Well, after all the excitement of last weekend, I'm finally [sort of] settled back down into a work routine. Yesterday, thanks to Freedom (halleluja!), I finished a chapter and another 1000 words of the next chapter. I set Freedom to two hours, twice, and silenced the siren song of the internet.
I [heart] FREEDOM.
In just a minute, as soon as I publish this, I will do it again, and hopefully manage another 1000 words before I go out to do my "chocolate shopping" today. Easter's in a few days, after all. I love Easter baskets. They're the Christmas stockings of springtime. In my family that means not only chocolate but fun little presents and crafty things.
Also, on the subject of chocolate, stayed tuned for a very special CHOCOLATE BRIBE to be coming your way in the next few days.
Anyway, very much NOT on the subject of Easter or chocolate, last night I began some war research. You see, there is some war in my current book, and war, though fascinating to me, is not something I know about (and thank you for that). While I am inventing a fictional war, I feel I need a real war to model it after, so I've chosen one about which I know especially little, and am beginning to read about it. That is: the so-called Hundred Years War. This is what I knew about it:
1) It was between England and France in the late Middle Ages
2) Joan of Arc had something to do with it
3) The Battle of Agincourt, made famous by Shakespeare's Henry V ("We few, we happy few, we band of brothers . . .") was part of it
That's all. Now, thanks to my good friends Wikipedia and Youtube, I've dipped my toe into the Hundred Years War and learned some really interesting things about English long bows and the bloody end of the good old medieval cavalry charge of noble knights in full regalia. Did you know, for example, that the draw strength of a long bow was between 140-180 pounds? I take that to mean that that was the force required to pull back the string, the length of which was the height of the archer. Wow. Skeletons of English archers (who grew up training on the long bow) showed: twisted spines and extreme bone density through the shoulders.
The French, by contrast, had only Genoese mercenary crossbowmen, and the crossbow was heavy, hard to reload, and lacked the range of the long bow. Also, English archers could easily unstring their bows and curl the string up in their hats to keep it dry in the rain or river crossings, whereas the crossbows were hard to unstring and restring. At one battle (Crecy? Calais? I can't remember.) the crossbow strings got wet and couldn't fire far enough to reach the English, which so disgusted the French commanders that they ordered their infantry to kill their own contracted Genoese mercenaries, who, finding themselves set upon from both sides, started firing back at their own employers. Oy. War.
Anyway, my book is set neither in England nor France, nor even during the Middle Ages, but the kinds of details of why and how, tactics, betrayals, truces, the texture of those years, that's what I'm after. I've just started reading a book called The Archer's Tale by the extremely prolific historical fiction writer Bernard Cornwell, and I have a YA book waiting next, called Dogboy, both set during the Hundred Years War. I'm early in my research and haven't gotten to Joan of Arc yet, but I'm curious to learn more about her.
While working on Spicy Little Curses Such As These (the second story in Lips Touch) I became fascinated with the British Raj -- the British era in India -- and read or perused many books, both history and fiction, on the subject. I don't know if this will be a new fascination, but it could be. I've long wished I could have taken more history classes in college, and have thought idly, "Maybe I'll audit some now," and of course have never gotten around to it. There are books, after all. And Youtube! Was impressed with this series on the Hundred Years War, which I assume is an amateur effort, but well done, providing a good starting point.
Anyway, Freedom is waiting for me to begin work. Have a great day!
Oh, here's Kenneth Branagh doing the famous St. Crispin's Day speech from Henry V, one of the all-time great battle speeches. If you watch, you can glimpse a 13-year-old Christian Bale in among the troops:
Whew. I'd forgotten how awesome the music was in this movie. As soon as I heard it I remembered it fully -- one of those movie scores that is the movie, the way the Stars Wars and The Mission scores are.