Posts Tagged ‘Alyssa Alexander’
I love writing romance with an added bit of swashbuckling and adventure. Give this girl a pirate, a smuggler, or a spy any day. After all, who doesn’t love a bad boy? And I always gift my bad boys with equally feisty heroines. This means I end up arming my feisty heroines…which leads me to the fun research: historical weaponry!
DISCLAIMER: I am not a weapons expert. I’m not even halfway knowledgeable. I have never touched or fired a present-day gun, let alone anything historical. Nor have I handled any kind of knife beyond a butter knife. But I have researched weapons for my heroines, which I’m going to share with you today. Mostly because I thought they were so neat I couldn’t help myself. Still, in the scheme of things, this is only a very basic primer on a few interesting weapons. If you want more information, there are many, many experts and enthusiasts that would gladly share their knowledge.
So. Without further do, the weapons. It is quite difficult to conceal a weapon if you are an 18th or 19th century society lady. A lady doesn’t run around London with a huge pistol in her reticule such as this 9 inch pistol circa 1800. It wouldn’t fit. And a 9 inch pistol does not accessorize well.
What does a girl do? Invest in a pocket pistol, so called because it could fit in a great-coat pocket (which is not useful for my heroine unless she intends to rely on the hero–which of course, she does not). It will also fit inside a ladies’ muff (which is quite useful for my heroines, assuming it’s winter when the book takes place). The size of a pocket pistol varies. Here are a set of pistols circa 1800 that are about 7.5 inches long.
Here is a French pocket pistol that is 5.75 inches long. The handle is a carved bird, which is both interesting and disturbing. Look at the wonderful details in these pictures!
My favorite, the pistol set to the left is only 4.5 inches long–very easy to conceal!
Of course, in the late Regency, my heroine would most likely carry a flintlock pistol, though percussion pistols were beginning to be available around 1820. Thus, many of the caveats of flintlock pistols apply. They don’t fire in rain or damp weather as the powder will be too wet. Also, they frequently misfire. This is bad. One wouldn’t want to accidentally shoot an eligible bachelor while dancing!
But what about knives? Less chance of misfire and still concealable, so perhaps this would be an ideal weapon for my heroines. Knives can be made to any length and any size, and their shapes change based upon their purpose. The stiletto, for example, which is long and slim with a sharp point is meant for thrusting. At the risk of being too blood-thirsty, a stiletto is meant to pierce deeply, not to have sharp edges for cutting. (Ick.) It dates back to the late 1400’s in Italy.
And last but not least, a bodice is another place to hide a knife. Though I imagine it would be a bit uncomfortable (and sharp!) if you move just wrong. Still, there were such things as bodice daggers in the Medieval times, when both men and women regularly carried daggers for eating and self-defense.
And now we are coming to my very favorite knife. The salvavirago. A Spanish knife which is also called a “chastity knife.” Guess who gets to use this knife? Yep. Feisty heroines. I couldn’t find a lot of information on this knife beyond that Andalusian women carried it in their garters or bodice. It was smaller form of the navaja, which was a larger Spanish folding knife. Here is a picture of a navaja knife fight, and here is a picture of a salvavirago.
I don’t think hiding a knife in a bodice would work quite as well in the Regency as in earlier times, however, when the bodices were so short! But I’m betting an ingenious female spy might figure out a way to make that work!
Alyssa Alexander writes historical romantic suspense about spies and smugglers and nefarious villains. She avoids even the dullest of kitchen knives. Watch for her debut release The Smuggler Wore Silk coming from Berkley in early 2014.
There’s always cause to drink champagne with the Duchesses.
Duchess Debuts, Bestsellers, dreams made and kisses sealed forever. Today, we celebrate five new authors, eleven delicious books, a parcel of good news, and the brisk smoothing of skirts that got us here.
Please join us in raising our glasses, and our teacups, to the indomitable duchess spirit within us all.
We love good news. Divulge yours in the comments and share the bubbly.
Now that our Dashing Country House is filled with such illustrious guests, other questions must be asked. How long does one stay? And what does one do a country house party?
According to The Habits of Good Society (1863), “a week is the limit for a country visit, except at the house of a near relation or very old friend.” Though typically, the time is provided by the hostess. “It will, however, save trouble to yourself, if, soon after your arrival, you state that you are come “for a few days,” and, if your host wishes you to make a longer visit, he will at once press you to do so.”
Of course, all of our dashing guests must stay for as long as they would like. Read the rest of this entry »
Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark -
Brandy for the Parson, ‘Baccy for the Clerk.
Laces for a lady; letters for a spy,
Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by!
– A Smuggler’s Song by Rudyard Kipling
I was perhaps 13 when I was first introduced to English smuggling in Watch The Wall, My Darling by Jane Aiken Hodge, which takes its name from Rudyard Kipling’s poem A Smuggler’s Song. I was fascinated by the smuggling aspect of the book–or perhaps I should say the smuggling hero! Of course, the book was dramatic and romantic and just the thing to pique a fledgling romance
Now, I’m well aware smuggling is illegal, and smugglers aren’t glamorous or romantic in the least. But technically, neither are pirates. And look at Captain Jack Sparrow! (OK, I just had to throw that picture in because, well, yum.)