Switching gears

So, with a reasonably clean first draft of Book of Secrets sent out to the generous souls who volunteered to be beta readers, naturally I needed to start another project – if only to keep me from chewing my nails down to the knuckles while waiting for responses. And very fortunately, one floated into my head the day after I sent out Book of Secrets.

“It’s not going to be another Renaissance story,” I told the family. “I’m going to do a third book in the Regency fantasy series.”

There was sort of a collective sign of relief from friends and family. A general sense of, “Thank God, she’s going to quit telling us interesting things about the Italian Renaissance. And a Regency fantasy – that’s nice, a light romance, no more icky details.”

Then the new book took a dark turn into the Regency underworld. That’s something I haven’t researched much, so I’ve been reading like crazy (and checking the mail three times a day for a book I ordered that sounds as if it would be really useful.) And, yes, learning a lot of interesting things about the seamier side of Georgian/Regency life.

“Did you know that sometimes criminals on their way to be hanged were made to get out of the cart and lie down in their future graves to make sure that they’d fit?”

“I want to use Half-Hanged Smith as a character. He’s the guy who was hanging for fifteen minutes before his reprieve arrived but when they cut him down he wasn’t quite dead. Only I think I’ll have the resurrection-men cut him down instead.”

Cue another collective sigh from friends and family. Why, they want to know, am I not writing about waltzes at the Assembly Rooms?

Well, that’ll be there too. But it’s not a source of new and interesting detail. Unlike… say, did I tell you how to make a flute from a human bone? See, first you boil the bone…

21 thoughts on “Switching gears

  1. That reminds me of this song.bI had forgotten I had it in my pile:

    I also need to track down her two iterations of The Old Ways again too. The newer one is stronger, I think.

    1. I always wondered about the harper in that song. What kind of freak sees a woman’s body and thinks, “Hey, that would provide some great materials to make a new instrument”?

      (And yes, if the Mad Genii will forgive a touch of self-promotion, my book The Harper was written to try to answer that question.)

      1. If your muse ever takes a fancy to the tale, you can use the version where it’s a pipe made from a reed that grows from the body.

        Indeed, that’s exactly what I did when alluding to it in The Princess Seeks Her Fortune.

    1. It’s not all swell coves, you know. From dippers to dollymops, we gets the needful and enjoys a lushing-house unless we get took up and a beak sends us to the nubbing-cheat.

        1. Me too.

          I have to be careful to verify any cant terms I picked up from her, though; I’ve read that she inserted a few completely made-up ones to catch people who plagiarized her books.

          1. What you really want to read are some of her sources for cant as used “on the town”, but the books are scarce and hard to find. Look for Pierce Egan and books like Life in London (his most famous — there are others). His characters “Tom & Jerry” (Corinthian Tom & Jerry Hawthorne) are the source of the names of mischief-makers in early cartoons. Those, and his other characters (including Bob Logic & Corinthian Kate) were the subjects of a variety of low-life comedic adventures. George Cruikshank did at least 32 illustrations for Life in London (do an “image” search on Egan and Cruikshank).

            Wildly popular. This is the literal book that schoolmasters at Eton were confiscating from their pupils.


            1. Egan’s Life in London is available for free via Amazon Kindle or Project Gutenberg.
              So is Grose’s 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

      1. Um, this is a magical commonplace across cultures — the murdered person’s remains will accuse the murderer. In this particular form, it’s one of the Child Ballads, specifically #10 “Twa Sisters”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_Ballads

        Details about it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Twa_Sisters

        The academic study of broad folktale motifs (traditional ballads are a subset of folktales) across cultures is summarized here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aarne%E2%80%93Thompson%E2%80%93Uther_Index
        …with some guidance here: https://retellingthetales.com/a-casual-girls-guide-to-using-the-atu-index/

        The top level of the Index of Folktale Motifs is online (sort of) here:

        and here:

        I’ve found a PDF with the title: Widening Origins: Twa Sisters, Singing Bones, and the Slavic “Usna tradytsiya”. I’d be glad to send it to you if you email me an email address (Karen.L.Myers@usa.net)

        [Yes, well, I went to college in advanced math originally, and this is the sort of thing that happened to me instead…]

  2. I’m working on Book of Secrets. I just have to get through the craft fair this weekend, and then it should be all smooth sailing with lots of reading time through the end of December!

    1. No hurry. I’m working my way through Mayhew’s “London Labour and the London Poor.’ Four volumes. The man must have been paid by the word.

      1. That’s compiled from newspaper articles, so… yep, he was probably paid by the word! But it’s fascinating material, isn’t it?

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