Howard, beginning with her Lightspeed Magazine article "The Pen and the Sword," and then making her answer many questions over the phone.

Then I went on FaceBook & Twitter, with this simple plea:
If anyone knows the fine points of the differences between 18c smallsword fighting and contemporary fencing, you'd better tell me now. #amwriting

Teel James Glenn, Ken Burnside and  many others were terrifically generous with their knowledge, and gave me their permission to share it with you here.  I hope it's as useful to you, someday.

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[All boldface notes mine -- including this:

- helpful any? ]

I also owe a great debt of gratitude to swordmaster and Broadway fight director J. Allen Suddeth (Aladdin!!!! yayyy! Newsies!! and and and!), who took me under his wing and invited me to demo bouts and sent me videos and notes . . . . It was such a joy getting to work with all these folks, to deepen friendships and relationships . . . .And to - oh yes - WRITE THE STORY AND PUBLISH IT!!!!!

Here is the BRITISH cover, which I just love:

appears in bookstores on
Tuesday, April 1, 2014 (no fooling)

. . . . with a pretty hot ToC that I am so pleased to be a part of!  I do think the anthology should be subtitled "Stories about Sports by People who really hated sports when they were kids . . . . " -- Take a look at the descriptions, and you'll see ;)